Cross-contamination involves the movement or transfer of harmful pathogens from one individual, object or space to another. Bacteria can be spread from food to prep areas or to other food in a restaurant, and from a counting tray to other prescriptions in a pharmacy. It is essential to prevent cross-contamination since it can lead to serious illness. There are steps that a pharmacy or restaurant owner can take to prevent cross-contamination.
1. Establish a Personal Hygiene Program
When it comes to food and prescription handling, personal hygiene is an essential part of preventing cross-contamination. According to an article in Pharmacy Times, unclean hands often introduce contamination, causing 30% to 40% of acquired infections. Pharmacy staff members should practice proper hand hygiene, using antiseptic handwashing every time they enter or reenter the aseptic area. To minimize the possibility of cross-contamination in your restaurant, institute policies addressing important hand practices, including proper handwashing, hand care, and glove use to ensure food handlers limit the risk of cross-contamination.
2. Keep Equipment Sterile
In compounding pharmacy cleanrooms, all materials of previous product manufactured should be removed and no residual cleaning agent should linger. All toxic solvents and active compounds should be removed from the equipment and must be verified. Visual inspection and swabbing should be used to analyze the surface of equipment, which should be wrapped with polythene bags until use. In a restaurant, each type of food should be prepared and handled with a separate piece of equipment. For instance, the cutting board that you use for raw poultry should not be used for produce during the same prep time. It’s best to prep food at different times and clean and sanitize equipment between each product.
3. Train Personnel
Be it in a pharmacy or restaurant, employees must be trained and should be able to identify a potential cross-contamination situation and prevent it from happening. Personnel should wear appropriate, clean body coverings that are required for their job. Food workers, for example, should always follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to prevent the transfer of microorganisms and allergens to the food. Pharmacy staff should change clothing after every product change or breaks and should not be contaminated by cleaning agents.
4. Practice Correct Storage
Safe food storage in a restaurant is crucial, while proper storage of pharmaceuticals is vital. In a restaurant, it’s extremely important to protect both food quality and food safety to prevent foodborne illness. Each item of food should be kept at a specific temperature and the food storage areas need to be kept clean and free from bacteria and other pathogens. In a pharmacy, proper temperature, light, humidity, conditions of sanitation and ventilation are important aspects of the total drug control system wherever drugs and supplies are stored.
5. Clean and Sanitize All Work Surfaces
The work surfaces in a restaurant and a pharmacy should be cleaned regularly. All surfaces that come into contact with a food item must be effectively cleaned and sanitized to ensure food safety and the prevention of foodborne illness. In a pharmacy, the need for vigilant cleaning and sanitizing practices should be reinforced, while the surfaces of the sterile compounding areas should be cleaned frequently.
It is vital to prevent cross-contamination in a pharmacy or restaurant. The health and safety of your customers should be a priority. The cross-contamination prevention strategies can help you, your business and your customers.