Preventing Foodborne Illness & Cross Contamination

Posted on: May 10, 2017 by RMS Hospitality

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. For your clients, these are likely staggering statistics. While this threat looms over many restaurant owners, preventing it simply requires some preparation, knowledge and care. In addition to addressing their Restaurant Insurance needs, complete with a Foodborne Illness policy, share the following information with your clients to ensure they are proactive about serving quality dishes and reducing the spread of illness.

What are the causes of foodborne illnesses?

All types of food poisoning fall into the following three categories.

  • Biological – Includes bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are the leading cause of foodborne illness cases each year.
  • Chemical – These include natural toxins and chemical contaminants. Some natural toxins are associated with the food itself (i.e., certain mushrooms, PSP in molluscan shellfish), and some are made by pathogens in the food when it is time/temperature abused (i.e., histamine development in certain seafood species), explains the University of Rhode Island.
  • Physical – This illness stems from consuming pieces of metal, glass, or plastic in food.

Now that the causes for foodborne illnesses have been discussed, we’re going to explore how they can be prevented.


Wash hands and food contact surfaces and utensils often between tasks and if they have become contaminated. Effective cleaning involves removing soil and debris, scrubbing with hot soapy water and rinsing, using potable/drinking water. Sanitizing involves the use of high heat (e.g., a dishwasher) or chemicals (e.g., chlorine bleach) to reduce or eliminate the number of microorganisms to a safe level.


Keep uncooked poultry, fish, seafood, and meat separated to prevent cross contamination. Keep these items separate from unclean countertops, hands, kitchen equipment and work surfaces.


Cook all meats to the proper internal temperatures. For your client’s reference and to post in their restaurants, the safe minimum cooking temperatures can be found here.


Low temperatures prevent the bread of bacteria. Food should be chilled immediately in a refrigerator at 41 degrees or lower. The temperature of the refrigeration units can be monitored with a thermometer to ensure air is circulating enough.


About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, we strive to provide the proper protections for your clients and their restaurants. From liquor liability to property protection, our specialized coverages can be custom-tailored for their unique needs. For more information, contact us today at (516) 742-8585.

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At RMS and associated firms, business continues as usual. Our staff is remote-capable and available to handle all partners, brokers, and insureds at the present time. Contact us today!