Food Safety Issues/Cross-Contamination

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Question
My husband thinks I'm neurotic about cross-contamination. This evening, we were preparing dinner and he was grating the cheese. He put the grater down on the counter and when he lifted it up again to grate some more cheese I noticed that right under where the grater was sitting there was a patch of dried pork blood on the counter that I'd missed when I cleaned up earlier. I immediately freaked out and told him that he should wash the grater with antibacterial dish soap before using it again but he told me I was being neurotic and just went on grating the cheese. I didn't eat any of it but he quite happily ate everything he grated. So my question is, how much do you have to worry about cross contamination? Am I being neurotic to think that grating cheese with a grater that briefly touched some dried pork blood is going to make my husband sick? He keeps reminding me that those grocery store conveyor belts get raw chicken juice all over them and people routinely set un-bagged food down on them so if cross contamination was really that dangerous lots of people would be getting sick just from that ... He has a point but now I'm kind of freaking out about conveyer belts too. :)  What are the chances he's going to get sick from the pork blood and if he does, how long will it take for him to start feeling ill? Thank you! -Kate

Answer
Hi Kate,

Cross-contamination can be an issue and has been the cause of foodborne illness, though I'm not aware of any known cases involving dried pork blood.  

Now if you told me that the cheese came in contact with fresh blood -- then that would be a different story.  But with the blood being dried there is very little, if any chance, that cross contamination occurred.  

So what are your chances of getting sick from dried pork blood?  Pretty darn slim (you would have a better chance of winning the lottery!)  And if he did become ill it would depend on the organism and whether it is a live organism that could make you ill or its waste product.  In the case of the former it could take days or weeks, in the case of the later -- hours.  Again, the chances are extremely miniscule so I wouldn't worry about it.

Carol

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Carol Schlitt

Expertise

I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.

Experience

I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc - www.safeandsavorysolution.com

Organizations
National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

Education/Credentials
BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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