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Cross-contamination infographic

This information has been reviewed and approved by BJ Lanser, MD (October 2017).

Can Utensils Make You Sick?

Food allergy reactions can be triggered by cross-contamination from a very small amount of food. Here’s what you need to know.


How Cross-Contamination Happens

  • Food-to-Food

  • Food-to-Object

  • Food-to-Saliva


13 Ways to Avoid the Dangers of Cross-Contamination

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling, cooking and eating foods.

  2. Don't eat or drink while cooking.

  3. Use one cutting board for each food group.

  4. Properly sanitize dishes and utensils after each use.

  5. Don't cook items side-by-side to avoid food splatter.

  6. Store food individually wrapped and sealed.

  7. Store nuts separately from other food.

  8. Place raw meat on a drip tray to thaw in the refrigerator.

  9. Use color-designated knives and cutting boards for each allergenic food.

  10. Use disposable towels to clean countertops and wipe hands.

  11. Designate specific dishes to be used only by the food-allergic person.

  12. Clean all cooking equipment and dishes thoroughly with soap and water.

  13. Use soap and water to clean kitchen surfaces.



  • Nearly 1/3 of children with food allergies have multiple food allergies.

  • The most common food allergens are milk, egg, soy, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, fish and shellfish.

  • Hand sanitizers do not remove food allergens.


More Information on Food Allergies

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