How to handle raw meat safely and avoid cross-contamination

Raw meat can carry germs like viruses and bacteria that can make you sick. These can transfer to our hands, cooking utensils, and other food. This is called "cross-contamination". Find out how to avoid it.

Take care handling raw meat

Raw meat (especially poultry, like chicken) can give you food poisoning. This is because germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter can live on it. These can spread to different foods if you're not careful.

Campylobacter and Salmonella and the illnesses they cause

Tips to avoid cross-contamination

We suggest you keep raw meat away from other food. You should also cook raw meat properly to reduce the risk.

Buying and storing meat

  • Separate raw meat from other foods in your shopping trolley or basket. If it isn't in leak-proof packaging, put it in plastic bags to stop juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Store it away from any food that doesn't get cooked, including fruit and vegetables.
  • Store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge to stop any leaking juices (which contain germs) from dripping onto other foods.
  • Storing raw meat in containers will catch any juices and save unnecessary cleaning up. Ensure containers are cleaned afterwards.

Preparing raw meat

  • Ensure meat juices do not drip onto other foods.
  • Completely defrost meat before cooking to make sure it cooks evenly. Defrost it in your fridge overnight, or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Do not wash meat before cooking. Washing creates puddles and sprays that spread germs around the kitchen.
  • Ideally, use a separate chopping board for raw meat. If you only have one, make sure to clean it properly after use.
  • Wash hands with soap and hot water after handling raw meat.

Cooking meat

  • Cook meat, especially poultry and mince, thoroughly all the way through until juices run clear. If you can, use a meat thermometer to check temperatures at the middle of the thickest part of the meat. Internal temperature should be 75 degrees Celsius for 30 seconds. Or, 70 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes, or 65 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes can be used.
  • If you choose to use leftover marinade, bring it to a boil first.
  • Never return cooked meat to the dish or board that held raw meat.
  • Do not serve cooked meat with utensils used on raw meat.
  • Reheat leftovers until steaming hot (over 75 degrees Celsius) and do not reheat more than once.

Find out more

Clean, Cook, Chill

Food safety tips

Food safety in the home – brochure [PDF, 1.7 MB]

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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