We all want our food to be delicious and worth devouring, but we want our food to be safe above all these things. But do we know for sure if our food is healthy to be consumed despite its long journey from farm to our plates?
All in all, there are three different types of food contaminations – physical, chemical, and biological – that we need to be aware of. Let’s understand what food contamination is, how we can pinpoint these health hazards, and minimize the risk of food contamination to lead a healthy life.
What is Meant by Food Contamination?
Most of us have heard the term food contamination several times, but what does this term actually mean? After an in-depth analysis, food contamination can be divided into three main categories:
- Chemical Contamination
- Physical Contamination
- Biological Contamination
Since the onset of COVID-19, the people’s biggest concern has been the safety of their food. People now better understand that there isn’t a single form of danger. It comes in many shapes and sizes.
Only strict precautionary measures can help you tackle such dangers. Therefore, it is highly important to implement safe food handling procedures and methods across the entire production and processing chain of your food.
Many food processing facilities use a variety of chemicals, some of which are potentially harmful, to clean and disinfect food items. Now, such chemicals may be a big source of food contamination.
Chemical contamination can start long before it arrives on the conveyor belt, such as the usage of steroid hormones, pesticides, peracetic acid in the feed of the chickens.
To make your food safe from chemical contamination, one can:
- Label all the cleaning products and store them properly
- Whenever you begin the cleaning or disinfection process, follow the instructions of the manufacturer scribbled on the back of the packaging
- Make sure that you use the correct chemicals to clean your product
- Pay extra attention to what the manufacturer has to say about diluting your product, its water temperature, and its contact time
- If you face any kinds of chemical spills, report immediately
The list of physical contamination is very long, and it can be anything: broken glass, hair, metal staples, stones, cloth, plastic, jewelry, dirt, pest bodies, bones, etc. A naked human eye can’t locate these contaminants, but once the consumer eats them, it can create serious health hazards such as:
- Broken teeth
- Foul taste
- Abrasions and cuts
To make things worse, these physical contaminants may contain some biological contaminants that can be detrimental to your health and increase the risk of sickness.
The food processors can take the following measures into account to minimize the risk of food contamination.
- Immediately change the injured equipment
- Immediately report faults with premises and equipment
- Implement a pest control system that thoroughly checks everything
- A strict dress code must be followed in all the food processing facilities
- Regularly check up on the equipment and make sure that everything is in up-to-date condition
And the most important one: Make sure that the food items get carefully inspected at each stage of processing and production.
One comment or a review can make or break the reputation of a brand. Finding the physical contaminants such as bones and metals can have a devastating effect on the brand image.
The food processors can now make use of the metal and bone x-ray detectors that can pinpoint the location of metal or bone in the food items and help them eliminate them.
Biological contamination is the most deadly kind of contamination, and this is the prime reason behind most of the food spoilage and food poisoning among consumers. Biological contamination occurs when some living creatures are transferred from saliva, fecal matter, blood, and pest droppings to food items.
Food-borne illnesses occur when disease-causing and lethal microorganisms, often termed pathogens, slip into the food and begin to multiply at an unbelieving rate. These pathogens include bacteria, mold, viruses, fungi, and some other toxins.
The food processors can consider the following measures to minimize the risk of food contamination.
- Proper techniques of food handling should be in practice
- Rigorous sanitizing measures should be in practice
- The correct food temperature and time must be controlled
- All the staff members must be highly trained, and they must follow all the measures strictly
- The work environment must be kept clean all the time
The Safety of Food is in Our Control
As one can see, any of the three categories of food contamination – chemical, physical, and biological – can occur anytime during the whole process of production.
Thus, if one wants to build a good reputation of the brand, a strong relationship between the supplier and the consumer, and to ensure the safety of the food, one must follow strict food safety guidelines at any given cost.