For food to reach your table, they must go through some steps, which is known as the food production chain.
Food contamination can occur in any of them – whether during production, processing, distribution, or preparation.
In the early stages of the chain, you may not be in control, however in others you are responsible for ensuring that the food reaches your home without contamination. So following food safety guidelines is basic.
Production encompasses both agricultural production (vegetables) as well as livestock production to obtain our food. Some foods are caught wild, such as some fish, mushrooms, and game of some animals.
How can food become contaminated during Production?
-Fish can acquire toxins from what they eat in the sea.
-The fields can be contaminated through irrigation waters, or by the use of uncontrolled pesticides so that fruits and vegetables can be contaminated even before harvest, among others.
Vegetables or animals undergo various procedures, from simple to complex, to be consumed as food.
For example the pasteurization of milk, slaughter of animals and everything that involves food processing in production plants.
During production a food could be contaminated for many reasons, for example:
-If the surfaces are contaminated with germs and the entire production line could be contaminated.
-On the trail, if proper procedures are not followed carefully.
-If the water or ice used to wash fruits or vegetables is contaminated.
Distribution means transporting food from the farm or processing plant to the consumer through food supply centers, markets, supermarkets.
Or towards food services such as restaurants, cafeterias, hospital kitchens, among others. It can involve a single step or many if there are intermediaries.
-Fresh food can become contaminated during transport if the units are not cleaned or the proper temperatures are not maintained for food preservation. For example, if products such as cheese are transported without refrigeration.
-If the food in the warehouse is left on shelves at room temperature, it could reach temperatures that allow bacterial growth.
Generally, in the production and distribution, systematized norms are followed by the merchants that control and prevent food contamination.
However, since you go to the supermarket for them, start counting the time in which you can expose perishable foods to heat temperatures and start bacterial growth.
In just 2 hours a perishable food such as cheeses, meats, fish, ham, among others, can become contaminated if it is at room temperature, that is, if it is at temperatures of 40 ° F (4 ° C) and 140 ° F ( 60 ° C). It can even be in an hour if it’s over 90 ° F (32 ° C).
What can you do to help prevent food contamination?
-When you go shopping, put perishable products (dairy, meat, fish and seafood) in the supermarket cart last to reduce the exposure time at room temperature.
-Avoid mixing the products, that is, keep the cheese apart from the raw meat for example.
-Take a portable cooler with you and put perishable products separately, so they will be at adequate temperatures until you get home.
During food preparation, you make it possible to consume them, whether by washing, disinfecting, cooking, preparing, serving or simply removing them from their containers. It can be carried out in the kitchen of your home, or of a restaurant or institution.
Generally, at the institutional level, rules and procedures are followed to avoid food contamination.
It is in the home where food can become more contaminated, so it is important to wash, disinfect, prepare and store food properly.
How can food be contaminated when cooking?
-A sick person can transmit germs to food when preparing food either at home or at work. If you don’t wash your hands or if you spread sneezes.
-In addition, food can be contaminated if you use a knife or cutting board that was used to cut raw and cooked food, or use a dirty cloth or food that falls on the floor.
-Contamination can occur in the refrigerator or refrigerator if a food consumed raw is contaminated with juices or blood from the meat.
- 7 Foods with a high risk of being contaminated and making you sick
Avoid contamination with good food handling:
Following washing, disinfection, preservation and food preparation techniques helps to avoid food contamination.
- How to avoid getting sick from Salmonella
However, it is also to be aware that perishable foods must be at adequate temperatures, that is, refrigerated, freezing. And avoid exposing them for more than 2 hours in the temperature danger zone which is 40 ° F (4 ° C) and 140 ° F (60 ° C).
If a food is already contaminated from origin, we may not even realize it, but poor handling can even exacerbate the disease.
Many germs grow rapidly at room temperature, and some can multiply rapidly in a few hours.
Subjecting food to high temperatures with cooking helps, however it is not always effective. Some bacteria produce toxins that are resistant to heat.
If you want a balanced and healthy diet, MiDieta offers you personalized meal plans according to your food preferences. It has about 3000 recipes from different countries.
Always remember to observe the food safety regulations and remember that proper hand washing is very important at all times, especially before preparing food.