Food Safety and the Four Types of Food Contamination
Whether you work in a food service establishment or simply cook at home, understanding the potential risks and hazards associated with food safety is critical. There are already numerous food safety courses available in Singapore that provide a wealth of information on this subject. One of the key topics covered in it is the risk of food contamination.
When it comes to F&B establishments, food contamination is a severe issue that can affect both consumers and businesses. Once this problem emerges, it can put the customer’s health and safety in jeopardy while also harming the business’s reputation.
What is Food Contamination?
Even though this phrase is commonly used, many still remain unaware of the precise sources of food contamination and their impact on health. Food contamination is caused by disease-causing organisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites when food is not processed or cooked properly. These disease-causing organisms produce toxins that lead to food poisoning. Typically, food contamination is caused by the following factors.
- Improper food storage, handling, and preparation
- Utensils that are not properly cleaned or sanitised
- Insects or pests on the premises
In food safety courses, it is stated that there are four types of food contamination. If you are planning to work in F&B establishments, it is essential for you to be aware of these food contamination types.
1. Biological Contamination
A common cause of food poisoning and spoilage, biological contamination occurs when disease-causing bacteria or other harmful organisms known as ‘pathogens’ infect food and are consumed. Bacteria are microorganisms that split and develop quickly, transforming single-cell bacteria into millions in a matter of hours. Certain food items are more vulnerable to biological contamination as they provide optimal conditions for bacteria to survive and grow.
2. Chemical Contamination
When food is tainted by a chemical substance, it is known as chemical contamination. As chemicals are often used in the kitchen for cleaning and disinfecting, their ability to contaminate food is not surprising. When food is prepared on a surface with chemical residue or using cleaning chemicals close to exposed food, it can result in chemical contamination. According to food safety course content, food can also be tainted by chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides before it reaches the kitchen.
3. Physical Contamination
In instances where a foreign object taints food during the meal preparation process, it is called physical contamination. This form of contamination can be dangerous to the customer, resulting in broken teeth or choking. Some of the physical pollutants that can be commonly found in food include hair, pieces of plastic, stones, dead insects, bones, etc. Furthermore, any flaws in the facilities or equipment, such as flaking paint or loose screws, could also make their way into the food. If any of these contain harmful bacteria, it can create an even higher risk.
Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are transferred from any object used in the kitchen. It might come from unclean utensils, dirty kitchen clothes, insects as well as raw food. Based on food safety course content, the following are some steps that can assist in preventing cross-contamination.
- When preparing different types of food, use separate utensils.
- Ensure that no ready-to-eat meals come into contact with raw food.
- Properly seal and store garbage to avoid cross-contamination.
To Sum It Up
These four types of contamination are the main causes of most foodborne illnesses. Therefore, everyone who works in the food service sector is responsible for taking reasonable precautions to safeguard customers from foodborne infections.
Enrol in Food Safety Courses at Assure Safety
Assure Safety specialises in offering excellent safety consulting, certification, and WSQ training. Our food safety courses are designed for food handlers and those who wish to work in the food service industry. These programs begin with a food safety/hygiene course level 1 and progress upward.
Starting from March 2023, the progressive wage model became available to Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) working in food services, allowing full-time lower-paid employees to receive an annual increment. However, to meet the food services progressive wage model training requirements, completing at least two WSQ courses are mandatory.
If you wish to fulfil your PWM training requirements and avoid having your work pass suspended, sign up for our food safety courses today!