What is Food Contamination and How can you avoid it?

Being a restaurant or bar owner, there are many ways food or produce contamination can happen to you. Understanding what it is and how it can be avoided is essential to the life line of your establishment.

Food contamination refers to foods that are spoiled or tainted because they either contain microorganisms, such as bacteria or parasites, or toxic substances that make them unfit for consumption. Food contamination can be microbial or environmental, with the former being more common. Environmental contaminants that can enter the food supply chain include pesticides, heavy metals, and other chemical agents. Many opportunities exist for food to become contaminated as it is produced and distributed. First, bacteria are present in the animals raised for food. Meat and poultry can become contaminated during slaughter through cross-contamination from intestinal fecal matter. Similarly, fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed using water contaminated with animal manure or human sewage. During food processing, contamination is also possible from infected food handlers.


Cutting Boards and Food Safety
Type of boards: Choose either wood or a non-porous surface cutting boards such as plastic, marble, glass, or pyroceramic. Non-porous surfaces are easier to clean than wood.

Avoid cross-contamination: Use one cutting board for fresh produce and bread and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. This will prevent bacteria on a cutting board that is used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood from contaminating food that requires no further cooking.

Cleaning cutting boards: To keep all cutting boards clean, wash them with hot, soapy water after each use; then rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Non-porous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards and solid wood boards can be washed in a dishwasher (laminated boards may crack and split). Both wooden and plastic cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels.

Replace worn cutting boards: All plastic and wooden cutting boards wear out over time. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, they should be discarded.


  • Wash hands, utensils and food surfaces often. Keeping hands, utensils and food preparation surfaces clean can prevent cross-contamination, i.e. the transfer of harmful bacteria from one surface to another.
  • Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. When shopping, preparing food or storing food, keep raw meat, poultry, fish and shellfish away from other foods. This also prevents cross-contamination.
  • Cook foods to a safe temperature. You can kill harmful organisms in most foods by cooking them to temperatures between 140°F and 180°F.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods. Harmful bacteria can reproduce rapidly if foods are not properly cooled. Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within two hours of purchasing or preparing them.
  • Defrost food safely. Bacteria can reproduce rapidly on meat, poultry and fish at room temperature. To defrost food safely, tightly wrap meat, poultry and fish so that the juices do not drip on other food as they thaw in the refrigerator. Another method is to put the frozen food in a plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. The sealed food package can also be placed under cold, running water. Cook food immediately after defrosting.
  • Use caution when serving food. Throw out any leftovers that have been at room temperature for more than two hours or in hot weather for more than an hour. If cold food needs to sit out for longer than two hours, use a tray of ice under the food to keep it cold. If hot food must sit out for longer than two hours, use warming trays to keep the food hot.
  • Throw it out when in doubt. If you are not sure if food has been prepared, served or stored safely, throw it away.
  • Know when to avoid certain foods altogether.

If you have any questions, please email me.


Author pizzasurance

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