Foodborne disease is a global concern. The severity or mildness of illness that may occur largely depends on the presence of microorganisms. This may be devastating not only for the consumer, but also for the producer. Therefore, an effective food safety management system is critical to maintaining a safe and healthy food supply. Below are some of the major causes and effects of food poisoning and tips on how to avoid them.
What is Foodborne Disease?
A foodborne disease which is often referred to as foodborne illness or food poisoning, is any disease contracted from food contamination, food spoilage or food hazards. Food poisoning often results from improper preparation, handling or storage of food which, in turn, makes food unsafe.
According to research, 5.4 million Australians are estimated to be affected by foodborne disease each year. This is why it is important to follow proper food safety rules in and out of the kitchen in order to reduce the risks of becoming sick from food poisoning.
What are the types of hazards you need to consider for your food safety management?
Food safety hazards or contaminations are conditions or contaminants that can cause death, illness or injury. This can happen in the process of cooking, storage, packaging, handling, production, sales and transportation of food. There are four types of hazards to take into consideration for your food safety plan.
This includes microorganisms like bacteria, parasites, environmental pathogens and other pathogens. Example of a biological hazard is E. coli, Clostridium botulinum and Salmonella.
This includes substances such as pesticides, natural toxins like mycotoxins, cleaning agents, unapproved food or colour additives, biocides, decomposition, water, and contaminants like acrylamide.
This includes objects that are hard or sharp such as metal fragments, stones, glass, packaging and jewelry amongst others.
Allergens are danger associated to the unplanned presence of one or more of the EU listed food allergens due to cross contamination. This include:
- Celery and its products
- Mustard and its products
- Peanuts and its products
- Fish and products of this excluding: fish gelatin used as carrier for vitamin or carotenoid preparations. Also, fish gelatin or Isinglass used as fining agent in beer and wine
- Crustaceans and products made from it
- Eggs and its products
- Molluscs and products made from it
- Lupin and produce made thereof
- Sesame seeds and products therefrom
- Sulphur dioxide and Sulphites
- Nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, among others and its products
- Milk and products made from it including lactose
- Soybeans and food made from it
- Cereals containing gluten including wheat, rye, barley, oats and meals containing this
Causes of foodborne diseases/poisoning
There are numerous causes of foodborne disease. Below are some of the major causes of foodborne disease:
Children, the elderly and people with a weak immune system are most vulnerable to salmonella. Salmonella enterica is a bacterium that causes a type of gastroenteritis called salmonellosis. Foods most likely to be contaminated by salmonella include, beef, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Fruits and vegetables can also carry the bacteria
People who are most vulnerable or at high-risk to listeria are young children, pregnant women, the elderly and also people with weakened immune systems. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can lead to a severe foodborne disease such as meningitis (a brain infection) or septicemia (blood poisoning).
In a pregnant woman, listeria can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or stillborn babies.
Foods most likely to be contaminated by Listeria include precooked deli meats, unpasteurized milk, raw and cooked seafood, and soft-serve ice cream.
Campylobacteriosis is a common cause of diarrhea. People who are most vulnerable are men, infants and young adults. The main cause of this bacteria is the handling and then consumption of bacteria, which are usually found on raw or undercooked poultry.
The major source of staphylococcus are humans and animals. People handling food can easily transfer the bacteria, causing food poisoning. Staphylococcus aureus, golden staph or S. aureus are bacteria that live on the skin, in the mouth and in the nose. This usually begins with a minor cut, which then becomes a small sore when infected. The sore then worsens to become a flesh-eating infection.
Foods at high-risk of staphylococcus include eggs, meats, poultry and dairy produce
People who are most likely to contract this infection are patients in hospitals. Particularly those with weakened immune systems who have had surgery, kidney disease, chemotherapy, or colon disease. Clostridium or C. diff is an infection that can attack the host’s intestines. This is often harmless in small quantities.
Trichinosis is a round worm infection which, when ingested, can live in the intestines and hatch into adult warms. The worms usually originate from carnivorous animals (meat-eating animals) and are transferred to humans through the ingestion of trichinosis eggs found on raw or undercooked meats.
High-risk foods include undercooked or raw meats and undercooked or raw poultry.
Escherichia coli or simply coli infection occurs when contaminated food or water is ingested. This bacteria lives in the digestive systems of humans and animals. Whereas not all E. coli types are dangerous, some can lead to chronic diseases or even death. High-risk foods include unwashed fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry and dairy products.
Food safety when cooking
Irrespective of your reasons for handling food, whether as part of your job, eating out or cooking at home, it is important to always apply appropriate food safety principles. Managing customers’ needs and also complying with safety regulations is no easy task. However, this can be made less complicated when you implement effective food safety management (EFSM). Take control of your food safety plan with SAFEFOODPRO APP.
- Wash your hand in a warm soapy water before cooking
- Make sure you sanitize your work surfaces, tables or countertops
- Avoid putting cooked foods on surfaces that previously held uncooked or raw meats, eggs or poultry.
- Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly to get rid of bacteria.
- Keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
- Cook foods at the appropriate temperature
- Steaks should be cooked at 160O F
- Egg dishes at 165 deg F
- Hotdogs and luncheon meats at 1650 F
- Chicken at 1650F
- Seafood at 1450 F
- Perishable food should be immediately refrigerated.
- Use one cutting board to cut meat and a separate board to cut vegetables
HACCP and Food Safety
The acronym HACCP which means Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Plan, is your key to food safety. This plan has seven principles that are well-defined by the ISO 2005 global food safety management standard (FSMS). This plan keeps food safe from potential food safety hazards. HACCP also reduces the risks of food poisoning by eliminating food contamination.
You are legally required to monitor the temperature of your food whether hot or cold. It is also a protective mechanism against food poisoning for your customers. Having a food temperature monitoring system is an effective method of ensuring that you adhere to all the food safety regulations in your food business. This ensures safety while cooking in the kitchen.