Understanding chemical and other contaminants in food
An estimated 600 million people in the world fall ill from eating contaminated food each year. 420 000 people die each year from these causes.
Understanding food contaminants is vital to help ensure you do not become one of these 600 million people. Below, we will look at chemical contaminants in food as well as other food contaminant sources.
What Are Chemical Contaminants In Food?
According to Foodsafety, Chemical contamination occurs when chemicals contaminate food. Cleaning products and pesticides from unwashed fruits and vegetables are some of the most common sources of chemical contamination.
Chemical contamination occurs when chemicals get into food. Familiar sources of chemical contamination in a kitchen include:
- Kitchen cleaning agents: Take care not to store food in the same area as cleaning products, and use products designed specifically for kitchens.
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables: Since they contain pesticides and fungicides, wash them thoroughly before eating.
- Containers made from non-safe plastics: Single-use items like plastic containers are not designed to be reused repeatedly. Food should always be stored in containers that are designed to be reused.
- Using pest control products: Pest control products are extremely hazardous. Do not use these products in areas where food is prepared or store them near food items.
- Kitchen Equipment: Kitchen equipment with moving parts, such as slicers and mixers, may need to be oiled regularly. The oil should be food-safe to avoid contamination.
Examples Of Chemical Contaminations In Food
Below are some of the examples of chemical contaminations that you can find in food.
Detergents, sanitizers, and other chemicals you may have on-site are industrial chemicals and cleaning products.
The chemicals used in agriculture may be present on crops, including herbicides, pesticides, pest control products, and fertilizers.
If you use pots and pans, containers, or utensils that are not made from food-grade material or that are not intended for the intended purpose, you may come in contact with toxic metals. These metals are not safe to ingest and can cause illness.
The purpose of preservatives is to make food last longer or taste better. Sulfites in wine and nitrates in meat are examples of preservatives.
Naturally Occurring Toxins
A chemical toxin that occurs naturally in a shellfish, seafood, or plant is a naturally occurring chemical toxin.
They may not harm the organisms that produce these toxins, but humans can be affected by them. Natural toxins are responsible for diseases such as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, caused by eating shellfish.
Other Forms Of Contamination In Food
Cross-contamination occurs when contaminants are transferred from a surface, object, or person to food. There are many ways to accomplish this, including:
- Raw food storage
- Waste control
- Food handlers
When physical objects enter food, it is called physical contamination. The following sources can cause physical contamination:
- Glass or Metal
Contamination with bacteria or other harmful microorganisms results in the food becoming spoiled or poisonous.
Whenever bacteria or germs contribute to food or ‘pathogens,’ this can result in food poisoning. Bacteria are microscopic organisms that divide and multiply rapidly. One single-celled bacterium can grow into two million in just seven hours under ideal conditions.
When certain bacteria multiply and produce waste, they produce toxins as well. Botulinum, the bacterial toxin that causes botulism, is the most potent natural poison known.
Storing your food correctly and washing your fresh produce can help ensure that your food is safe to consume. Chemical contaminants are used to help prolong food lifespan but do not mean they should be ingested.