Food contamination can become a real concern especially if you have babies at home or very young children at home. A child's immune system is vulnerable because it is not yet as strong as an adult’s.
Food can become contaminated at different stages — from the time it is still being produced in the farm or factory up to the time we prepare it in our homes. Contamination can be pathogenic and also environmental. Pathogenic contaminants include bacterial, viral and parasitic agents while environmental contaminants may include pesticides and other chemicals that may contaminate food during production and processing.
Common microbial and parasitic sources of food poisoning Food contamination is usually caused by bacterial agents. Salmonella, shigella and campylobacter are usually found in raw meat and poultry, contaminated eggs and unpasteurized milk. Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli is also found in raw meat and unpasteurized milk and come in many strains. However, a particular strain, E. coli O157 can cause serious hemorrhagic (bloody) diarrhea and kidney failure.
Viral agents like norovirus and hepatitis A virus may also cause food poisoning if an infected person does not practice proper hygiene and sanitation or if contaminated food is not sufficiently heated.
Parasites, which may come in the form of single-cell organisms (e.g. protozoans) and larger species (e.g. parasitic worms), may also contaminate food. One of the most common parasites is Entamoeba histolytica, a single-cell, waterborne organism which causes amoebic dysentery. Another species is Taxoplasma gondii, a single-cell parasite usually found in raw or undercooked meat and contaminated water. Parasitic worms like intestinal tapeworm and roundworm may also become a problem if food is not cooked properly and then consumed.
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What you can do to prevent food contamination Knowing the basics of food safety is very important if you want to keep your family safe from food contamination caused by harmful germs and parasites.
1. Practice proper hygiene and sanitation. Cross contamination, which is the spread of pathogens between food, surfaces and food preparation equipment can be prevented if you practice proper hygiene and sanitation. Wash your hands and kitchen tools properly and disinfect surfaces regularly.
Click here to read on for more ways to prevent food contamination.