When it comes to illnesses caused by food, there can be many culprits. Fortunately, virtually all of these illnesses can be avoided by learning about food safety hazards. Certain foods come with more risk than others, so it helps to be able to identify these and takes steps to maintain food safety. Animal products, seafood, and vegetables all have their own particular dangers, which we’ll identify. Other food safety hazards can be found within different preparation methods such as slow cookers and barbecues. Food may be contaminated with various toxins, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We will look at some of these in greater detail, and learn how to avoid them.Common Food Safety Hazards
You often hear about raw meat making people ill, and for good reason. Raw meat can harbor all sorts of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. This is why it must be kept separate from all other foods, and cooked properly before being served. It can be difficult to tell whether meat is contaminated or not, so you should just consider all raw meat to be potentially contaminated. Seafood poses some food safety hazards, as well. Products of certain marine systems contain toxins and other contaminations. Some types of fish contain mercury, so it’s good to limit consumption of these, especially when pregnant. Oysters will sometimes contain viruses. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, always make sure that you wash it before consuming. Most produce is grown in outdoor environments that can’t control for complete sanitation.Safe Cooking Methods
Certain preparation methods can also be potential food safety hazards. For instance, when barbecuing food, it’s necessary to ensure that food is stored properly before it is cooked. Barbecuing is popular in the warmer weather, but this is also the time when pathogens in food can multiply the fastest. All meat and poultry should be kept cold until it is ready to use. During the barbecuing process, make sure to use different utensils for raw and cooked meat to prevent cross-contamination. If you want to use a slow cooker to prepare a meal, consider how fast it heats up. If it does not reach ample temperature quickly, it could promote pathogen growth.Various Types of Pathogens in Food
There are some common types of bacteria and viruses that can be found in improperly stored, prepared, or cooked food. Salmonella is a bacteria that mostly contaminates meat and eggs. However, it can be passed along easily from one food to another. E. coli bacteria is another common contaminant in food. This is a naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines of humans and animals, so there are many possible sources for contamination. Norovirus is a pathogen that causes stomach upset. This virus may be present in foods that have somehow come in contact with sewage, such as oysters.
While there are plenty of ways for food to become contaminated and cause illness, there are an equal number of ways to prevent it. Recognizing the possible health concerns with regards to food can help you avoid all the bad stuff. So, learn about food safety, and enjoy your meals with peace of mind.