We call ourselves human beings, albeit one with a complex musculoskeletal system. However, for "being" the machine that we humans consider ourselves to be, fuel is needed. In this case, the fulfilment of the need of hunger and hydration.
Look at the environment around you; there is waste everywhere. Our rivers, lakes, etc. are polluted. So is our land and air. If there is so much pollution, surely bacteria and their carriers thrive around it. These pose a great risk to your health.
Not only is the environment a medium of threat for us, so are we. Humans affect food quality through many actions. These can be both direct and indirect, both being severely harmful.
This article is here to talk about how you can keep your food safe from external factors that may cause it to lose its aspects of nourishment and bring harm to you.
How Many Types of Food Contaminants are there?
There are some ways your food can be contaminated or polluted. Anything that may cause harm to your physical health or devalue your food is considered a contaminant. It is generally agreed that there are four main sectors of food contaminants. These are:
These are contaminants that may fall into or come into contact with your food during processing or handling. While identifying them are the easiest, these are things that should never be around your food in the first place.
For example, broken glass, staples, dirt, bones, nails, hair, polish, etc.
Sometimes, during food processing or cultivating, certain additives are added to food. These are chemicals which temporarily make your food look fresher or bloom earlier, but in the long run, pose a threat to your health.
For example, fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, additives such as food coloring, MSG, Sodium Nitrate, artificial sweeteners, etc.
The main source of contamination exists in and comes directly from the environment. These are the organisms or toxins that require a living host, such as us, to thrive or come from the food we have and affect our natural bodily systems. For example, virus, parasites, bacteria, mushrooms, etc.
So far we have only seen carriers of pathogens, yet it is evident that contamination can be transported from another place, this is called cross-contamination. The most common way for cross-contamination to occur is through irresponsible human handling of food during processing and cultivation.
For example, dirty clothing, unwashed utensils, bad sense of personal hygiene, pests, raw food, garbage cans, etc.
Now that we have seen the types of contamination there are, a more pressing question arises, “How are these taking place?” Out of the two, the environment can be caught in the act, much easier.
How Can Food Be Contaminated by the Environment?
When food is cultivated on land that has a contaminated or polluted underground water system, the plants there will simply absorb in the pollutants and carry them under the radar of health inspection.
This cannot be identified by any of the quality checks since it is a natural process. Thus, your food is contaminated.
Plants and poultry both require air to exist. However, when the air itself is contaminated with factory pollutants, the source of nourishment becomes flawed and your food loses its value. Thus, the culture behind it is wasted in the long run.
Some insects harm the crops, which need to be repelled. Moreover, to meet current demand, farmers use growth enhancements.
Both of the mentioned additives give temporary benefits, and the main cause of concern is the long term health of the person who is eating it, you.
Polluted Water Body
This is similar to the first point but in the case of poultry. If the animals drink from the contaminated water body, such as lakes, they absorb the pollutant factors and becomes carriers for diseases. Thus, contaminating your nourishment at its source.
After food is cultivated or cultured, it needs to be processed and sent to the market. During this handling of the raw materials, many physical and chemical adjustments are made, to make the dairy products look more attractive.
Usually, it doesn't pose a problem due to health inspections, but sometimes people do find physically and chemically contaminated products.
The Concentration Of Pollutants In The Food Chain
It is a mixture of all the points. When an animal eats a contaminated plant or animal, the pollutants are merely transferred from one to another. As a result that animal to becomes a contaminated food source.
For example, a big fish becomes infected when it eats a smaller fish which may have died due to polluted water due to an oil spill.
Now that the environment has been juried, it is time to apprehend the culprit amidst us. You may be surprised to hear it, but you are contaminating your food. Read on to find out how.
How Can Food be Contaminated by Human Beings?
Human hair is physical contamination. It carried sweat and dandruff. Just disgusting to find in your food.
Sneezing and coughing are but common sickness and thus very contagious. This is because these contain bacteria and viruses in concentrated form. Thus, one sneeze can turn a table full of food contaminated.
All of the above discussion may seem pretty alarming to you. It should be. At this point, surely a question has arisen in your head is, “What now?”
Very understandably so. However, there is no need to throw a fit about it. The solutions exist already.
What to Do You Keep Food Safe?
Food is life. Saving your food is a priority. The following are steps that you can take by yourself so that your food does not stay contaminated.
Make sure to wash your hand, food, and surfaces on which the food is kept, at all times.
Make sure to not make the mistake of cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked food close.
It is best to avoid eating raw food as the heat during cooking kills of the germs. It is best to cook with food thermometer so that you can adequately maintain the heat.
Food should be refrigerated properly. This is because, like heat, the bacterium cannot survive in cold temperatures.
Based on these four principles, the following issues need to be handled:
What to Shop?
- Refrigerated or frozen non-perishables
- Avoid unsealed poultry and fish
- Make sure to check “sell-by” dates
How to Store?
- Refrigerate, cook or wrap perishable food item within 2 hours
How to Thaw?
- Slow thawing is recommended
- Ensure the meat does not leak on other food when thawed
How to Prepare?
- Complete sanitization of kitchen-place and surfaces
- Cleanliness of utensils are to be checked
How to Serve?
- Do not serve food that is left out for more than 2 hours
- Pre-heat before serving
- Cover the food when not being eaten immediately
- Discard food left out for more than 2 hours
- Avoid using leftovers
- If thawed by other method than freezing, refreezing is recommended
- Defrosted food may be refrozen if not used
You can’t control the way food is cultivated, cultured or processed and neither can you smell or see bacteria when buying the food.
You can only process and handle them yourself with due accordance to the recommendations in this articles and hope you’ve done a very good job at it. Taking all these precautions is better than not doing anything at all.