Food contamination refers to food that contains substances that make the food unsuitable for human consumption. Food contaminants are essential to public health because food contaminants cause illness and can even cause death in extreme cases. This topic is relevant today because food-borne diseases are a serious public health challenge all over the world.
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There three main types of food contaminants; biological, chemical and physical. Biological comprise of living microorganisms contained in food such as bacteria, parasites and viruses. These microorganisms get into food in various ways. Poultry or meat maybe contaminated with intestinal bacteria when the meat is being processed; water that is used during growing may contain microorganism and improper handling of food during preparation may also cause biological contamination. Chemical contaminants refer to chemical compounds found in food. Chemical contaminants get into food in various ways. Use of agrochemicals such as pesticides, rodenticides and herbicides are sources of chemical contaminants. Another source of chemical contaminants is the environment in which the food is grown, stored, transported, processed and packaged. Physical contaminants refer to the presence of visible substances in food that are suitable for consumption. A common example of physical contaminants is human hair in food.
Government regulation can reduce the hazards of food contaminants by ensuring that only safe and healthy foods are supplied in the market for consumers to buy. The food should be tested for the most common food contaminants and only food that meet the minimum standards should be allowed in the market. This way, only food that is uncontaminated will be consumed hence reducing the hazards of food contaminated. Consumers can decrease the risk from food contaminant by purchasing only food that is tested and approved by the relevant authorities, washing hands before eating and buying food that are prepared in healthy environments.
Creaser, C., & Purchase, R. (2010). Food Contaminants: Sources and Surveillance (Revised ed.). London: Woodhead Publishing.
Mahindru, S. N. (2009). Food Contaminants-origin, propagation & Analysis. New York: APH Publishing.