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Food Contaminants

Food Contaminants

Food contaminants are those things with the potential to contaminate food and make it unsafe to eat. The things that contaminate food are known as ‘food contaminants’.

 

Types of Food Contaminants

Food contaminants may be either:

 

Food Contamination Examples

The things that contaminate food can either exist in the food naturally or be added to it at some point before it is eaten.

Each food handling business must foster a positive food safety culture. Failure to comply with basic food safety legal requirements is not only a potential risk to public health, but also a risk to the food business’s reputation if things go wrong.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) reported that ten Enforcement Orders were served on food businesses during the month of November for breaches of food safety legislation:

Some of the reasons for the Enforcement Orders in November include: evidence that people were living and sleeping in the food preparation area; dead mice found in the ingredient storage area which is a part of the food production area, along with numerous mice droppings on shelving; ongoing cockroach infestation in the kitchen, storage areas and on the shop floor; large food storage containers found to be covered in food debris, dirt and cobwebs; evidence of mould and mildew on a chip storage container and on the chip scoops; inadequate temperature control measures in place for high-risk foods; no evidence to demonstrate that the food business operator was trained in food safety, with no evidence of a food safety management system; heavy deposits of mouse droppings behind the fridge, freezer and in the main food preparation area and in the dry goods store; evidence that food infested by rodent droppings was placed on the market; an establishment operating as a meat cutting plant, also producing meat preparations and meat products, without approval from the competent authority.

 

Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Cleaning and Food Safety

Cleaning and food safety are inseparable terms. A clean kitchen is one that has been thoroughly cleaned to prevent the contamination of food by living and non-living contaminants. Cleaning safely does not mean cleaning areas and surfaces you can see only. Cleaning safely means cleaning in places you cannot see.

 

Priority Cleaning and Food Safety

High priority cleaning should be given to items that are frequently touched. Examples include water taps, door handles, light switches, etc. These should be cleaned more than once a day to prevent contamination and should be cleaned and allowed to dry naturally after every shift. Allowing items to dry naturally removes the chance of contamination by using towels.

A kitchen must be properly cleaned and sanitised. It is of utmost importance to follow the guides and instructions provided with the cleaning agents to prevent chemical contamination of food.

 

Cleaning Plan

The following six-point cleaning plan is one example of achieving cleaning and food safety:

  1. Pre-clean. Remove all debris and loose dirt (e.g., sweep floors, wipe work surfaces).
  2. Main Clean. Remove grease and waste using detergent and appropriate cleaning materials with hot water.
  3. Rinse. Remove detergent.
  4. Disinfect. Use the appropriate agent. Always follow manufacturers instructions.
  5. Final Rinse. Use potable water to remove all traces of disinfectant.
  6. Dry. Air dry or use disposable towels to avoid the chance of contamination by reusable towels.

All kitchen work areas should be cleaned after each task.

You can find out all about essential food safety in eLearn Safety fully online food safety course Food Safety (HACCP) Level 1 which is based on the training criteria set down by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s Guide to Food Safety Training Level 1.

There are many additional resources available online that look into great detail of cleaning and food safety. For example SafeFood has plenty of very useful information on their website page titled Kitchen hygiene and food safety.

 

General Advices on Cleaning and Food Safety

To keep the kitchen clean, always ensure the following:

Never store chemicals in the same area as food. If food gets contaminated, it can seriously harm all that consume contaminated food.

 

Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Unwitting Food Poisoning

Unwitting food poisoning is the result of people being unaware of basic food safety. It is usually brought on by implementing unsafe practices, taking chances and common misconceptions. Examples of common misconceptions are washing raw chicken before cooking or smelling food to make sure it’s not gone off.

 

What is Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is any disease of an infectious or toxic nature caused by the consumption of food or water. This includes all food and waterborne illness regardless of symptoms. They usually appear within 1 to 72 hours after eating contaminated or poisonous food. You can read some additional information about food poisoning in our blog entry Food Poisoning from 10th February 2023.

Most cases of food poisoning are the result of people not working properly in the kitchen. Another often cause is not paying proper attention to the delivery and storage of food. This is the case when we talk about food handling at home and in a food business.

By nature most food poisoning is unwitting food poisoning. However, it is most certainly always preventable.  This is why training and education are important. To ensure you know how to handle food safely we recommend completing one of eLearn Safety online Food Safety courses. The Food Safety (HACCP) Level 1 is a good starting point.

 

Causes of Food Poisoning

There are many causes of food poisoning, all of which are avoidable. The most common causes are:

 

How Does Unwitting Food Poisoning Occur

As Matthew Gilmour, a Research Scientist and Director of the Food Safety Research Network at Quadram Institute in a report published on RTE (originally published by The Conversation) points out – small routine things, such as ‘sniff test’ might facilitate unwitting food poisoning. We all usually do it, as an unconscious reaction, in a hope to detect any issues with the stored food. However, most food poisoning microbes have no smell. In addition, microbes like Listeria and Salmonella are going to be near impossible to pick up with the sniff test.

As Dr. Gilmour points out “energies are best spent on storing [food] at the right temperature and cooking them for the right amount of time, rather than trusting […] nose to sniff out a pathogen”.

 

Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie