Contaminants are large contributing factor to food-born illness. A contaminant,
as you may have guessed, is any object or particle that does not belong in your food (so basically, if it is not food and it is in your food it is a contaminant). Contaminants can be things we can see, but they can also things too small for our eyes to see. There are three types of contaminants;
biological, chemical and physical.
Biological contaminants are generally pathogens, but also come in the form of mold, spores, fermentation, and worms.
Biological contaminants can be avoided by purchasing food from reputable
vendors, ensuring time and temperature control, and by preventing cross contamination (hygiene!).
Chemical contaminants often occur in two types of situations. The first is that household chemicals are not properly stored. They should be kept in cabinets or tubs, away from food and food preparation areas, to avoid contact with food. Chemicals can also contaminate food by being used in concentrations higher than recommended. Be sure to read the label on all chemical containers. Also, some chemical reactions occur when certain foods come in contact with certain types of metals, for example, tomatoes and copper. Make sure to be aware of the metals in your kitchen and how you are using them.
Physical Contaminants are foreign objects that can be seen in the food (as long as they are large enough to see). Take care when opening cans (paper and metal filings can fall into your food), washing dishes (scrubbing
implements can “shed”), and to wash hands thoroughly and be careful
of your fingernails and any bandages.
More next time on how to prevent your food from being contaminated!