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This report has been prepared for research into food contamination safety management. The report includes a review of the controls available for the prevention of food contamination, sources of food contamination and Food Preservation methods. These aspects have been discussed below.
The state of being impure or unfit for use due to presence of undesirable elements is termed as contamination of food. Contamination occurs when something that is abnormal is found in the food. There are various sources of food contamination. These include insects, rodents, microbes, chemicals and other foreign particles. Broadly the three main categories of sources of contamination are physical, chemical and microbial sources.
Physical sources are the substances that become part of the food. There may be no change or damage to the food itself but the presence of certain substances may create health hazard for the consumer. For example presence of dust on food material would not spoil the food but could cause harm to the body due to the substances present in the dust. Apart from dust other physical sources include insects and rodent droppings.
The Insecticides and Pesticides are the chemical substances that are used for improving the yield of the crop by keeping insects and rodents away from contaminating the food. Similarly herbicides are used to protect the food from herbicides. Thus the residue of these pesticides that remains on the food results in chemical contamination. Another way of chemical contamination is through water. The water is a good solvent and thus toxic substances present in water, which otherwise is invisible result in chemical contamination.
The physical and chemical contamination does not change the food itself but are potential hazard when the food is consumed. However the microbial contamination changes the appearance, texture or flavour of the food and thus it is spoiled. Thus microbial contamination occurs when enzymes cause deterioration of food or result in changes in undesirable manner. There are certain microbial actions which is beneficial such as in preparing curd etc. Such microbial action such occurrence of fungi etc. is considered as contamination of food.
The physical contamination is the accidental introduction of foreign bodies such as dirt, hair, glass or metal particles (extrinsic) into food during storage, preparation, service or display. There are different origins of physical contamination such as people, packing materials, pests or unsatisfactory pest control, design and structure (structure of the building, installations or equipment), maintenance and repairs, containers and cleaning activities. Chemical contamination is introduced during production and preparation. These are introduced because of various reasons such as chemicals not stored properly (cleaning), unsafe additives or excess use (nitrates/nitrites) and unsafe equipment such as copper pans, aluminum pots, lead pipe for water
There are various ways in which the contamination of food from different sources can be prevented. The prevention from physical sources can be done by
The physical and chemical sources of contamination are easy to control by taking preventive measures. However the microbial sources of food contamination are quite severe and require treatment to hasten the growth of microbes. The above discussion shows that there are various ways in which different type of contamination can be controlled. There are four ways to control to prevent food contamination. These have been discussed below
There are four ways to control to prevent food contamination. These have been discussed below:
Food preservation is the process of treatment and handling of food to stop or reduce the spoiling of food due to contamination. Preservation is usually done to prevent contamination from microbial sources. The food preservation method of different food sources is different. For example the fruits may be preserved by turning into jam or making pickles. The preparation of jam involves boiling which reduces the moisture content and the microbial growth, sugaring which prevents regrowth and sealing in tight jars to prevent physical contamination. The purpose of the preservation methods is not only to reduce the spoilage of food but also maintain the nutrition value and flavour of the food. The various food preservation methods have been discussed below.
Traditional Preservation Methods
Drying:This is the oldest method of dehydration and thus the water concentration is reduced sufficiently to prevent microbial growth. Almonds, Resins and Cashews are the most common example of this.
Freezing/ Refrigeration: The growth of the microbial sources that result in food contamination is hastened. Freezing refers to preservation of food in solid form and dehydrating when intended to use. Thus the microbial attack is not there and food can be preserved and stored for longer period.
The food products such as Cheese, Beer, Wine or Yoghurt are preserved by this method. In this method the microbe combat spoilage as these microorganisms keep pathogens in check by creating an environment that is toxic for them.
Industrial/ Modern Preservation Methods
Pasteurization:It is the preservation process for liquid food applied mainly for dairy products. In this process the food is first heated to kill the microbes and then cooling it quickly to prevent growth. The food product is then stored in special containers.
Artificial Food Additives
Preservatives are added to food products that have small shelf life such as dairy products and fruits products such as juices. The additives and preservatives are the chemicals that maintain the nutrition level and the taste of the food and at the same time prevent the growth of microbes.
In this process food is exposed to controlled amount of radiation to destroy organisms that are responsible for spoilage. The radiations are either high energy electrons or X rays.
These are some of the methods of preservation. There are several other ways that are specific to certain food products such as jellying, pickling etc. The above discussion shows how the preservation methods can be used to increase the life of the food without impacting the nutrition value or contamination.
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