Food Contamination and Food Poisoning

Food contamination: According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) research, Food contamination is generally defined as foods that are spoiled or tainted because they either contain microorganisms, such as bacteria or parasites, or toxic substances that make them unfit for consumption. A food contaminant can be biological, chemical or physical in nature, with the former being more common. These contaminants have several routes throughout the supply chain (farm to fork) to enter and make a food product unfit for consumption.

How to protect food from contamination?

  1. Purchasing fresh and hygienic food
  2. Effective instruction, supervision and training of food handlers
  3. Maintaining high standard of personal hygiene and good environment hygiene practices.
  4. Well designed and well equipped food handling premises.
  5. Effective pest control
  6. Separate storage of raw and uncooked food.
  7. Storage of food at safe temperature.
  8. Proper disposal of spoiled or contaminated food.

Food poisoning: food poisoning is an acute illness which usually occurs within 1 – 36 hours of eating contaminated food. Symptoms generally include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever and collapse.

Food intoxication: due to ingestion of food containing toxin produced by bacteria or other organisms. Example Botulism is caused due to neurotoxin produced by bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

Infection: due to ingestion of food containing live microorganism. Example; staphylococcal food infection.

Causes of food poisoning:

  1. Bacteria and their toxins
  2. Mold and their toxins (mycotoxin)
  3. Chemicals such as insecticides, cleaning agents
  4. Contamination of lead, mercury etc.
  5. Poisonous plants and animals such as fish and shellfish.


About Author

Name : Pratiksha Shrestha

Ms. Shrestha holds masters degree in food engineering and bioprocess technology from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Thailand. She is currently working for Government of Nepal at Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), Kathmandu. She is also a teaching faculty in College of Applied food and Dairy Technology (CAFODAT) affiliated to Purbanchal university, Nepal.