Module 6: How to Prevent Food Contaminations

To prevent chemical contaminations, always store chemical products safely. Any chemical products such as cleaning products or sanitizers, should be stored away from food and food preparation areas. All of the chemicals used within the work place should be stored in one area and in their original containers. If a chemical must be placed in a container other than its original container, use proper labels to avoid it being mistaken for a different chemical or product. Never use food containers to store chemicals and never store food in containers that used to contain chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer's directions and properly read the warning labels on cleaning products. Consult a manager if you are still unsure on how to use a specific chemical or cleaning product.

Foods that are considered acidic according to the pH scale (potential of hydrogen), has the potential of corroding small amounts of metal containers. This includes wine, vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, or any other acidic food. Once it corrodes the metal, it will dissolve and contaminate the food product within the container. To avoid this contamination, store acidic foods in food-grade plastic containers.

When working in a food service environment, remove any watches, piercings, rings, earrings, necklaces, or other jewelry that may fall into food. These items can also be difficult to sanitize and properly clean or could become tangled in equipment, causing injury. Some food service operations may allow a medical bracelet or wedding band, however. Speak to a manager about the dress code policy prior to working at an establishment. Never wear fake nails, nail polish or eyelashes, which could fall off or flake off and contaminate food.

One of the most common complaints customers have is having a hair in their food. It is imperative that hair restraints, such as hair nets and beard nets are worn to avoid this situation. Long hair should be tied back and covered appropriately to prevent hair from contaminating food. Not only is it an unpleasant sight for customers, humans can also carry microorganisms in their hair.

Be careful when opening packages to make sure that pieces of the packaging do not fall into the food itself. When opening food, make yourself aware of any plastics, metal staples, or other packaging that could contaminate food products.

Food contamination can also occur as a result of workplace hazards. Paint peeling from the wall or ceiling can fall into food and contaminate it, or old equipment can cause pieces of metal to contaminate the food product being used on it. If any workplace hazards are discovered, a manager should be informed.

Food needs to be stored in tightly sealed, covered and labeled containers at all times. Storing food products properly can prevent foreign object contamination, as well as biological contamination. Food products should be placed on shelves that are a minimum of 15 centimetres or 6 inches off the floor.

Since biological contamination can be the most dangerous of all forms of contamination, it is best to prevent biological contamination before it occurs by using the three steps to food safety: prevent microorganisms from contaminating the food in the first place; as food handlers, do our best to delay the growth of microorganisms in food using time and temperature controls; as well as, killing microorganisms by thoroughly cooking food and employing proper cleaning and sanitation techniques.