Food contamination refers to the presence of harmful materials in food, which may often lead to illnesses. This could be through chemical deposits or through the presence of microorganisms. Nevertheless, food contamination is not a given; it can be prevented.
According to W.H.O statistics on food safety, “an estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs).”
So, how then can you prevent food contamination? If you have been doing any of the following highlighted below, you are exposing your food to contamination and your body to diseases.
Careless Use of Chemicals
There is need to be careful in the use of chemicals like insecticides in the house, especially in the kitchen. Such chemicals used to kill insects would definitely be harmful to your body system.
It is important to properly cover all cooking utensils – plates, spoons, pots (even if they are covered with the food in it), cups etc. with kitchen napkins whenever you need to spray the kitchen. Also ensure that you properly clean and wash all surfaces, materials and handles that had contact with the chemical.
Cooking with Unwashed Hands
It is not safe to assume that since the food is to be cooked, there won’t be need to wash dirty hands. Your dirty hands could contaminate the utensils that are used in cooking, which might later contaminate the finished food. Always wash your hands properly before cooking and avoid touching cooking utensils with dirty hands.
Cooking And Eating In Unhygienic Environments
Preventing dirt from getting into your food while cooking in a dirty environment can be hard, as you will have to interact with your environment while cooking. So, you need to keep your environment clean always to avoid contamination.
Using Dirty Utensils To Cook
This point might sound far-fetched as it seems impossible for people to use dirty utensils, but it happens a lot of times. No matter who used a utensil, wash and dry after use. This is because unwashed utensils could collect microorganisms, either from the air or from crawling insects.
Aiding Cross Contamination
Cross contamination occurs when an already contaminated item serves to contaminate an uncontaminated item. For example, unwashed vegetables kept beside freshly washed vegetables will definitely contaminate it. Store foods separately or you would often have your food contaminated.
Eating Undercooked Food
Foods like beef, fish or chicken often get contaminated with the feces of the animal, when it is being killed. It is advisable to eat only well cooked meat to prevent contamination.
Cooking with Contaminated Water
Water could easily get contaminated if not well stored. Using water that has been infected with feces or urine from human or animals to cook can lead to food contamination, especially in cases where it doesn’t boil to the required standards or mistakenly gets into the prepared food.
There are many ways through which food contamination can occur. You must therefore make conscious efforts to protect your family and loved ones from life threatening diseases, which may be occasioned by food contamination.