How does food become contaminated (made impure)?

Harmful germs - such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites - can be on food that if not handled or cooked safely can cause illness. Toxins (poisons) produced by certain bacteria can cause food intoxication (poisoning). Food can also be contaminated by chemicals such as pesticides, certain cleaning compounds, and sometimes by use of improper containers (pots) for cooking or storing food. When ingested in large amounts, these chemicals will cause serious foodborne illness. Food contamination can be caused by:

  • Contamination of food, utensils, and equipment from flies, roaches, and other insects and pests
  • Improper handling, preparing and storing of food
  • Improper washing of hands and fingernails
  • Improperly cleaned and sanitized eating and cooking utensils and equipment
  • People who may seem well but who carry germs that can make other people sick
  • Poor personal hygiene habits of food employees
  • Use of foods from unapproved sources

Show All Answers

1. What is foodborne disease?
2. What are the symptoms of foodborne illness?
3. Are some foods more likely to cause foodborne illness than others?
4. What foods are associated with foodborne illness?
5. How long after I eat contaminated food (or consume bacteria) will I become sick?
6. If I ate out at a local restaurant in my area and the next day I became ill, what should I do?
7. What can I do at home to help protect my family from foodborne illness?
8. How can a customer best assure safe food in a food establishment?
9. How are foodborne diseases diagnosed?
10. How long can I keep meat in my freezer?
11. How are foodborne diseases treated?
12. How does food become contaminated (made impure)?
13. Are some people more likely to contract a foodborne illness? If so, are there special precautions they should take?
14. Does hot water kill bacteria?
15. Does freezing destroy bacteria and parasites?
16. How can a person prevent food poisoning?
17. Where can I learn more about food safety and foodborne diseases?
18. Where can I find information on Food Safety, Bacteria or Spoilage?