Food contamination refers to something gets into food which should not be present, which can cause consumer illness ranging from minor gastric problems to major health fatalities.

The food contamination could be due to naturally occurring contaminants in the environment or artificially introduced by the human.

Food can be contaminated at any point of production like growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing.

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Physical Contamination

Contamination of food by foreign object known as physical contamination. You can see these items in food.

This can happen at any stage form food growth to served in a plate. Typical example of physical contamination are hair, glass, metal, pests, Band-Aids, steel, wool and pieces of plastic.

Physical contamination can have adverse effects if consumed and may be carrying biological contamination with them.


Cross Contamination

Accidental contamination of food by transfer of contaminants from one surface, object or person to food is known as cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination mainly occurs due to improper handling procedures.
Generally cross-contamination involves biological contamination but in some cases, it may be physical or chemical contamination.

Typical sources of cross-contamination are clothing, utensils, personal hygiene, pets and storage of food.

Chemical Contamination

Food contamination with a natural or artificial chemical substance is known as chemical contamination. You may be able to smell or taste chemicals in food.

Types of Chemical Contamination

Growth Pesticides, fertilisers, Veterinary drugs

Environmental sources Water, Soil & Air pollution

Cross-contamination or formation during processing

Migration from food packing materials


Biological Contamination

Contamination of food by organisms or substances produce by them is known as biological food contamination. You cannot see, smell or taste microbes in food.

The prime sources of biological contamination are bacteria, viruses and parasites causing food poisoning such as salmonella, E .coli, listeria and norovirus.

Biological contamination may occur from environment (Contaminated water, air, plants), people and animals (Manure, animal living spaces, carcasses).

Salmonella and E. Coli

  • Salmonella, a group of over 2,500 types of bacteria causes food poisoning in humans and animals.
  • Salmonella spread by ingesting salmonella contaminated foods such as raw eggs, raw meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and contaminated water. Contamination takes place when these foods come into contact with animal or human feces and are not cooked properly.
  • Symptoms of Salmonella are diarrhea, vomiting, fever, cramps, headache which can get more serious in infants and the elderly.
  • All E. coli bacteria strains are not causing problems. However, several strains of E. coli can cause food poisoning and result in fatal issues and some E. Coil strains are contagious.
    You can get E. coli by eati
  • ng improperly processed or harvested foods or drinking contaminated E. Coil contaminated water which may have come into contact feces of animal or human.
  • The most common symptom of E-coli are stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody stool which may needs immediate treatment and hospital care.