There are three types of food contamination: biological, chemical, and physical. Serving contaminated food can lead to food-borne illness outbreaks, allergic reactions, and injuries. Food Handlers must be aware of the risks of food contamination, as well as complete training to handle food safely, practice good personal hygiene, and prevent cross-contamination, which is the transfer of contaminants, to protect customers and the food establishment.
Physical contamination happens when physical objects enter the food. Common sources of physical contamination include:
- Hair: Always wear hair neatly tied back and wear a hairnet if possible.
- Glass or metal: Cracked or broken crockery and utensils should be thrown away, as well as any food that might have come into contact with it.
- Pests: Pests — such as mice, rats and cockroaches — leave droppings (urine, saliva, fur, feces) that can contaminate food. Pests themselves can also make their way into food.
- Jewelry: It is not recommended to wear jewelry when handling food. In some regions, it may be restricted by local laws or regulations.
- Dirt: Because dirt is so small, it’s easy not to notice it. Dirt often gets into food via unwashed food and vegetables.
- Fingernails: Always keep nails short and clean to prevent contamination. Avoid wearing fake nails as these can easily fall off and contaminate food.