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Food safety

Food - hygiene and sanitation

Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food. These practices prevent contamination and foodborne illnesses.

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Food can be contaminated in many different ways. Some food products may already contain bacteria or parasites. These germs can be spread during the packaging process if the food products are not handled properly. Improperly cooking, preparing, or storing food can also cause contamination.

Properly handling, storing, and preparing food greatly reduces the risk of getting foodborne illnesses.

Food Sources

All foods can become contaminated. Higher risk foods include red meats, poultry, eggs, cheese, dairy products, raw sprouts, and raw fish or shellfish.

Side Effects

Poor food safety practices can lead to foodborne illness. Symptoms of foodborne illnesses vary. They usually include stomach problems or stomach upset. Foodborne illnesses may be severe and fatal. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people who have a weakened immune system are especially at risk.

Recommendations

If your hands have any cuts or sores, wear gloves suitable for handling food or avoid preparing food. To reduce your risk of foodborne illness you should wash your hands thoroughly:

To avoid cross-contaminating food items you should:

To reduce chances of food poisoning, you should:

Related Information

Food poisoning

References

Mody RK, Griffin PM. Foodborne disease. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 103.

Ochoa TJ, Chea-Woo E. Approach to patients with gastrointestinal tract infections and food poisoning. In: Cherry JD, Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 44.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. Food safety: by types of foods. www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/index.html. Accessed April 17, 2018.

United States Department of Agriculture. Food Safety and Inspection Service. Keeping food safe during an emergency. www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/emergency-preparedness/keeping-food-safe-during-an-emergency/CT_Index. Updated July 30, 2013. Accessed April 17, 2018.

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Review Date: 1/13/2018  

Reviewed By: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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