May 19, 2021 by D.Fathia
Updated May 19, 2021
New research on bacteria and the potential for food safety
Food safety is a scientific discipline that monitors food handling, processing, storage, and storage to prevent food-borne diseases.
Food impacts our health deeply. Mishandling or mistreatment of food could result in various illnesses and fatal ends in certain cases.
As kids, we were taught to wash our hands before and after a meal, not to play with food, and a bunch of other instructions that aimed at keeping us safe and keep our food clean. Well, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Huge efforts are being done before food would reach our pantries and tables. The safety of food is being ensured through a bulk of coded measures and practices. Whether agricultural products or processed and packaged food, bacteria and other elements might interact with food and spoil it. That’s why we must pay attention to the way our food is being handled.
What is food safety?
If you are wondering what is food safety, then here is a concise answer for you: the field is based on considerations of the origins of food, food labeling, additives, food hygiene, and pesticides residue, as well as policies on biotechnology and export and import policies and inspection and certification systems.
The world health organization, WHO, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, are the main international organizations that deal with issues concerning the safety of food and regulations in the field. Other national organizations do exist; along with states’ governments, they seek to limit food contamination and apply a standard code of conduct.
WHO released a few recommendations on the issue in the 2010 Prevention of Food-Borne Disease: Five Keys to Safer Food. These are:
- Prevent contaminating food with pathogensspreading from people, pets, and pests.
- Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked foods.
- Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.
- Store food at the proper temperature.
- Use safe water and safe raw materials.
These points address individuals in an attempt to inform them about the dangers of food pathogens and the importance of handling food properly. These efforts should complement the efforts done at the level of corporations, states, and all parties working toward safer food options.
What is temperature control in food safety?
When it comes to food, people’s preferences differ significantly. The temperature of the food, however, does not only have to abide by people’s desire but also by safety concerns. What is temperature control in food safety?
TCF aims to minimize the risks of bacterial growth and toxin formation in foods. Temperature control either keeps the food out of the danger zone or passes it through it as fast as possible. The temperature danger zone is between 41°F and 135°F. In this zone, bacteria are likely to grow best.
Other rules concerning temperature degrees for cooling, heating, reheating, and other acts are also coded. Regulations might differ from one country to another, but the main safety standards are always there.
What food items need time and temperature control for safety?
Potentially hazardous food is food that needs to be kept under certain temperature degrees to prevent or minimize the growth of pathogens and toxin formation.
Then, what food items need time and temperature control for safety? Well, the list includes food from animal sources; it might be cooked or raw. These can be dairy products such as milk, eggs, cheese, and meat, and poultry.
Also, food from plant origin falls under the list. It might be cooked such as rice and potatoes, or raw such as leafy greens and tomatoes. The mixture of both cooked and raw foods falls under another category and needs different heat.
Unfortunately, food can transmit and serve as a reproductive medium for pathogens. Pathogens are of various types, mainly bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus.
Food-borne pathogens might result in diarrhoea or debilitating infections including meningitis. Chemical contamination might lead to more severe conditions. It could cause cancer and long-term disability. Food contamination might even cause death.
Luckily, scientists have just discovered five previously unknown types of bacteria. These are promising findings that would certainly improve food safety measures.
The recent discovery, by a team from Cornell University, will expand the list of listeria to be controlled in food production. Catharine R. Carlin, a doctoral student in food science declared that "expanding the knowledge base to understand the diversity of listeria will save the commercial food world confusion and errors, as well as prevent contamination, explain false positives and thwart foodborne outbreaks."
L. immobilis, one of the newly discovered species, lacks motility, which is characteristic of listeria. Motility was relied upon as key in the detection of listeria. The recent discovery resulted in calls to update and rewrite the standard identification protocol.
Following the food safety guidelines is an obligation for all parties involved in the supply chain of food. Training courses are available, even online, for interested people to undertake. Yet, following the food safety guidelines is not only meant for producers and those involved in the markets, it is for individuals to comply with as well.