what is the main cause of food contamination servsafe

What Is the Main Cause of Food Contamination ServSafe? | 3 Types of Contaminants

Learn about the main cause of food contamination and how to prevent it with ServSafe.  “What is the main cause of food contamination ServSafe?”- In this guide, Servsafe-Prep will show you all the information you need to know! Discover essential insights and best practices to safeguard your food and ensure the health and safety of your customers.  […]

June 3, 2023

Learn about the main cause of food contamination and how to prevent it with ServSafe.  “What is the main cause of food contamination ServSafe?”- In this guide, Servsafe-Prep will show you all the information you need to know! Discover essential insights and best practices to safeguard your food and ensure the health and safety of your customers. 


Food contamination is a significant concern in the food industry and can have severe consequences for public health. Understanding the main causes of food contamination is crucial for ensuring food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses. This article aims to explore the primary causes of food contamination, including microbial, chemical, and physical contamination, along with the common pathogens involved. Additionally, it will discuss the factors contributing to food contamination, the impact it can have, and the preventive measures and regulatory standards in place.

What Is Food Contamination?

what is the main cause of food contamination servsafe

The presence of undesired chemicals or compounds in food that may impair public health is referred to as food contamination. Food contamination is a worldwide issue that has a substantial impact on all other businesses. Depending on the type of food contaminant present, the presence of undesired chemicals in food might result in foodborne diseases and other associated problems. Every food handler’s obligation as a part of the food business is to understand the best techniques for controlling food contamination.

Food contamination can happen anywhere throughout the food supply chain. Certain sections of the supply chain can be readily infiltrated and create a major foodborne disease epidemic if suitable preventative measures are not taken. The consequences of food contamination cannot be overstated. Some dietary pollutants can be harmful to one’s health and even cause death. As a food safety manager, you want all forms of food pollutants to be kept out of your food processing and delivery areas.

3 Types of Contaminants

Most contaminants enter food through the negligent food handler, whether by cross-contamination with surfaces or tools or by failing to wash hands after using the lavatory, resulting in fecal-oral pathway contamination (feces lingering on fingers and transferring to meals). Contamination can also be caused by using a cleaner too close to food or leaving bones in a fish filet. A manager’s priority is to understand all contamination kinds and their sources.

Biological Contaminants

Biological contamination, perhaps the most prevalent sort of contamination, refers to the presence of hazardous microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, yeasts, viruses, and parasites. Pathogens are the aggregate name for these dangerous agents. The impact of bacterial contamination in food can range from modest symptoms like nausea to life-threatening foodborne diseases.

The following are some of the most prevalent biological pollutants in the food industry:

  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Campylobacter
  • Staphylococcus aureus

These pathogens are the top five bacteria responsible for foodborne diseases in the United States. Other pathogens that are top competitors in this category include Clostridium botulinum, E.coli, and Listeria. Every year, these microorganisms cause at least 20% of foodborne illnesses in the United States.

Effects and Sources of biological contamination

After a while, biological contaminations can cause noticeable changes in food. Under favorable conditions, such as those found in the temperature danger zone, biological contaminants can create acid and reduce the pH of the product, as well as a poor odor or changes in the color and texture of the food. These changes indicate that the food has spoiled and that it is no longer safe to consume.

Microbial contamination can have serious consequences, but it is always possible to avoid and control it. Controlling biological pollutants requires good food safety standards and frequent monitoring. The sources of these pollutants may be regulated and eliminated with an efficient food safety management system.

Some biological pollutants are naturally present in fresh food, particularly those cultivated from soil and subjected to environmental contaminations, such as root crops. Other animal-derived foods, such as unpasteurized milk and raw meat, are high in nutrients and serve as an ideal breeding ground for pathogenic microbes. Furthermore, polluted water is a high-risk source of these biological pollutants. This fact demonstrates the need to properly prepare and cook any food item in order to prevent germs from causing damage or injury to customers.

Chemical Contaminants

what is the main cause of food contamination servsafe

Chemical contamination is the presence of undesirable substances in food that might endanger its safety. The most frequent chemical pollutants are as follows:

  • Cleaning products
  • Fertilizer waste
  • Pesticides
  • Oils used in industry
  • Additives
  • By-products

Industrial, agricultural, poisonous heavy metal, natural, and preservation chemicals are the several types of chemical pollution. These categories are determined by the source of a pollutant. While chemical contamination is less common than biological contamination, it has the ability to do severe damage.

Effects and Sources of chemical contamination

Cleaning compounds, for example, might cause burning, swelling, stomach difficulties, and occasionally even long-term damage. This sort of chemical material may be introduced into the food being produced as a result of inappropriate use or storage. When cleaning materials are not adequately removed, they might remain on surfaces and be transmitted to food.

Utensils covered with non-food grade materials have been documented to have contaminated foods with harmful metals in some circumstances. This scenario demonstrates how critical it is that the source of your resources is of excellent quality. The same is true for your raw food ingredients. Fertilizer residues and insecticides, for example, might remain on fresh vegetables. You may do certain chemical tests on food to verify it, or you can force your suppliers to do so on a regular basis.

When it comes to chemical contamination, food preparation also plays a significant impact. When substances such as additives are used in excess or detected in goods where they should not be, they are termed contaminants. Furthermore, byproducts such as acrylamide can be utilized to detect temperature abuse. This compound is a dangerous chemical that is classified as a carcinogen.

Physical Contaminants

The presence of undesirable foreign elements in the food is referred to as physical contamination. When these foreign materials are eaten, they can cause injuries, bleeding, choking, and shattered teeth. In the worst-case scenario, physical pollutants can obstruct air passages and prohibit proper breathing. Depending on the type of pollutant, physical contaminants can be classified as natural or unnatural. The presence of the following items is an example of physical contamination:

  • Bone fragments
  • Feathers or hair
  • Pits, stem, and skin of fruits
  • Glass
  • Soil or sand
  • Metal shards
  • Pest droppings
  • Personal effects

Natural physical contaminants are those that occur naturally in food components, such as fruit stems, whereas unnatural physical contaminants include stones, glass, and metal particles. Physical pollutants, depending on their size, can be recognized visually.

Effects and sources of physical contamination

Physical contaminations can cause catastrophic damage to customers if they go undiscovered. Some may cause harm, while others may cause throat or mouth wounds. Some physical pollutants, such as fingernails or hair in food, can be conveyed from food handlers. These pollutants, in addition to inflicting harm, can act as precursors to other forms of contamination, such as biological contamination. Fingernails can transfer potentially hazardous microbes into meals.

This is true when it comes to physical pest infection. When these chemicals enter the food, pathogens, and illnesses can develop. This consequence emphasizes the necessity of keeping pests away from the manufacturing environment.

Physical contamination can cause massive food recalls in food producers. The presence of physical pollutants topped the list of food recalls in 2019. These pollutants were claimed to be made up of hard and soft polymers, metal, rubber, and glass, and they may have come from packing materials or poorly maintained machinery.

General Prevention and Control Measures

Preventing food contamination requires a comprehensive approach and adherence to strict food safety practices. Some important preventive measures include:

Proper Handling and Storage:

  • Follow good personal hygiene practices, including regular handwashing and wearing appropriate protective clothing.
  • Separate raw and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Store food at proper temperatures to inhibit microbial growth.
  • Cook food to recommended temperatures to ensure thorough cooking.

Regulatory Standards:

  • Adhere to local food safety regulations and guidelines.
  • Implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems.
  • Regularly train and educate food handlers on safe food practices.

Preventing Cross-Contamination Of Food

Pathogens can be passed from one surface or food to the next. This is known as cross-contamination. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take.
The first step is to eliminate tainted food from the business. Nonfood items such as single-use cups, cutlery, and napkins are similarly prohibited. The packaging must be whole and clean.
Items should be rejected if the packing is unclean, water stained, leaky, or discolored. There should be no holes, rips, punctures, or other sorts of damage in the packaging. Check to see if the cans you get are damaged, rusted, or have bulging ends. If you discover symptoms of bugs, always reject the item.
Your boss may have additional rules to follow while getting food.

Preventing Cross-Contamination When Storing Food

Storage is one location where cross-contamination can occur. If you know what to do, it’s not difficult to keep food safe in storage. Follow these instructions.

  • Only store food in approved spaces.
  • Store food and nonfood objects away from walls and at least six inches (15 cm) from the floor.
  • Before storing food, wrap it or cover it. This can prevent pathogens from entering the meal.
  •  NEVER keep food in outdated chemical containers. This might result in chemical pollution.
  • Only keep food in food-safe containers.
  •  If feasible, keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate. If separate storage is not feasible, keep food in the following sequence from top to bottom: ready-to-eat food; seafood; whole cuts of beef and hog; ground meat and groundfish; whole and ground chicken. This ranking is determined by the minimum internal cooking temperature of each dish.

Preventing Cross-Contamination When Prepping Food

When preparing meals, you may work with both raw and cooked foods. If you are not careful, pathogens might be spread from one meal to another. This may make you or your guests ill. Follow these recommendations to be safe.

  • Clean and sanitize workstations, cutting boards, equipment, and utensils.
  • Do not allow ready-to-eat food to come into contact with surfaces that have previously been in contact with raw meat, fish, or poultry.
  • When utilizing the same table, prepare raw meat, fish, and poultry at a separate time from ready-to-eat meals.
  • Between each product, clean and sterilize work surfaces, utensils, and equipment.

Contaminated vegetables cause some foodborne diseases. Produce should be cleaned to keep guests safe.

  • Clean and sterilize the prep sink and work surfaces.
  • Before beginning, clean and sterilize the prep sink and work area.
  • Wash vegetables in water that is slightly warmer than the food.
  • Make careful to separate leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach.
  • Do not combine various things or numerous batches of the same item while soaking or storing vegetables in standing water or cold water.
  • Store sliced melons cut tomatoes, and cut leafy greens in the refrigerator at 41°F (5°C) or below.

Preventing Cross-Contamination in Self-Service Areas

When customers serve themselves, they risk contaminating the meal. It might happen if they replenish unclean dishes or use dirty utensils. It can also happen when kids use their bare hands to pick up food or rest their heads beneath the sneeze barrier while reaching for food. Contamination must be avoided in self-service areas. Biological, chemical, and physical pollutants are all included. Here’s how to protect them.

  • Ensure that food is labeled.
  • Provide individual utensils for each item.
  • Place food behind the sneeze guard. This shields it from pollutants.
  • Do not allow consumers to replenish unclean plates.
  • Do not allow consumers to use soiled utensils.
  • If you notice your customers doing these things, request that they use clean plates and utensils.
  • NEVER offer ice that was previously used to keep food or beverages cool.


what is the main cause of food contamination servsafe

What is the main cause of food contamination Servsafe?

  • Inadequate handwashing.
  • Cross-contamination. storage
  • Cooking temperatures.
  • Contamination of food by animal waste

What are the actions that can contaminate food Servsafe?

Food handlers can contaminate food by doing the following:

  • Cough or sneeze
  • Make touch with a sick individual
  • Touch something that might infect their hands and do not wash them
  • Have diarrhea, vomiting, or jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin).

What are the 6 common causes of food contamination?

Unwashed and filthy cooking utensils are the number one cause of food poisoning at home.

  1. Combining fresh and cooked foods.
  2. Thawing and storing food at dangerously high temperatures (over 5°C).
  3.  Food waste and expired goods.
  4. Consuming water from untreated sources of water.
  5.  Unrestricted food handling.
  6.  Consuming uncooked or contaminated food.

What are the main types of contamination which may affect food?

  • Physical contamination.
  • Biological contamination.
  • Chemical contamination.
  • Allergenic contamination.

Final Words

In conclusion, understandingWhat is the main cause of food contamination ServSafe? is crucial for maintaining food safety standards, as emphasized by ServSafe. The main cause of food contamination can be attributed to numerous factors. Poor personal hygiene, inadequate temperature control, cross-contamination, and improper storage are some key culprits. Negligence in following proper food handling practices can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites, posing serious health risks to consumers. To combat this issue, it is essential for food handlers and establishments to prioritize hygiene, implement proper temperature controls, prevent cross-contamination, and ensure safe storage practices. By addressing these main causes, we can safeguard public health and ensure the provision of safe and wholesome food.