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Lesson one

Lesson One: C T Archer   www.basicfoodhygene.co.uk




Many people get sick each year from the food they eat. They may have diarrhea, vomiting, an upset stomach, fever, or cramps. They often think they have the flu, but the real problem is foodborne illness caused by bacteria in the food they ate a few hours or several days ago.


Even though the UK and the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, there are still more than two million cases of foodborne illness each year.


Reported cases of foodborne illness are just the tip of the iceberg.


Most foodborne illness can be avoided if food is handled properly. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that during the five year period 1988-1992, the most commonly reported food preparation practice that contributed to foodborne disease was improper holding temperatures, followed by poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, and food from an unsafe source, as shown on this pie chart.

What is foodborne illness?

A foodborne illness is a disease that is transmitted to humans by food. Recent developments in diagnosing and tracking reported illnesses have helped the public become more aware that certain types of illness may be related to the food they ate prior to becoming sick.



 The U.K and the U.S. Public Health Service www.basicgfoodhygiene.co.uk classifies moist, high-protein, and/or low acid foods as potentially hazardous. High protein foods consist, in whole or in part, of milk or milk products, shell eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacea (shrimp, lobster, crab). Baked or boiled potatoes, tofu and other soy protein foods, plant foods that have been heat-treated, and raw seed sprouts (such as alfalfa or bean sprouts) also pose a hazard. These foods can support rapid growth of infectious or disease-causing microorganisms


Who is at risk?

Our immune system helps fight infection, but the immune systems of very young children, pregnant women, and the elderly, and chronically ill people are at greatest risk to develop foodborne infections.

Who is at risk?

Our immune system helps fight infection, but the immune systems of very young children, pregnant women, and the elderly, and chronically ill people are at greatest risk to develop foodborne infections..


Infants and children, in particular, produce less acid in their stomachs, making it easier for them to get sick.

For pregnant women, the fetus is at risk because it does not have a fully developed immune system.

lesson3 lesson4

For elderly individuals, poor nutrition, lack of protein in the diet, and poor blood circulation may result in a weakened immune system.


Those with immuno-compromised systems, such as diabetics, cancer patients, AIDS patients, and people on antibiotics are at greater risk.

How does food become hazardous?

Food becomes hazardous by contamination. Contamination is the unintended presence of harmful substances or microorganisms in food. Food can become contaminated from chemical, physical or biological sources.


Chemical hazards: Chemical hazards include substances such as cleaning solutions and sanitizers.


Physical hazards: Physical hazards are foreign particles, like glass or metal.


Biological hazards: Biological hazards come mainly from microorganisms.

What is Cross-contamination?

Cross-contamination is the transportation of harmful substances to food by:

Hands that touch raw foods, such as chicken, then touch food that will not be cooked, like salad ingredients.

Surfaces, like cutting boards or cleaning cloths, that touch raw foods, are not cleaned and sanitized, then touch ready-to-eat food.

Raw or contaminated foods that touch or drip fluids on cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Microorganisms are everywhere. You may not see, taste, or smell them, but they hide on your body, in the air, on kitchen counters and utensils, and in food. The main microorganisms are viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria


Viruses are the tiniest, and probably the simplest, form of life. They are not able to reproduce outside a living cell. Once they enter a cell, they force it to make more viruses.


Some viruses are extremely resistant to heat and cold. They don’t need potentially hazardous food to survive, and once in the food, they don’t multiply. The food is mainly a transportation device to get from one host to another.

Why are microorganisms important?

Parasites need to live on or in a host to survive. Examples of parasites that may contaminate food are trichinella spiralis (trichinosis) that affects pork, and anisakis roundworm, that affects fish.


Fungi can be microscopic or as big as a giant mushroom. Fungi are found in the air, soil, plants, animals, water, and some food. Molds and yeast are fungi.


What is the greatest threat to food safety?

Of all the microorganisms, bacteria are the greatest threat to food safety. Bacteria are single-celled, living organisms that can grow quickly at favorable temperatures. Some bacteria are useful. We use them to make foods like cheese, buttermilk, sauerkraut, pickles, and yogurt. Other bacteria are infectious disease-causing agents called pathogens that use the nutrients found in potentially hazardous foods to multiply.