Food safety refers to handling, preparing, and storing food in a way to reduce the risk of individuals becoming sick. The first case of foodborne illness in the United States was proposed by doctors from The University of Maryland. “They believed Alexander the Great passed away in 323 B.C. from a case of typhoid fever when his army stopped to rest. Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella Typhi which can be contaminated by food or water.” (Jarvie, 2014) This theory can never be proven it has most likely affected people all throughout history. Scientists didn’t have a clear understanding of bacteria and diseases until the end of the nineteenth century. The history of food safety is the source of all the discoveries we have today. Cooking was seen as a method of making food safer. The Chinese believed anything boiled or cooked cannot be poisonous. The practice of tea later came about because it required using hot water, which made it safer than using contaminated water. Much of the information about pathogens and foodborne illness is built of discoveries from over three centuries ago.
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The values of food safety are geared towards the prevention of contaminated food. Food that isn’t properly managed and cooked can spread pathogens which can later cause illnesses and even death. In well developed countries there are strict protocols for food preparation as opposed to under developed countries where there aren’t any. There are five key principals of food hygiene according to the World Health Organization. They are too prevent pathogens from spreading to people, pets, and pests. Separate raw and cooked foods to avoid contamination. Cook foods at the correct amount of time and temperature. Store foods at the proper temperature. Lastly, use safe water and materials.
Food safety affects anyone who eats or handles it. There are numerous amounts of people who have taken the necessary precautions before everyone else eats their food. Individuals such as farmers, federal government officials, scientist and more. Symptoms associated with foodborne illness are associated with the flu such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Symptoms normally disappear within a few days. In some of the most severe cases someone has passed due to a foodborne illness. “Current estimates of foodborne illness in the United States are 76 million cases, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,194 deaths from this pathogen per year. “ (Odle, 2008)
Food contamination is such a serious topic since it can affect the food during storage, packaging, production, cooking and more. The contamination of food can spread in various ways. There is physical contamination, chemical, biological, and cross contamination of food. Physical contamination involves an actual thing contaminating the food. Most physical contamination’s you can see and aren’t apart of the food. That’s why when working around food it’s good to take precautions such as wearing gloves and a hairnet when handling others food. Chemical contamination occurs when different chemicals come in contact with the food. Therefore, everyone should take precautions when storing food and make sure it’s not near cleaning chemicals or pest control products. Also, the pesticides on fruits and vegetables can cause a chemical contamination so be sure to wax them off before eating. Biological contamination occurs when food is contaminated with bacteria and causes spoilage and poisoning. Food poisoning is normally when harmful pathogens spread to food and are consumed. “Bacteria are small microorganisms that split and multiply very quickly. In conditions ideal for bacterial growth, one single-cell bacteria can split so many times that in just seven hours it has multiplied into two million. “(Santacruz, 2016). Cross contamination is the last of them all. It occurs when bacteria is passed on from one thing to another such as utensils, clothing, personal hygiene and more can cause cross-contamination.
Bacteria usually multiplies very quickly due to many different reasons. The temperature plays a major role. Bacteria thrives at warm temperatures. Temperatures ranging from 40 and 140F is known as food danger zone. Air is also another component. Most bacteria needs oxygen to grow. Moisture is required for bacteria to absorb food. So to keep these components from creating bacteria start by not letting anything that might have bacteria on it touch the food. Stop it from growing by taking away its main components. (Massey, 2018)
Years ago the outbreak of foodborne illness were very small and local. They could be found coming from local events, weddings, church dinners and many different gatherings where there was a large group of people eating together. Today’s food is created in many different ways compared to decades prior. Everything was created and sold local. Now food is being created on a larger scale. Products created in one location are now being shipped off everywhere to different parts of the world. A crisis occurred in 1994. Ice cream created at a facility in Minnesota affected and estimate 224,000 people with salmonella enteritis’s. In 1988 35million pounds of hot dogs created by Sara Lee were recalled due to them being contaminated by Listeria. Even farm raised animals add to the list of food safety problems. Large numbers of animals are packed together in tiny spaces causing them to spread diseases from one animal to another. A long time ago if an animal was sick they would be separated from everyone else. Now with the animal contact being so close the disease can spread tremendously throughout the group.
Recent food recalls on ground beef, eggs, ground turkey, spinach and peanut butter have caused thousands of illnesses and a lot of media attention. Even with all this these companies are not changing the way the food is created or distributed. Bacteria, parasites, and viruses are the most common food-related illnesses. In 2009 there was salmonella found in peanut butter. Salmonella is the most common thing to be discovered in food. This bacteria has been responsible for 1.4 million causes of illness and 400 deaths yearly. E. coli is another common bacteria. It comes from the intestinal tract of different animals waste. It originally was only in beef products but is now being found in fruits and vegetables. Producers who want to reduce cost use many different sources of beef while producing the ground beef. By following this process they add some of the cheapest beef that more than likely came in contact with fences containing E. coli.
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When it comes to food there are four kinds of bacteria. First there is undesirable bacteria which is responsible for the spoilage of food. It has a sour odor and usually some discoloration. Then there is beneficial bacteria which is used to make cheese and yogurt. It lives in our body to fight harmful bacteria. There is harmless bacteria which is some that neither helps nor harms us. Harmless bacteria has a purpose but not relating to food safety. Lastly, there is Illness causing bacteria or pathogens. This bacteria causes many of the foodborne illnesses. They don’t usually leave a lingering order or taste in food. Causing it impossible to see if the food is contaminated.
Different government agencies take on the role of Food Safety in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who are responsible for the oversight of all imported meat and poultry. They also inspect animals before and after they are slaughtered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are responsible for over 80 percent of the food we eat. They are responsible for ensuring safety for production and new products. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigates and works to track down different cases of foodborne outbreaks. Local and state governments work with the Federal to implement safety standards for food created within the state border. State health Boards also identify outbreaks and the food making people ill.
For over 100 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has looked after the safety of Americans by improving the safety of the food supply. Now one of the best countries known for food safety is the United States. By America being so huge this claim is a relative one due to the number of incidents occurred over the years. The Food Safety Act 1990 covers everything such as delivering, selling, preparing, labeling, and storing. With this Act it is illegal to see any kind of food that doesn’t meet these safety requirements. There are Environmental Health Officers responsible for checking hygiene practices and the different qualities of food. School kitchens are covered under this legislation. This Act is covered for food prepared at home.
- Javie, Michelle, October 6, 2014, Part 1: History of Food Safety in the U. S., Copyright © 2018, Marler Clark, https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/10/history-of-food-safety-in-the-u-s-part-1/
- Santacruz, Sally, March 14, 2016, Food Safety and the Different Types of Food Contamination, Copyright 2018 © Australian Institute of Food Safety
- Olde, Teresa G, 2003, FOOD SAFETY, © 2016 Encyclopedia, https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/anatomy-and-physiology/anatomy-and-physiology/food-safety
- Massey, Richard, 2018, Bacteria and Food-Borne Diseases, © 2018 Street directory, https://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/3207/food_and_drink/bacteria_and_food_borne_diseases.html
- Schlosser, Eric, Oct. 16, 2018, The Man Who Pioneered Food Safety, © 2018 The New York Times Company, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/books/review/poison-squad-deborah-blum.html
- Galvin, Mary, November 2014, Why Food Safety Matters, © 1995-2018 The Nemours Foundation, https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/food-safety.html
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