Thousands of types of bacteria are naturally present in our
environment. Not all bacteria cause disease in humans (for
example, some bacteria are used beneficially in making
cheese and yogurt). However, the prime causes of food-borne
illness include parasites, viruses, and bacteria such as:
1. E. coli O157:H7
2. Campylobacter jejuni
4. Staphylococcus aureus
5. Listeria monocytogenes
6. Clostridium perfringens
7. Vibrio parahaemolyticus
8. Vibrio vulnificus
9. Hepatitis A virus, and
10. Norwalk and Norwalk-like virus
Bacteria that cause disease are called pathogens. These
organisms can become unwelcome guests at the dinner table.
When certain pathogens enter the food supply, they can cause
food-borne illness. They're in a wide range of foods,
including meat, milk and other dairy products, spices,
chocolate, seafood, and even water. Millions of cases of
food-borne illness occur each year.
Most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented. Careless
food handling sets the stage for the growth of disease-
causing "bugs." For example, hot or cold foods left standing
too long at room temperature provide an ideal climate for
bacteria to grow. Proper cooking or processing of food
Fresh does not always mean safe. The organisms that cause
food poisoning aren't the ones that cause spoilage. Wax
often coats certain kinds of produce, such as apples and
cucumbers, and may trap pesticides. To remove the wax, wash
with very diluted dish detergent and a soft scrub brush, or
peel (the best nutrients are often in the peel, however).
Foods may be cross contaminated when cutting boards and
kitchen tools that have been used to prepare a contaminated
food, such as raw chicken, aren't cleaned before being used
for another food, such as vegetables.
How Bacteria Get In Food
Bacteria may be present on products when you buy them.
Plastic-wrapped boneless chicken and ground meat, for
example, were once part of live chicken or cattle. Raw meat,
poultry, seafood, and eggs aren't sterile. Neither is fresh
produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons.
Foods, including safely cooked, ready-to-eat foods, can
become cross contaminated with bacteria transferred from raw
products, meat juices or other contaminated products, or
from food handlers with poor personal hygiene.
Unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices and ciders, foods
made with raw or undercooked eggs, chicken, tuna, potato and
macaroni salads, and cream-filled pastries harboring these
pathogens have also been implicated in food-borne illnesses,
as has fresh produce.
Poultry is the food most often contaminated with disease-
causing organisms. It's been estimated that 60 percent or
more of raw poultry sold at retail probably carries some
Bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus,
Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella have been found in
raw seafood. Oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and cockles
may be contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
If you have a health problem, especially one that may have
impaired your immune system, don't eat raw shellfish and use
only pasteurized milk and cheese, and pasteurized or
concentrated ciders and juices.
Keep It Clean
The cardinal rule of safe food preparation in the home is:
Keep everything clean.
The cleanliness rule applies to the areas where food is
prepared and, most importantly, to the cook. Wash hands with
warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before starting
to prepare a meal and after handling raw meat or poultry.
Cover long hair with a net or scarf, and be sure that any
open sores or cuts on the hands are completely covered. If
the sore or cut is infected, stay out of the kitchen.
Keep your work area clean and uncluttered. Be sure to wash
the countertops with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine
bleach to about 1 quart of water or with a commercial
kitchen-cleaning agent diluted according to product
directions. They're the most effective at getting rid of
Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because,
when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promote
their growth. Wash dishcloths and sponges weekly in the
washing machine in hot water.
While you're at it, sanitize the kitchen sink drain
periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of one
teaspoon bleach to one quart of water or a commercial
cleaning agent. Food particles get trapped in the drain and
disposal and, along with moistness, create an ideal
environment for bacterial growth.
Use smooth cutting boards made of hard maple or plastic and
free of cracks and crevices. Avoid boards made of soft,
porous materials. Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap,
and a scrub brush. Then, sanitize them in an automatic
dishwasher or by rinsing with a solution of 1 teaspoon
chlorine bleach to about 1 quart of water.
Always wash and sanitize cutting boards after using them for
raw foods, such as seafood or chicken, and before using them
for other foods. Consider using one cutting board only for
foods that will be cooked, such as raw fish, and another
only for ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, fresh fruit, and
cooked fish. Visit The Cutting Board Factory for a great
selection of food-safe cutting boards.
Always use clean utensils and wash them between cutting
Wash the lids of canned foods before opening to keep dirt
from getting into the food. Also, clean the blade of the can
opener after each use. Food processors and meat grinders
should be taken apart and cleaned as soon as possible after
Don't put cooked meat on an unwashed plate or platter that
has held raw meat.
Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly, rinsing in warm
water. Don't use soap or other detergents. If necessary (and
appropriate) use a small scrub brush to remove surface dirt.
Keep your kitchen clean and bacteria-free. Clean kitchen
surfaces with hot soapy water using antibacterial sponges
The sponges themselves should be bacteria-free. Microwave
them for about a minute to keep them clean and dry.
Keep benches, cutting boards, knives, pans or other utensils
My Home-Based Business Advisor
Copyright ? by Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.
About The Author
Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning". In addition, he writes from his own experiences in trying to start his own home-based business. To benefit from his success, visit My Home-Based Business Advisor - Helping YOUR Home Business Start and Succeed for free help for YOUR home business, including ideas, startup, and expansion advice.