Food Safety Hazards

food safety hazards
Food Safety Hazards


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What is a food safety hazard?

A food safety hazard is an agent that can potentially harm consumers’ health. These hazards arise when food comes into contact with dangerous agents, leading to food contamination. The main food safety hazards until recently were biological, chemical, and physical related hazards. Since there are hazards related to the nature and composition of a product, allergens were added as the fourth category.

 These hazards can enter the food supply chain at all stages, starting from harvesting and continuing through formulation and processing, packaging and labeling, transportation, storage,  preparation, and serving.

What are the 4 types of Food Hazards?

Biological Hazards in Food

Biological hazards occur when hazardous or pathogenic microorganisms and their metabolic products, toxins are introduced to food and thus pose a food safety concern to consumers. Biological hazards include bacteria, viruses, and parasites of public health significance.

Biological hazards in food can originate from environmental sources like soil bacteria and agricultural run-off, as well as from improper sanitation practices and cross-contamination during transportation, handling, processing, and storage. The growth and impact of microorganisms in food are influenced by factors such as the food’s characteristics, the packaging conditions, and the storage environment.

Chemical Hazards on Food

Chemical hazards in food refer to the presence of harmful substances or chemicals that can pose risks to human health when consumed. These hazards can arise from various sources, including agricultural practices, food processing and manufacturing, packaging materials, and environmental contaminants. 

Physical Hazards in Food

Physical hazards in food can be categorized as either foreign materials that are accidentally introduced during production or naturally occurring objects that can pose a risk to consumers. These hazards can contaminate food products at any point during the production process. It is essential for food processors to implement appropriate measures to prevent physical hazards from occurring in food.

Allergens in Food

The last category is allergens. Food allergies are abnormal responses to food. The immune system is involved as a defense mechanism that identifies the specific food as an invader or allergen. Then the immune system reacts to the invader by producing immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. The type of IgE produced depends on the type of allergen. A food allergy can cause life-threatening reactions by eating, touching, or inhaling even microscopic amounts of food.

Depending on the country you are in, more or less allergens have been identified as majors.



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Government of Canada, Chapter 4: Food Safety Hazards

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Food Standards Agency, Government of UK, Allergen guidance for food businesses

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