The health-conscious consumer looks for nutrient-packed salad bars, natural foods, rare meat, and raw seafood at meal time but the microbes in fresh foods or in foods processed with minimal heat pose greater health risks than the nutrient loss that occurs in cooking or the chemical additives and pesticide residues that many people fear (Brewer, 1991,p.4).
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Factors that contribute to food poisoning include; holding food at the wrong temperature which is mostly caused by inadequate cooling and inadequate cooking. Other factors can be the use of contaminated equipment when handling food and poor personal hygiene by the food handler.
Food borne illnesses: They are diseases that come from ingesting of contaminated foods. Foods can serve as a vehicle for transporting pathogens and toxic agents of disease. These pathogens are bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites.
The most common food contamination is bacteria inhibition and unlike spoilage microorganisms, pathogens do not produce any off odors, off-flavors, or discoloration making them fatal. Microorganisms grow by increasing in number rather than size (Brewer, 1991, p.2).
Examples of these bacteria are; Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium botulinum: these bacteria produce toxic metabolites that grow in the food before consumption. They cause illnesses known as food poisoning. Salmonella: affects an individual through ingestion of living organisms like raw fish and poultry.
They cause an illness known as food infection. Some illnesses are caused by a combination of the two: Clostridium perfringens grow to high levels in the food, form spores in the digestive tract and release a toxin that causes illness as the spore is released from the cell (Brewer, 1991, p.4).
Other bacteria that cause food poisoning are Clostridium botulinum and T. spiralis. Contamination of food can be prevented by introducing food handling and sanitation procedures. The most appropriate way of cubing food contamination is through critical control points (CCP).
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Critical control points show steps in the preparation procedure that can be prevented. It is important for people preparing a meal to write a step by step list when preparing hazardous food to make it easier to find the potentially critical points and find ways to prevent, reduce and eliminate contamination, all cooks (commercial or at home) need to; practice good personal hygiene, avoid cross contamination between different food items and finally store, cook and cool food appropriately to prevent contamination (Henkel &Brown, 2006, p.287).
The reader can be able to get most information on nutrition from books, magazines and websites. Readers can use different criteria to determine the credibility of information from the different sources. Magazines are popular sources of nutrition information. Professionals have evaluated nutrition-related articles and published magazine ratings.
When the American Dietetic Association conducted a “trends” survey in 2000, it found TV, magazines and newspapers were top information sources for nutrition and health (Robinson, 2005 p.1). Websites are not very reliable as there are billions of Web sites in cyberspace and search for a particular health-related topic may result in hundreds of “hits”.
Therefore, it can be difficult to distinguish trustworthy information from quackery. Sometimes, the URL suffix like “.gov” used by many government agencies or “.edu” used by many educational institutions gives an indication of the reliability of the information (Robinson, 2005 p.2). Readers are supposed to use this information to determine credibility of the nutrition information.
Brewer, S., M. (1991). Food storage, Food spoilage and Food borne illness. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Agriculture website.
Henkel, S., l& Brown, D., R. (2006). Non-commercial food service manager’s handbook: a complete guide for hospitals, nursing homes, military, prisons, schools, and churches, with companion CD-ROM. Ocala, Fla. Atlantic.
Robinson, J., G. (2005). Finding the Truth II: Are popular nutrition and health information sources Reliable? North Dakota State University website.
Information Sources Reliable Are Popular Nutrition?