Microbiological contamination of food refers to the unwanted presence of pathogenic microorganisms in food. Learn how to avoid it and control it.
Which one of the following food contaminations is best prevented by cooking to safe temperatures?
Cooking is a very effective way to make food safe for consumption. It has been used since ancient times to preserve ...
Cooking is a very effective way to make food safe for consumption. It has been used since ancient times to preserve food and improve its eating characteristics.
- Raw foods naturally have foodborne microorganisms that may pathogenic.
- Cooking to safe temperatures is a critical food handling practice to keep foods safe.
- Among food contaminations like botulism, Acidophilus, and E. coli the latter choice is most likely prevented by cooking to safe temperatures in food service.
Cooking produces different flavors and textures that are appealing to consumers. In addition, the process inactivates most food safety hazards on raw materials. Cooking through heat application affects the food and potentially living microorganisms within it. To become effective, the internal temperature of food must reach a certain level where most pathogens are vulnerable. Food handlers must know which one of the following food contaminations is best preceded by cooking to safe temperatures.
The food industry has seen several foodborne outbreaks related to undercooking. In fact, one of the most significant foodborne illness outbreaks ever recorded in the US is related to an undercooked beef patty that led to getting around 732 people sick. Since then, the importance of properly cooking foods has been significantly emphasized to preserve control over safety.
This article discusses some of the significant food contaminations that can be prevented when you cook foods to safe temperatures.
Which one of the following food contaminations is best prevented by cooking to safe temperatures?
Food contaminations can be biological, physical, or chemical in nature. Among these types of food contamination, cooking is a proven effective means of preventing biological contamination from causing foodborne illnesses.
Biological contaminations mostly consist of food bacteria, viruses, molds, yeasts, and other known pathogens. Several harmful bacteria are susceptible to elevated temperatures used for cooking. In fact, some standards for targeting internal temperature on foods are based on the optimal temperature to kill a particular bacteria.
Despite this, some foodborne pathogens are less vulnerable to heat. This means that other conditions such as reduced moisture level, acidic environment, or high salt concentrations would be required to kill them.
In this article, we talk about which food contamination among Escherichia coli, Clostridium botulinum, and acidophilus is most likely to be prevented by cooking to safe temperatures in a food service environment.
Botulism is a known severe illness caused by the bacterial toxin produced by the harmful bacteria Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria produces the deadly toxin botulin, which can inflict botulism on humans. Botulism is a serious illness that can lead to death or serious impairment when left untreated.
The causative bacteria for botulism is a known anaerobe. This means that it cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. C. botulinum is a known serious contaminant of ready-to-eat canned foods where the conditions inside the can have no oxygen, and the products are nowhere near the acidic spectrum. This bacteria cannot grow on acidic foods.
Although very dangerous, C. botulinum can be easily inactivated by cooking to a minimum temperature of 158°F (70°C) for 2 minutes, but not its spores and toxin. The World Health Organization recommends that botulin be killed by cooking to 185°F (85°C) for 5 minutes or longer, whereas the spores can only be killed through conditions for sterilization.
With this information at hand, botulism is unlikely the answer to our main question that implied for food service.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a lactic acid-producing bacteria commonly found in the intestinal microbiota. This bacteria poses a very low-risk factor for food service. In fact, it is considered a non-pathogenic bacteria.
Acidophilus is commonly considered probiotics or microorganisms that act as beneficial agents to humans. Although not considered dangerous bacteria, acidophilus can spoil foods if cross - contamination occurs.
The growth of bacteria can be easily prevented with minimal cooking to a temperature of 115°F (46°C)
Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Perhaps the best answer to the question "Which one of the following food contaminations is best prevented by cooking to safe temperatures?" is the E. coli bacteria. This dangerous bacterial is commonly found in the intestinal tract of humans and their feces. E. coli is a common contaminant of water and is known to cause traveler's diarrhea.
As a known tap water contaminant, this bacteria can easily work its way into raw foods, including ground meat and raw shellfish, and cause foodborne diseases. Additionally, it can be transmitted on kitchen surfaces when food handlers do not practice proper food hygiene.
Certain strains of E. coli have been associated with foodborne illness outbreaks over the past. As previously mentioned, the most prominent case is the Jack-in-the-Box incident that afflicted around 700 customers. In this case, burger patties were found to have been undercooked at 140°F (60°C). This was considered non-compliance with the established cooking temperatures of beef in Washington state, which was 155°F (68°C).
There are many identified types of E. coli, most of which are pathogenic or can cause food poisoning, whereas some can even produce natural toxins. Although considered dangerous, E. coli can be killed easily using the correct cooking temperature.
Currently, the FDA Food Code suggests restaurants cook ground beef such as in patties to a minimum internal temperature of 155°F (68°C). For consumers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture suggest cooking beef at 160°F (71°C). These cooking temperatures can kill E. coli bacteria and ensure the safety of consumers.
As such, among the three discussed microorganisms, E. coli is best prevented by cooking at safe temperatures.
Safety operations that can help prevent E. coli contamination
In addition to cooking, E. coli can also be prevented through other food safety operations. Since this bacteria is commonly transmitted through contaminated water, cross - contamination can easily occur.
To help prevent the spread of this bacteria in your kitchen through cross - contamination, consider the following simple steps:
- Ensure a safe source of water.
- Never use foods from unapproved sources.
- Always separate deli meats from other ingredients such as raw milk in the grocery shopping cart.
- Store raw meats in cold temperatures if they will be used much later.
- Use proper sanitizers such as diluted bleach or very hot water to sanitize food contact surfaces before and after preparing raw meat. Do not use cloth towels to dry surfaces.
- Always separate cooked meat from raw ingredients.
- Keep high-risk foods away from the danger zone temperature range. Cool foods immediately if they will not be served.
- Follow the proper reheat step for reheating cool leftovers.
- Place raw meats in sealable containers before storing them under freezer temperatures.
- Do not let food handlers prepare foods with unclean hands. Use disposable gloves or routinely wash hands with warm, soapy water.
Why is cooking food important?
Cooking food items improves the eating quality of meat and deactivates any pathogens that may be on the raw ingredients. Any fresh food item innately has microorganisms as a result of exposure to its surrounding. Cooking ensures that any harmful bacteria are removed before customers consume the food.
Safety of foods can only be achieved by using fresh foods and cooking foods to the correct temperature and cooking times. A food handler must have a sufficient heat source and a properly calibrated food thermometer for accurate temperature range readings.
Every common food, such as raw meat and fresh fruit, is commonly associated with a particular pathogen. Each pathogen requires different cooking temperatures for inactivation. As such, foods may have different recommended internal cooking temperatures. When not reached, the food can become grounds for bacteria growth and cause outbreaks of food poisoning.
Properly cooked foods for service are generally safer to eat than undercooked food items. Cooking foods to the correct temperature must always be part of the food safety plans of food businesses for safer food service.
Depending on the quality of the received materials, foods with a low level of bacteria on them can be made safe with proper cooking. On the contrary, cooking the foods may be less effective if foods were delivered under improper conditions such as inadequate holding temperature.
To ensure that cooking will be effective enough to make your food safe, use a monitoring form such as our Receiving Chilled Goods log. This form can help food handlers monitor whether your food supply is fresh and delivered under correct conditions or not.
Receiving Chilled Goods monitoring log from FoodDocs
Which one of the following food contaminations is usually associated with undercooked chicken?
As mentioned, different perishable food products are associated with particular pathogens. For example, undercooked chicken or raw poultry is associated with Salmonellosis, caused by Salmonella.
This pathogen is a common cause of foodborne illness as a result of cross-contamination or transfer of pathogens to food in kitchens. Proper food handling practices, including segregating the preparation of raw and ready-to-eat foods, using separate cutting boards, frequent sanitation, and cooking to the correct temperature, can help prevent any illness from this pathogen.
Chicken or any raw poultry and related products such as egg dishes must be cooked to a minimum proper temperature of 165ºF (74ºF). Undercooking poultry will encourage the survival of pathogens and bacterial growth on ready-to-eat food with poultry.
What is the easiest way to recognize food contaminated with spoilage bacteria?
There is no absolute way to determine if cooked or ready-to-eat foods are contaminated by spoilage bacteria until they produce changes in the food. Given enough time to grow, spoilage bacteria can cause changes in the odor of your food. Bad odor is a reliable indicator of spoilage.
Additionally, evident changes such as the growth of spots on food or discoloration may indicate spoilage. The rate of changes produced in the food will depend on the levels of pathogens in the food.
Consuming spoiled foods may cause signs of illness such as an upset stomach, abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. As such, it is important to always follow proper cooking temperatures and normal cooking time to ensure that foods will not easily spoil.
Why is it important to cook your food to the proper temperatures?
Cooking foods to the proper temperatures ensures that the potentially residing pathogens on the food are inactivated. Raw food materials are constantly exposed to environmental factors at any stage of food production, including preparation, transport, food storage, and use in food establishments. As such, contamination of pathogens in food and bacterial growth is very common.
Fresh foods are great grounds for bacteria to grow. Contact with food without proper precautions may further spread pathogens on other batches of food or clean food contact surfaces.
Improper handling of foods during preparation, lack of personal hygiene, and inadequate cooking may increase the risk of cross-contamination in a food establishment and further increase the risk of foodborne illness in consumers. This is especially true for people with poor health and weak immune systems. High-risk customers include pregnant women, children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with symptoms of immune system deficiencies.
To keep food safe, proper cooking at safe temperatures is required. This method ensures that the most significant pathogens are inactivated and that your establishment will only serve safe food. Proper cooking also includes allowing the food to rest after removing from direct heat to allow heat transfer to thoroughly cook the food.
To keep ready-to-eat foods safe after cooking times, make sure to keep them out of the temperature danger zone during storage. If food handlers cooked foods in advance of mealtime, apply proper cooling on foods and store them in shallow containers before storing them under refrigerator temperature. Bacterial contamination of foods prepared correctly is still possible.
Monitoring food temperature with FoodDocs
Cooking is a very common operation in the food business. It is essential to perform this operation correctly to keep food safe. The recommended internal temperature must always be achieved and properly monitored to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and your business from complaints.
Managers are responsible for training kitchen staff and other food employees on the steps to properly measure temperature with a food thermometer and monitor temperature readings. In addition to proper cooking, food handlers must also be aware of the proper food standards for receiving and holding foods.
With so much at hand, there are moments when food handlers will not be able to remember every food safety task. This scenario may lead to significant problems for your food business. At FoodDocs, we have developed a significant digital solution for this problem. With our digital Food Safety Management System, you can help your team always remember when and how to record the cooking temperature.
Our digital solution can help you make your operations more efficient with the following features and benefits:
- You can get automatically generated digital monitoring forms such as cooking temperature and receiving chilled goods logs to help your team record information more efficiently. These monitoring logs are equipped with an auto-fill feature that prefills the logs based on previously logged data. With this feature, employees would only have to verify the information, and your monitoring practices can become more accurate.
Cooking Temperature Log from FoodDocs
- These generated digital logs feature detailed instructions on performing and monitoring the tasks. With these instructions, you can facilitate food safety training, simplify onboarding, and guide your teams remotely with food safety operations.
- Using our mobile application, you can also get a smart notification feature that can help remind food handlers when to check the temperature. This notification feature ensures that every food safety task is done on time.
In addition to features that will help your team, our digital solution also includes systems that can help managers improve food safety operations management.
- Setting up our digital Food Safety Management System only takes an average of 15 minutes. All you need to do is answer a few basic questions, and our artificial intelligence-powered system can generate the digital FSMS for you.
- Our digital solution comes with a real-time dashboard that gives you an overview of your daily operations. This dashboard can help you save 20% of your time in managing your business. You can easily locate areas with problems that need more attention for more efficient troubleshooting.
- You can also get digital cloud storage where you can store, organize, and access all digital files in one secure location.
With our digital solution, you can ensure that your food business will always comply with food safety standards. We can help you improve the efficiency of your operations and consistently serve safe food to your loyal customers.
At FoodDocs, we understand how important every food safety task is to hold your food business together. Using our digital solution, you can always be prepared for inspections from an environmental health officer, government food inspector, or the meticulous eyes of consumers.
If you want to experience our services firsthand, you can sign up for our free, 14-day trial. Experience effortless food safety compliance with our digital solution now.