What Are Some Common Causes of Food Contamination?

Common causes of food contamination include bacteria, viruses and parasites entering the production process during the growing, harvesting, processing, shipping or preparation phase. Foods that are especially susceptible to harmful contamination include raw and ready-to-eat foods, such as produce, that do not get cooked before consumption.

E. coli is one of the most common contaminants and is the result of undercooked beef that has been contaminated with feces during its slaughter. Cross-contamination of food with salmonella is common in kitchens where cooks handle raw meat and poultry using tools or unwashed hands that are also handling cooked or ready-to-eat foods, leading to food poisoning for the consumer.