Food borne diseases or also known as foods poisoning, can be caused by a variety of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Food borne disease is caused by consume contaminated food and beverages. A harmful toxins or chemicals present in food also may cause food borne disease.
We must often ask why and how food can be contaminated by bacteria which at the end can cause diseases called food borne diseases. Let see the characteristic of foods and bacteria related with food borne diseases.
Bacteria need 6 conditions to be able to survive and proliferate. The needed conditions are source of food, level of acidity, temperature, time, oxygen and moisture, are abbreviated to F A T T O M.
Bacteria need food to grow. Like the others life organisms they need food to support their growing up. High protein or carbohydrate contents as contained in the meat, fish, seafood products, cooked rise, peas and potatoes are loved by bacteria. These foods are considered potentially hazardous foods. This condition will facilitate their proliferation.
It has been known that dangerous bacteria in foods can proliferate in food with acidity between (pH) 4.6 – 7. pH is the symbol for the degree of acidity or alkalinity (base) of substances, measure on scale 0 to 14.0. Foods with a pH below 7.0 are acidic, pH above 7.0 is alkaline. Most of bacteria will not grow at pH level below 4.6.
The bacteria can proliferate faster in temperatures between >41oF – 160oF (5oC – 60oC). But the bacteria prefer the temperature that is equivalent with the human temperature i.e. 98.6oF (37oC). The longer that bacteria are allowed to sit in a warm, moist environment, the quicker the bacteria will grow up and multiply. You must restrict the time that these foods stay in the danger zone to two hours or less.
Time and temperature are two most important factors that greatly influence bacteria growth in food. Microorganisms like a warm environment preferably around room temperature. In an ideal condition bacteria will proliferate every 15-30 minutes. Certain bacteria can even grow every 10 minutes. Research has identified this as a dangerous temperature zone. It is very necessary to create a condition that makes impossible for bacteria to grow or hinders bacteria growth. Bacteria only need 4 hours to proliferate to reach a number that can diseases in people who consume it.
Certain types of bacteria need oxygen to survive, they are aerobic; but there are also some types of bacteria that can survive without oxygen, they are anaerobic. These two conditions can occur in food. Bacteria that can survive without oxygen can live in packed foods or vacuum packed such as canned foods, or in foods stocked in large quantity.
Research has shown that disease-causing bacteria can grow in foods if the water activity in the foods is greater than point 85 (.85). Microorganisms love a nice moist environment. Meat, produce and soft cheeses have more water content allowing any bacteria, viruses or molds present to multiply quickly.