How to Prevent Biological, Chemical and Physical Food Hazards in Homemade Dog Food
Food-borne infection affects about 23.9 million United State residents annually. Pets are susceptible to this infection as well.
Food-borne disease is resulted from eating contaminated food. Contaminated food contains harmful stuffs not initially present in it. So what are the stuffs that make your food become poison?
What are the 4 Types of Food Hazards
Food hazard is any substance in food that can cause disease or harm. Food hazards are classified into four categories:
- Chemical hazards
- Biological hazards
- Physical hazards
Some illnesses are caused by substances that are natural components of the foods other than contaminants. These could be plant toxins like the chemicals in poisonous mushrooms and specific natural food components that cause some people and pet allergies.
Chemical Hazards in Food
Chemical hazards are caused when inappropriate, flawed, substandard kitchen equipment are used for food preparation and cooking. With the exception of lead, all other common chemical food poisoning manifest within 30 minutes of intake of affected food. Lead poison takes months to start showing symptoms.
To prevent chemical food poisoning use right kitchen equipment for appropriate cooking process. Make sure you study the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of your cooking utensils and equipment. MSDS is a manual that manufacturer attached to an item stating its safe usage.
The following are materials common kitchen equipment and utensils are made with and their appropriate usages:
1. Antimony: is brittle metallic chemical element and toxic. It exist in metallic and nonmetallic forms. Antimony food poisoning is caused by storing or cooking acid foods in chipped cracked gray enamelware.
2. Cadmium: is a soft malleable toxic silvery-white metallic element that can easily be shaped. It is used to coast metals, mainly steel or iron. Cadmium food poisoning is caused by cadmium-plated ice cube containers or trays. Cadmium and solutions of its derivatives are very toxic. The cumulative effects of its poisoning is similar to those of mercury poisoning.
3. Cyanide: is a compound containing carbon and nitrogen. Cyanide food poisoning is caused by kitchen equipment made with silver polish containing cyanide.
4. Lead: is a dense, bluish-gray metallic element. Lead food poison is caused by lead water pipes, solder containing lead, or utensils containing lead.
5. Copper: is a malleable, reddish brown metallic element that is a good conductor of electricity and heat. It is used in coatings and alloys. Food poison by copper is caused by corroded copper utensils, acid foods cooked in unlined copper utensils, or carbonated beverages in contact with copper tubing.
6. Zinc: is a bluish white metallic element. It is used as a protective corrosion-resistant coating for other metals, mainly steel and iron. Zinc food poison is caused by cooking foods in zinc-plated (galvanized) utensils.
Physical Hazards in Food
Physical hazards is contamination of food with physical pieces of item that may not be poisonous but may cause harm. Such items include:
- Metal splinters from an unsafely opened can.
- Pieces of glass from a broken container.
- Stones from poorly sorted grains like dried beans.
- Particles of Soil from poorly washed vegetables.
- Insects or insect parts.
- Hair from you or any other person.
Proper food handling, personal hygiene and buying from certified food purveyor are necessary to avoid physical hazards.
Biological Hazards in Food
Biological hazards occur when food is contaminated by micro-organisms. Micro-organism is a very tiny organism that is not visible by naked eyes. Disease-causing micro-organism is called pathogen.
Biological hazard is the most dangerous because food contaminated by pathogen will still be looking and tasting good.
Food-borne disease are caused by these types of microorganisms:
Most food-borne diseases are caused by bacteria and measures taken to protect food from bacteria also help prevent the other three kinds of microorganisms.
Conditions that encourage the growth of these micro-organisms are:
1. Temperature – Pathogens flourish best at warm temperature. Temperature from 40°F (4°C) to 140°F (60°C) advance the growth of disease-causing bacteria. This temperature range is called the Food Danger Zone.
2. Moisture – Pathogens require water to take in food. Dry foods do not support bacterial growth. Well salted and food with high sugar content are somewhat safe. This is because salt and sugar weaken bacteria to use the moisture.
3. Acidity or Alkalinity – Disease-causing bacteria grow well in a neutral environment. Neutral medium is neither acidic nor alkaline. The acidity or alkalinity of a material is measured by a scale called pH. Completely strong acid has pH of 0 and completely strong alkaline has pH of 14. A pure water is neutral and has a pH of 7.
4. Oxygen – Aerobic bacteria require oxygen to grow. Anaerobic bacteria grow only in the absence of air. Canned foods are at the risk of anaerobic bacteria. Facultative bacteria grow in the presence or absence of air. Most bacteria in food that cause disease are facultative.
5. Time – Bacteria need time to firstly adjust to their new environment before flourishing whenever they are newly introduced. This time is called the lag phase. Lag phase is usually about 1 hour if other conditions are favorable. This delay in time makes it possible for us to have foods safe at normal room temperature for short periods before eating or processing them.
Temperature is the only condition we have highest control.
Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHFs)
Foods that are good mediums for the growth of disease-causing micro-organisms are called potentially hazardous foods. They include: fish, meats, dairy products, poultry, eggs, and some grains and vegetables. These foods are also called Temperature/Time Control for Safety TCS foods.
- Food derived from or food containing products animals. These include meat, dairy products, fish, poultry, shellfish and eggs.
- Raw seed buds.
- Cooked or parboiled foods derived from plants. These includes cooked vegetables, cooked pasta, cooked rice, and tofu.
- Sliced melons and tomatoes.
- Food item mixed/covered with oil (because the oil seals the garlic from the air, fostering the growth of anaerobic bacteria, as explained above).
Non Potentially Hazardous Food are:
- Dried or dehydrated foods
- Foods that are strongly acidic.
- Commercially processed foods that are still in their original sealed containers.
Guides Against Pathogen – Temperature/Time Control for Safety (TCS)
As it is mentioned above, out of all the conditions that favors disease-causing bacteria, temperature is the only one we have main control over. The control principles is called Temperature/Time Control for Safety. The principles are:
- Don’t keep food item at normal room temperature longer than 1 hour.
- Keeping food below 40°F (4°C) or above 140°F (60°C) stops the growth of bacteria.
- Cooking food at temperature of 170°F (77°C) or higher for at least 30 seconds kills disease-causing bacteria. You can also sanitize your kitchen equipment and utensils by heat at this temperature.
Thorough hygiene and preparation methods along with adequate storage and cooking of homemade diets are important in the prevention of food-borne illness.
Food Hazards Control – Conclusion
To prevent food poisoning and food-borne diseases from the food, maintain personal hygiene and ensure the following:
1. Do not let food remain in the Food Danger Zone – i.e. temperatures between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) at stretch for a total of more than 4 hours between when the food is ready and serving. So take the portion of the food your dog needs for the day.
Don’t forget your dog won’t take her daily portion at once. So follow this preservation procedure for remaining portion for the day.
2. Put the remaining in an air-tight container.
3. Use ice-water baths to bring down the temperature of the hot food fast. Never place hot food directly off the stove into a refrigerator.
4. Stir food as it is cooling to redistribute the heat and help it cool more quickly.
5. Put it a refrigerator and keep below 40°F (4°C).
7. Do not keep your homemade dog food for more than 5 days.
8. Do not crowd refrigerator. Leave space around the container so cold air can circulate.
9. Keep refrigerator doors closed except when removing or putting in items.
10. Keep refrigerator clean.
11. Keep cooked and raw items separately, if possible.
12. If cooked and raw foods must be kept in the same fridge, keep cooked foods above raw foods.
13. When bringing food out of refrigeration, do not bring out more than the portion your dog need at a time.
14. Thaw and warm in a microwave oven and make sure your dog eat the meal portion within 1 hour of taking it out.
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