An Overview of Common Food Product Contaminants

An aspect of food plant sanitation procedures is the identification of common contaminants. These are the common contaminants known in the food processing and manufacturing industry.


Food-borne diseases exist, primarily due to pathogenic bacteria. Consumers have been warned to properly store their food and to prepare it appropriately to avoid diseases that occur due to infection. Common disease-causing microorganisms are Salmonella, E. coli, and L. monocytogenes. L. monocytogenes are a primary concern of sanitation professionals because basically, it exists everywhere. This type of bacteria can infect the whole food manufacturing plant. Salmonella and E. coli can become dangerous, too, when they proliferate in the site. These bacteria may not necessarily destroy food products, but their presence in them can lower their shelf life. The good thing is that these microorganisms can easily be killed through thorough cooking.

Aside from the pathogens mentioned above, there are other agents that can cause food spoilage. These are yeast, mold, Pseudomonas, and Lactobacillus. These can be eradicated through appropriate food plant sanitation procedures.


While microorganisms mentioned above are easy to get rid of, there is another biological contaminant, but this one gives a challenge in sanitation. A biofilm forms when surfaces are not cleaned thoroughly. Unclean surfaces may provide a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive and grow. The bacteria may trap microscopic debris and nutrients. As they grow in number, they form a biofilm, which covers surfaces that may appear clean to the naked eye. Food products that come in contact with contaminated surfaces become filthy too. Biofilms pose risk in manufacturing. They are not easy to get rid of because they adhere to surfaces effectively. Removal involves proper rinsing, cleaning, mild scrubbing, and application of sanitizers. The formation of biofilms can be prevented by cleaning equipment and utensils right after production. Many food manufacturers hire food plant cleaning services to make sure that even the stubborn microorganisms are eliminated.


You probably thought that contaminants are only microbes, but there are others, such as chemicals. There are many possible sources of chemical pollutants, like cleaning solutions and food ingredients. One can get rid of unwanted substances by cleaning the equipment after usage. Residues during the previous manufacture contain elements used. These elements remain on the equipment surface unless thorough cleaning and rinsing is done. Even organic substances, like protein, can contaminate food products that are next in line.

Lubricants used to run equipment smoothly may also come in contact with food being processed or manufactured, although the chances of that happening may be low. Excess oil on machines should be detected before production starts. Hence, regular inspection of equipment is essential.

Other Contaminants

There is a chance that friction between surfaces during the production process could create metal fragments that may be introduced to the food being processed. Other possible contaminants are insects, hair strands, and even foreign matter. Such contamination is most probably a result of gross negligence on the part of the workers. However, food manufacturers are quite stringent with their hygiene policies. Workers are supervised to make sure that they enter the work site neat and in proper attire. This is on top of making sure the facility is clean before, during, and after production.