Contamination – Definition, Causes, Impact, Countermeasures and Examples

For this discussion we will provide a review of Contamination which in this case includes the Definition of Contamination, Examples of Contamination and Causes of Contamination.

So in order to better understand and understand see the full review below.

Definition of Contamination

So what is meant by contamination? Definition of Contamination is a condition of mixing / contamination of something by other elements that give certain effects, usually a bad impact.

The components that cause contamination are very diverse, both inanimate objects and living things. Contaminants that come from inanimate objects such as chemical compounds and dirt, while contaminants that come from living things such as microbes.

And in general, the word contamination is always associated with something that means bad/negative. The use of the word “contamination” is often used for many things, including:

  • Food “food contamination”
  • Environment “environmental contamination”
  • “Cross-contaminating” foodstuffs
  • Language “contamination of words, sentences”

Microbial Contamination in Foodstuffs

  • Microbial Contamination From Soil

Soil contains various kinds of microorganisms that can be a source of contamination. If microbiologists want to look for a new type or strain of a microorganism for a particular purpose, they usually first look for it in the soil. Not only a few types, but in large numbers microorganisms are found in fertile soil, which can contaminate plants growing on the soil.

  • Microbial contamination from water

Water in nature not only contains normal flora but also contains microorganisms originating from the soil and possibly also from animal waste. The water surface of rivers or ponds and the water at the bottom of large lakes and ponds may contain various kinds of microorganisms in units of millions per mm after a rainstorm, which is more numerous than the lake and pond at rest or there is no thunderstorm. Groundwater after spring will exit through layers of soil and rocks: because many bacteria live in the water, the number of bacteria in this water ranges from several hundred per millimeter.

  • Microbial Contamination From the Air

Food contaminated from the air has an important role in sanitation for economic reasons. Organisms that contain disease, especially those that can cause infections of the respiratory system or in food that causes contamination. The number of microorganisms in food that can come from the air, especially when air is used as aeration in food products, although organisms enter by sedimentation from the air is always not a concern. Airborne mold spores cause problems with cheese, meat, condensed milk, sliced ​​bread and lard.

Environmental Contamination

Environmental contamination is contamination of food ingredients caused by environmental conditions that are less well maintained.


  • Air: temporary medium for influenza viruses & bacteria
  • Soil : botulinum & C. Perfringens
  • Salmonella, Shigella, faecal Streptococci wastewater ,

Other Sources:

  • Equipment: during use or storage
  • Equipment contamination from materials, workers and air
  • Overcome with: hygienic design and effective cleaning

  • Water
  1. Water as a cleaning medium Needs special safeguards. For example, ultra violet
  2. Garbage used for washing contains water that has a waste flora
  3. The good places for the bacterial micro-organisms are Clostridium batulinum and Clostridium perfingens. Can be found in the setup and save area in a variety of ways
  4. With food and wrap
  5. With the shoes of the workers
  6. With air (almost every dust belongs to the sewer class

  • Air
  1. Air pollutes processing, packaging, storage and preparation sites ditempat
  2. Polluted air is caused by several factors. Dew drops when talking, sneezing, coughing can be the center of micro-organisms

  • Waste
  1. Poor waste management: sources of contamination
  2. Can pollute water sources, rivers, lakes, seas so that food from these waters can be polluted

Production place

  1. Judging from the cleanliness of the floor used, if there is standing water it can be a source of contamination in food.
  2. Door handles contaminated with workers’ hands, processing equipment surfaces contaminated with microbes, can contaminate the product being processed.
  3. On the walls that are dirty and not cleaned as a breeding ground for microbes
  4. On the tools used in the cooking process
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Product raw materials

Contamination contained in the raw food product itself. Prior to the processing, the product has been contaminated with bacteria, this can be caused by unfavorable environmental conditions, bacteria present in the animal (eg cattle affected by anthrax), raw material handlers who are less hygienic (cross contamination)

  • Contaminants from raw materials:
  1. Microbes from soil, water, pesticide residue
  2. Animals: microbiology, antibiotics, hormones
  • Meat
  • salmonella
  1. Knives and tools when slaughtering
  2. Hair, skin, digestive tract, respiratory tract.
  3. Contamination during: slaughtering, cutting, processing, storage and distribution
  4. Carcass contact with dust or other debris
  • Milk
  1. Cow, milker
  2. Cross contamination: worker, container

Examples of contamination due to human activities; Factory waste is dumped into rivers so that river water becomes toxic to living things. Examples of contamination due to natural activities; volcano erupts, natural gas is poisonous.

Cross Contamination

The definition of cross-contamination is the transfer of bacteria from raw food ingredients to finished food products, either directly or indirectly. Cross-contamination generally occurs due to the process of storing foodstuffs and the process of making food that is not clean.

An example of cross-contamination occurs when a dirty knife contaminated with harmful substances is used to peel a mango that is about to be eaten. Another example, plastic storage contaminated with feces is used to store meat.

Causes of Contamination

In general, there are three causes of contamination, namely biological contamination, chemical contamination and physical contamination.

  • Biological contamination, some of the causes of biological or microbiological contamination are “protozoa and worms” parasites, viruses, pathogenic bacteria, which can cause poisoning and infection in humans.
  • Chemical Contamination, chemicals that can cause intoxication in humans. Some of the chemicals that cause poisoning include antibiotics, pesticide residues, industrial chemical contamination.
  • Physical Contamination, contamination of a physical nature, such as stones, dust, hair, metal, pieces of wood, nails or even cooking utensils used. Physical contamination does not always cause disease, but it is still dangerous and interferes with human health

Impact of Physical Contamination

In general, food contamination can cause many health problems for people who eat contaminated food. Among them can cause disturbances in the digestive tract, kidneys, liver, heart, and other organs. In addition, food contamination can also cause food poisoning.

Physical contamination in the form of foreign objects if swallowed with the food or drink we consume will certainly be very dangerous for our bodies. For example, if there is broken glass that enters our body, it will certainly injure our organs and can even cause death.

Physical Contamination Prevention Efforts

Some actions that can be taken to prevent or avoid food contamination include the following:

Personal Hygiene

People who process, cook, or serve food need to understand and understand that cleanliness is the basis of health. Patients with scabies (scabs), inflammation of the respiratory tract, or digestive tract diseases are sources of transmitting germs to food, especially to cooked food. The ways of transmission are through touching with dirty hands, sneezing, and coughing. Washing hands with clean water is an absolute requirement for food handlers, especially after urinating or defecating.

Environmental Hygiene

In addition to personal hygiene, cleanliness of the workplace and the surrounding environment, workplace facilities are equally important. There must be enough clean water available, enough sunlight. Food processing and storage must receive special attention where the food processing area must be in a clean condition. In addition, cooking utensils and cutlery must also be kept clean so that they do not become a source of bacteria.

Tools should be cleaned as well as possible so that no organic remains are visible to the eye. This action can be helped by using detergent and if this material is used it must be washed / rinsed well with clean water. wash foodstuffs, such as meat and vegetables under running water when they are freshly purchased, to remove chemicals, pesticides, and germs.

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At the Food Ingredients Selection Stage

Materials that are eaten raw must be transported and stored separately from other raw materials and non-food ingredients. So as to minimize contamination by foreign objects.

At the Food Storage Stage

Storage must be done in a special place that is clean and meets the requirements. Items must be arranged properly so that they are easy to take, do not allow insects or rats to nest, avoid flies/rats and for perishable or damaged products to be stored at a cold temperature. . And each food ingredient is placed separately according to its type.

At Food Processing Stage

Food processing is the process of changing the shape of raw materials into ready-to-eat food. Good food processing is one that follows the rules and principles of good hygiene and sanitation in the washing process, food handling, cooking process, use of food additives and use of cooking utensils.

In Food Storage Stage

Food that has been cooked or is ready to be served, not all of it is directly consumed by us, especially food that comes from catering or catering services. Some things to consider when storing cooked food include:

  1. Food served hot should be kept at a temperature above 60 degrees Celsius.
  2. Food that will be served cold is stored at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius
  3. Food served in hot conditions stored at a temperature below 4 degrees Celsius must be reheated to 60 degrees Celsius before serving.

At Food Transport Stage

Healthy food transportation will play a very important role in preventing food contamination. Contamination of cooked food is higher risk than food contamination. Therefore, the emphasis is on controlling food contamination in cooked food.

At the Presentation Stage

The presentation of food must be in accordance with the principles of food hygiene and sanitation, so that there is no contamination of the food to be served.

Tackling Contamination

How to deal with contamination of toxic and hazardous materials:

  • When exposed to corrosive liquid

Immediately washed with water repeatedly on the affected, before being taken to the ER to be treated by a doctor.

  • When exposed to solid corrosive materials

Immediately wash with water repeatedly on the affected area, if necessary with soapy water.

  • When burns due to chemicals

Immediately avoid these chemicals and wash them with water repeatedly and immediately be treated by an emergency room doctor.

  • Burns due to heat

First aid can be done by compressing ice water or pouring water until the pain goes away and does not come back. If necessary soak in water. Cooling relief measures can be taken to relieve pain and more importantly that cooling will be stopped or slow the reaction of the destruction of body tissues due to fire. This first aid must be followed immediately by a doctor’s treatment.

Clothing that is attached to or adjacent to the burn needs to be removed, avoid contamination of the wound and do not clean the wound or apply topical agents, such as butter, oil, soy sauce and toothpaste. Cover the wound with a sterile, clean cloth or bandage that is treated by a doctor.

Example of Contamination

Examples of physical contamination include: dust, soil, stones, glass, hair, staples, klips, animal waste, safety pins, needles, leaves, parts of animals such as fur or animals such as lizards, insects and so on. Sources of physical pollutants can occur in conditions where food processing is not clean, storage of foodstuffs and ready-to-eat food is not good so that dust and soil are possible as well as contamination by rats and insects, the presence of pets such as cats, chickens and birds in food processing areas. can cause physical contamination of food.

Likewise, humans who manage food that do not use work clothes, good hair cover and how to wash cooking utensils and storage can cause contamination by human hair and dust .