5 of the Most Common Food Contaminants to Know

Being stuck with food poisoning is never a fun experience. Here are five of the most common food contaminants to know so that you can be more vigilant.

Eating your favorite foods shouldn’t hinder you from having a lovely time. Whether it’s a small snack during the workday or a 7-course meal with your loved ones, food brings joy to many people. It provides energy and releases happy chemicals in the brain, bringing satisfaction.

But it’s never fun when your favorite food betrays you. Unfortunately, almost everyone has experienced some food poisoning. Food poisoning, also referred to as foodborne illness, is the result of ingesting contaminated, spoiled, or toxic foods. For children to well-adjusted adults alike, food poisoning is uncomfortable and exhausting, and it leaves you unhappy. It might even change your perspective on your favorite foods, making you completely uninterested. Here are 5 of the most common food contaminants to know so that you can be on the lookout.


Salmonella bacteria are significant factors when it comes to food poisoning. They mostly contaminate raw meat, raw or undercooked eggs, and unpasteurized milk. The bacteria are found in feces and inside certain animals, such as in the ovaries of hens. Thankfully, salmonella is killed when food is thoroughly cooked.

Symptoms of food poisoning from salmonella can start 16 to 48 hours after you eat and last 2 days.

E. coli

Escherichia coli, or E. coli for short, is a group of bacteria that generally live in the intestines of children and adults. It’s one of the most infamous foodborne pathogens, transmitting similarly to salmonella, except for eggs. A few common symptoms of an E. coli infection to look out for are diarrhea, abdominal pain, and, in some cases, nausea and vomiting. Treatment usually relies on rest and constant hydration.


Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is the leading cause of food poisoning. Although they ordinarily cause skin infections such as pimples or boils, these bacteria can become transferred to food when handled by an infected person. Staph toxins are not killed through cooking or freezing foods, so one must instead focus on prevention. Frequent hand-washing and keeping food away from skin contact are essential for keeping staph from spreading. Symptoms start 1 to 6 hours after eating, and discomfort lasts about a day.

Clostridium Perfringens

Clostridium perfringens is a bacterium found in soil, sewage, and the intestines of humans and animals. The food handler usually transfers it to the food itself, where it multiplies and becomes a toxin. The foods most involved are cooked beef, poultry, gravy, fish, casseroles, stews, and bean burritos. Symptoms appear 8 to 24 hours after ingestion and can last up to several days.


Campylobacter is mainly found in children, usually after they eat undercooked or raw chicken or drink unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Typical symptoms range from diarrhea and cramps to a fever, lasting about 2 to 5 days.

To avoid these 5 most common food contaminants, make sure that you thoroughly cook your food and that it isn’t expired. Don’t worry about every single dish you eat; just trust your instincts and enjoy yourself.

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About GFDI Team

Team of talented writers who have a passion for sharing, connecting and preserving the history and culture of the African diaspora.
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