Food safety practices to help prevent biological hazards

Blog » Food safety practices to help prevent biological hazards
Did you know that CDC estimates each year roughly 7.6 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases?

That’s why food safety practices to help prevent biological hazards should be a top priority for any food and beverage company. There are various types of biological hazards like bacteria, viruses, parasites, or mold. These biological hazards can lead to infections or foodborne illnesses when inhaled, eaten, or in contact with skin. About 90% of biological hazards in food can be prevented by ensuring personnel hygiene and avoiding cross-contamination.

This blog will talk about which food safety practices will help prevent biological hazards and the steps you can take to prevent the transmission of these harmful organisms.

Different types of biological hazards

Biological hazards refer to organisms and substances produced by organisms that can make us sick. The temperature, pH level, and water activity are all factors that impact the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It’s important to understand each type of microorganism to implement the food safety practices which will help prevent biological hazards.


Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that can exist both in the environment as well as within humans and animals. They are capable of reproducing at a rapid rate and can be found in many foods but especially those that have been left out at room temperature for too long or cooked incorrectly. There are many different types of bacteria that can affect a product, but some examples are E. coli and salmonella. Both E. coli and salmonella cause illness when they enter the body through contaminated food or water. Symptoms of an E. coli or salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.


Viruses are another form of biological hazard that can be found in food products such as milk or water. Viruses do not have a cellular structure like other living organisms do; instead, they must infect other cells to reproduce themselves. Viruses cannot be seen by the naked eye and can only be detected with laboratory testing. Some common viruses include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and rotavirus.


Parasites such as tapeworms live inside another organism (host) to survive. Tapeworms usually infect animals such as cattle, sheep, and pigs before infecting humans through contaminated meat products such as pork or beef. They can also infect fish that have been left uncooked for too long. It can then become transmitted into the human body through the consumption of these raw or undercooked fish products.

Tips for preventing biological hazards in food safety

  • To prevent contamination between personnel and food, contact with bare hands should be minimized or eliminated.
  • Hands and surfaces must be washed and cleaned frequently.
  • Raw meats must be handled and separated from other types of food.
  • Employees must make sure to not sneeze or cough on food, sneeze guards or cough shields could be implemented.
  • Food handlers with cuts or open wounds on their hands should stop working immediately.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables must be washed before peeling, cutting, cooking, or eating.
  • All foods should be obtained from trusted sources and production facilities.
  • Vehicles or tools used when transporting food should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly.
  • Microbiological analysis of the water being used in washing and cooking food must be done regularly.
  • Equipment, utensils, and other types of tools used in the production of food must be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Ensure effective thermal processing such as pasteurization or cooking is in place.

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Ceren Dulgar

Ceren is a marketing enthusiast who is fascinated by the expansive world of EHS. You can catch her reading about the latest EHS news or advocating workplace safety.