Guidance for Consumers | Food Safety

As citizens, you are the key focus of every food operation, we provide reliable resources on how you can become a part of the conversation in making the food that you eat safer. Simple practices often go a long way.

A food hazard is something that could make food unsafe or unfit to eat. It’s important to identify those stages in your business when hazards could be present so they can be removed or reduced to safe levels (FSA, 2017). This section highlights the following types of hazards: allergenic, physical, radiological, chemical, microbiological and hazard analysis.

i. Allergenic hazards

The identification, control and communication regarding food allergens has always been a critical issue throughout the food supply chain.

IFST Food Allergens Knowledge Hub Since the subject of allergens, and the implications for food businesses, has been brought into even sharper focus, IFST has a dedicated knowledge hub for Food Allergens.

IFST Food Allergy Factsheet

ii. Physical hazards

These may include glass, hair, metal (machinery fragments, swarf, nuts, screws & bolts), plastic fragments, jewellery, filth (including grass, insect and plant fragments), fingernails, building materials (wall plaster, concrete, flakes of paint), packaging (staples, string, polythene, and cardboard), insects, rodent & other droppings, birds and bird fragments, bone, microplastics and nano plastics. Be vigilant when unpacking food at home.

iii. Radiological hazards

iv. Chemical hazards

These may include:

Chemical residues such as pesticides, veterinary medicines, biocides:

Natural contaminants like marine biotoxins (e.g. shellfish toxins), mycotoxins, glycosides, plant-based toxins (e.g. pyrrolizidine alkaloids). There is a distinction between natural toxins from those inherently present in the plant intended to be eaten vs. those present in cross-contaminating weeds as the risk management controls are different:

Environmental contaminants like heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):

Process contaminants such as acrylamide, glycidyl esters, monochloropropanediol (MCPD), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), ethyl carbamate, furan, cleaning products and disinfectants, pest-control contaminants, ethylene oxide:

IFST Information Statement on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Bacterial toxins - botulinum, staphylococcal, tetrodotoxins, bacillus cereus:

Printing inks, mineral oils, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), BPA as a result of packaging migration:

Food additives:

Contaminants – radionuclides, histamine, brominated flame retardants (no maximum residue limits (MRL) in law:

v. Microbiological hazards

IFST Information Statement on Foodborne campylobacteriosis


IFST resource

Recommended reading for a quick overview

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