Food Safety Glossary
The following are some common terms associated
with combatting foodborne illness:
Living single-celled organisms. They can
be carried by water, wind, insects, plants,
animals and people. Bacteria survive well
on skin and clothes and in human hair. They
also thrive in scabs, scars, the mouth, nose,
throat, intestines and room-temperature foods.
Refers to the danger of food contamination
by disease-causing microorganisms (bacteria,
viruses, parasites or fungi) and their toxins
and by certain plants and fish that carry
The removal of visible soil and debris.
The unintended presence of potentially harmful
substances, including microorganisms in food.
The transfer of harmful substances or disease-causing
microorganisms to food by hands, food-contact
surfaces, sponges, cloth towels and utensils
that touch raw food, are not cleaned, and
then touch ready-to-eat foods. Cross-contamination
can also occur when raw food touches or drips
onto cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
A disease that is carried or transmitted
to humans by food containing harmful substances.
Examples are the disease salmonellosis, which
is caused by Salmonella bacteria and the
disease botulism, which is caused by the
toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium
Food contact surface:
Any equipment or utensil which normally comes
in contact with food or which may drain,
drip or splash on food or on surfaces normally
in contact with food. Examples: cutting boards,
knives, sponges, countertops and colanders.
A group of microorganisms that includes molds
HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
HACCP (pronounced hassip) is a system originally
designed by NASA for monitoring food production.
HACCP involves seven principles:
- Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food
and measures to control those hazards are
identified. The hazard could be biological,
such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin;
or physical, such as ground glass or metal
- Identify critical control points. These are points in a food's production--from
its raw state through processing and shipping
to consumption by the consumer--at which
the potential hazard can be controlled or
eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling,
packaging, and metal detection.
- Establish preventive measures with critical
limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might
include setting the minimum cooking temperature
and time required to ensure the elimination
of any harmful microbes.
- Establish procedures to monitor the critical
control points. Such procedures might include determining
how and by whom cooking time and temperature
should be monitored.
- Establish corrective actions to be taken
when monitoring shows that a critical limit
has not been met--for example, reprocessing or disposing
of food if the minimum cooking temperature
is not met.
- Establish procedures to verify that the system
is working properly--for example, testing time-and-temperature
recording devices to verify that a cooking
unit is working properly.
- Establish effective recordkeeping to document
the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and
their control methods, the monitoring of
safety requirements and action taken to correct
potential problems. Each of these principles
must be backed by sound scientific knowledge:
for example, published microbiological studies
on time and temperature factors for controlling
The number of new cases of foodborne illness
in a given population during a specified
period of time (e.g., the number of new cases
per 100,000 population per year).
A small life form, only seen through a microscope,
that may cause disease. Examples: bacteria,
fungi, parasites or viruses.
An incident in which two or more people experience
the same illness after eating the same food.
A microorganism that needs a host to survive.
Examples: Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma.
A microorganism that is infectious and causes
The removal of disease causing bacteria.
A thick-walled protective structure produced
by certain bacteria and fungi to protect
their cells. Spores often survive cooking,
freezing and some sanitizing measures.
Poisons that are produced by microorganisms,
carried by fish or released by plants. Examples:
Botulism caused by the toxin from Clostridium
botulinum, scombroid poisoning from the naturally
occurring scombroid toxin in some improperly
refrigerated fish, such as mackerel and tuna.
A protein-wrapped genetic material which
is the smallest and simplest life-form known.
Example: Norwalk virus, hepatitis A.