Food Safety Terms

Adulterated: A food is adulterated if it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance that may render it injurious to health.

Air dry: A method used to dry utensils, equipment in room air after they have been cleaned, washed, rinsed and sanitized. Drying cloths are NOT used. 

Air gap: An unobstructed, open, vertical space between a supply of potable water and any possible source of contamination. It is a device used as a preventive measure against backflow.

Bacteria: Living single celled microorganisms that require food, moisture and warmth to reproduce. Can be cause foodborne infection or intoxication. 

Water, wind, insects, plants, animals and humans (on skin, clothes and in human hair) can carry bacteria. They also thrive in scabs, the mouth, nose, throat, intestines and uncooked or room temperature foods.

Back flow: The flow of contaminants from unapproved water sources into the supply of potable water.

Batch: A quantity of material produced at one operation. A batch is limited in size to the quantity that the machinery can hold at one time.

Bulk food: Processed or unprocessed food in aggregate self-service containers from which quantities desired are withdrawn by the customer.

Carrier: A person who does not show symptoms of a disease, but is potentially able to spread the disease to others.

Clean: Free of visible soil, but not necessarily free of harmful microorganisms. A surface must be clean before it can be sanitized.

Code number: A number placed on the label or package of a product in order to identify it with a certain batch or production date.

Cooked foods: Food, either single or combined food ingredients, which through the application of heat, microwave energy, or other acceptable methods have been prepared to a safe internal temperature and are ready for human consumption.

Contaminate: To make impure or unclear, to soil, stain, or corrupt by contact. Foods may be contaminated by filth, bacteria, unsafe chemicals, foreign objects, insects or rodents and their excreta or body fragments.

Cross-contamination: 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 also occurs when raw food touches or drips onto cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Destroy: To render useless as food for man or animal; demolish.

Detergent: A cleaning agent that contains surfactants used with water to break down dirt and make it easier to remove.

Display case: Any cabinet or other facility used for showing food for sale. May or may not be kept refrigerated or frozen.

Decompose: To rot and break down into component parts; decay; deterioration away from a sound condition by natural change. May or may not emit offensive odors.

First aid: Emergency treatment for injuries and accidents.

First-In-First-Out (FIFO): The practice of using older food items before newer food items. The food first put into storage or refrigeration should be the first food used.

Foodborne illness: Sickness that occurs when contaminated food is eaten.

Food infection: Caused when live microorganisms are present on food when consumed.

Food intoxication: Illness caused by food containing toxins produced by harmful microorganisms.

Food poisoning: A term used to describe illness caused by eating contaminated food.

Food: The terms "food and "food product" include all articles of food, drink, confectionery or condiment, whether simple, mixed or compound, and shall also include all substances or ingredients to be added to food for any purpose.

Food contact surface area: 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.

Food service establishment: Any place where food is prepared and intended for individual portion service, and includes the site at which individual portions are provided, whether consumption occurs on or off the premises, or whether or not there is a charge for the food.

Foodborne illness: A disease that is carried or transmitted to humans by food containing harmful substances.

Frozen food: Any article used for food or drink that has been processed, packaged and/or preserved by good commercial practices and is in the frozen state.

Fungi: Includes molds and yeasts. The most adaptable of all microorganisms. Readily grows on all types of food in moist or dry environments.

HACCP: A Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system developed by the food processing industry. HACCP is a prevention based food protection system.

Hermetically sealed container: A container which is designed to be secure against the entry of microorganisms and to maintain the commercial sterility of its contents after processing.

Hygiene: Personal practices necessary for establishing and maintaining food health and preventing the spread of illness.

Host: The organism from which a parasite obtains nourishment.

Infestation: To be overrun by large harmful parasites, insects, or rodents.

Inspection access point: A port that opens, so that the food service worker can visually examine the interior of the equipment for cleanliness.

Internal product temperature: The innermost temperature of a food that has been received, processed, prepared, packaged, frozen or stored.

Microorganism: Microscopic one celled or multi-celled living organisms that include mold, yeast, bacteria, parasites and viruses. These organisms require food, moisture and proper temperature for growth; some produce toxins.

Packaged: Bottled, canned, bagged or securely wrapped.

Parasite: Organism that nourishes itself by attaching to other organisms. Commonly found in hogs, pigs, and contaminated water.

Partially cooked food: Food that has been heated to a temperature or time considered insufficient to kill microorganisms.

Pathogen: A microorganism which is capable of causing disease in a human or animal.

Perishable food: Any food of such type or in such condition or physical state that it may spoil or otherwise become unfit for human consumption.

Physical hazard: Occurs when non-food objects (hair, glass, pieces of broken equipment, chips of old paint, toothpicks) find their way into food as a result of faulty handling. 

Polluted water: Water fouled by foreign materials, such as sewage, which makes it offensive to sight and smell or a danger to  public health.

Potentially hazardous food: Perishable food that consists in whole or in part of milk or milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, edible crustacea or other ingredients, including synthetic ingredients, and which is in a form capable of supporting rapid and progressive growth of infectious or toxigenic microorganisms. 

The term does not include food products in hermetically sealed containers commercially processed to prevent spoilage, or foods having a pH level of 4.6 or below or a water activity of 0.85 or less under standard conditions.

Preservative: A chemical additive which will preserve some desired characteristic of a food by making certain chemical structures more stable or by detaining microbial growth; used to protect against decay, discoloration or spoilage.

Raw food: Food which may or may not be frozen, has had little or no heat applied, and/or may be consumed in the raw state or receive sufficient heat for complete cooking by a food establishment and/or consumer.

Safe temperatures: When considering potentially hazardous food, food temperatures of 140 F (60 C) or above, 45 F (7 C) or below, except that all frozen food during storage or transportation shall be 0 F or hard frozen.

Sanitize: The application of heat or chemicals that will kill most harmful bacteria.

Sterilization: The process of killing all living microorganisms.

Toxicity: Quality, state or degree of being poisonous.

Toxin: A chemical produced by living organisms which is poisonous to man or animals.

Utensil: Any implement, such as knives, forks, spoons, tongs, spatulas, scoops, pots, pans and mesh gloves, used in the processing, preparation, storage, handling or serving of food.

Vector: An organism that mechanically carries and transmits disease causing organisms.

Warewashing: The cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces of equipment and utensils

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