Food Safety Education

Food Contaminants

About 90% of the food we eat comes from overseas sources. It makes us vulnerable to a global trend of increasing foodborne disease outbreaks.

Disease-causing micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can cause foodborne illnesses. Continued exposure to residues of agricultural chemicals like pesticides and fungicides can also cause harm to our body.

In Singapore, SFA implements comprehensive checks to ensure that our food is safe, wholesome and of acceptable quality before it is retailed.

As a consumer, you can further protect yourself by ensuring that you buy your food from reliable sources, and through proper handling of your food.

Bacteria that can cause food poisoning

Microbial agents are associated with acute and chronic diseases in human beings. These microbes or micro-organisms may come from animals, the environment or human beings. Bacteria like SalmonellaListeriaCampylobacterE. coli O157:H7 may come from animals and can be directly transmitted as foodborne infection to human beings.

Bacteria that can cause food poisoning
Food Poisoning Bacteria Disease Incubation Period/ Signs and Symptoms Commonly Associated Food
Salmonellosis Incubation: Usually 12 to 36 hours, or could be up to 72 hours.
Symptoms: Diarrhoea, abdominal pain, mild fever, chills, dehydration, prostration, anorexia, nausea and vomiting. These normally last a few days. Septicaemia may occur.
Meat, poultry, eggs and their products. Other incriminated food include coconut, smoked fish, milk powder.
Campylobacteriosis Incubation: 1 to 7 days
Symptoms: Diarrhoea (stool often foul smelling, bile stained, watery, mucoid or bloody), abdominal pain, fever, anorexia, headache, nausea. Duration 1 to 5 days.
Poultry, raw milk
Listeria monocytogenes
Listeriosis Incubation:Probably 3 to 4 weeks.
Symptoms: Fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, monocytosis, meningitis, abortion.
Widespread in the environment and can be found in raw milk, cheeses (particularly soft cheeses) raw vegetables, raw and processed meat products.
Vibrio cholerae

Incubation :short incubation period of 2 hours to 5days.

Symptoms :Profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, low blood pressure, thirst, muscle cramps, restlessness or irritability.

Contaminated water, fish and shellfish
Vibrio parahaemolyticus
Gastroenterititis Incubation: 12-24 hours, but can range from 4-96 hours.
Symptoms: Watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain in most cases and fever, headache, nausea.
Contaminated water, fish and shellfish.
E. coli O157:H7Ecoli Haemorrhagic colitis which may progress into haemolytic uraemic syndrome Incubation: Usually 3-4 days but can range from 12 hours to 8 days.
Symptoms: Severe stomachache and diarrhoea, which is initially watery but becomes grossly bloody. Occasionally vomiting occurs. Fever is either low-grade or absent, kidney problems may eventually arise resulting in death
Contaminated beef, raw milk and other foods such as vegetables and cheese.