Food safety refers to preparation, handling, and storage of food in a manner to reduce the risk of consumers becoming sick from foodborne illnesses.
The principle of food safety is to prevent food from contamination and also preventing to cause food poisoning. It is a matter of concern all across the globe and different steps have been taking place to resolve this problem. Some include: cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces and equipment; maintaining the level of personal hygiene; proper processing and storage of food with regards to temperature; environment; and proper pest control whereever needed.
The food safety considerations include: the origins of food including the practices relating to food labelling; food hygiene; food additives and pesticide residues; as well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. Food safety is about producing, handling, storing and preparing food in such a way as to prevent infection and contamination in the food production chain. Food safety helps to ensure that food quality and wholesomeness are maintained to promote good health.
It is a big concern for the food industry now because some microbes have demonstrated resistance to methods of food preparation and storage, and to antibiotics.
Protecting Food-borne Illness with Everyday Food Safety
Food-borne illness is generally caused by eating food that is contaminated by bacteria or other harmful substances. When the food is contaminated it becomes hazardous. Contamination may take place because of the harmful substances and microorganisms. It may happen during the process of production, transportation, packaging, storage, sales and cooking process. The type of contamination of the food can be categorized as physical, chemical and biological.
Physical Contamination refers to the contamination of food by objects like hair, plant stalks or pieces of plastic and metal, etc.
Chemical Contamination refers to the contamination of food by pesticides, herbicides, veterinary drugs, and also contamination from environmental sources like water, air or soil pollution, etc.
Biological Contamination refers to contamination by substances produced by living creatures, such as humans, rodents, pests or microorganisms, etc.
When it comes to protecting yourself and others against food-borne illnesses, the best and most effective way is by ensuring that you always maintain a high level of food safety.
There are countless potential food safety hazards that could crop up at any stage during the food handling process. This article is listing out some of the most common issues that arise during food safety.
Temperature is one of the important factors in terms of maintaining the food safety of food products. Different food products have specific temperature requirements such as they undergo different temperature treatments like chilling, freezing, heating, pressurization, etc. in terms of food contamination and food safety.
Perishable foods like meat products, dairy products, seafood, eggs, etc. have specific requirements in relation to temperature. Because in a certain temperature range of 5 to 60 degrees, known as the danger zone for contaminating the food products, bacteria grow most rapidly. So, the food is left as minimum as possible in this temperature range. There are certain guidelines to reduce the risk of contamination. These guidelines include:
• For refrigeration, the temperature should not be more than 5°C
• For freezing the temperature should not reach above – 15°C
• For heating food, the temperature should reach above 75°C and remain there for at least 2-3 minutes.
The term cross-contamination is referred to as the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object or place to another. Cross-contamination also refers to the contamination that has taken place because of the reusing utensils, chopping boards, cleaning cloths or cooking equipment that has already touched other food. Taking proper measures to prevent cross-contamination is a key factor in preventing food-borne illness.
Why Food Safety is Important to the Food Industry
Food safety is of absolute significance to the food industry. Food Safety ensures that consumers are protected from physical, chemical & biological hazards during the entire lifecycle of food which includes procurement, processing, packaging, delivery and storage. It clearly demarcates that what is safe food to consume and what is not. Food safety guidelines or laws make it mandatory for the producers and processors to follow them. Such standards not only check and monitor potential hazards but establish critical control points that ensure such risks are eliminated and the food is safe for consumption.
Food safety includes a number of steps that need to be followed by the food industry in order to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Therefore, it becomes very important for people to understand how their behaviour and activities contribute to the safety of food. Also, at the same time, they can understand that how they can decrease the risk of food-borne illness. From processes on the farm to practices in the kitchen, human activities play an important role in food safety.
Keeping food safe is an important issue that is affecting people all across the world. If food safety is not handled properly it may lead to disastrous consequences.
* Editor Food Marketing & Technology Magazine