Akshay Kamble

Food safety techniques is to prevent contamination and to reduce the risk of microbial contamination of food by proper handling, preparing and storage. Growing knowledge of food safety and quality awareness among the buyers has led to the growth of food safety industry in the recent years.

To reduce food contamination in processing facilities, processing equipments and tools which are primary source of contamination must be maintained and outlined properly. For maintaining safety and quality of food, hygienic methods such as sanitation or cleaning processes are important to carry out decontamination.

Steps for sanitation or cleaning process includes:

  1. Wet Cleaning: At the end of the production day, generally the decontamination of cleaning tools used in wet environment is carried out. The decontamination is done by use of hose through the immersion of warm water containing detergent.
  2. Dry Cleaning: In dry good environments, cleaning is done with the help of brushes which are thrown away after use. In dry food products for ensuring maximum food safety the cleaning tools are not wet cleaned as it may lead to the problem of microbial growth and cross contamination.

A range of methods used for cleaning and sanitation in processing and packaging to keep food from contamination and enhancing food safety includes:

  1. Portable high pressure, Low-volume cleaning equipments: It works on the principle of automation of cleaning through high pressure spray nozzle. The system is equipped with motor driven high pressure pump,storage container and high-pressure delivery line and nozzle. Portable high-pressure, low-volume equipment is relatively inexpensive and highly effective in removing large soils.
  2. High- pressure steam: This cleaning technique can be used to remove debris accumulated in processing equipment which can contribute to cross-contamination.
  3. Portable foam cleaning: Portable foam cleaning is one of the most popular cleaning techniques because of the ease of use and its foaming application. Foam is formed by mixing water and air with cleaning This cleaning technique is beneficial for cleaning of interior and exterior of processing equipments, piping, belts, storage containers.
  4. Portable gel cleaning: In this cleaning technique the cleaning technique is applied as a gel. This method is commonly used and is highly effective in food packaging
  5. Centralized or portable slurry cleaning: The foam produced has more clinging ability and formed slurry has more fluid than foam. The Slurry even has ability to penetrate un-even surface more
  6. Combination centralized high pressure and foam cleaning: The cleaning system is expensive and this system offers more flexibility because of the application of the foam on a large surface area.

For the application of sanitizer by hose or by spray header on processing equipment, especially moving belts or conveyors, sanitizing lines can be included in centralized high-pressure, low-volume cleaning and foam cleaning equipment.

Some other equipments or tools for enhancing food safety and quality:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment: This is the most essential equipment used for food safety techniques during food processing operations. They act as an important barrier and food safety handling tool which ensures safety in food manufacturing
  2. Bio-electric Tongues: Bio-sensors such as Bio-electric tongue is one of the recent examples of food safety technology and equipment. This equipment is promising and expected to enhance the performance due to its high selectivity and appropriate screening

Pest Control and Sanitation: Pest control is one of the important aspects in sanitation plan. The purpose of sanitation is to prevent food products from contamination. Flies and beetles, roaches, rodents, and birds are some of the most common food plant pests. To provide several barriers to this pest the approach of integrated pest management is used (IPM). Integrated pest management works on the approach to limit the conditions for the survival of the pest. 

  1. Insects: Insects can be found anywhere but most commonly they prefer warm Musca domestica is most common fly and sponging mouth part is used by them to vomit on food sources. Therefore, sanitation is important to eliminate major source of attraction such as moist debris and cleaning of spilled ingredients regularly.
  2. Rodents: Rodents are primarily responsible for the damage cause to food ingredients as they carry disease. Rodents includes rats and mice. Integrated pest management for rodents includes internal traps, rodent proofing, rodent prevention with help of bait stations and
  • Birds: Birds such as sparrows and pigeons can present problems to food facility. They carry diseases such as salmonella, toxoplasmosis, mycosis and Their nest can also contribute to the contamination of food. Integrated pest management for birds includes chemical treatment, habitat elimination and sanitation.

Insect-Resistant Packaging: Insects have different ability to enter packages at different stages because of their penetrating capability through packaging materials or invasion into packaging through openings. Packaging materials manufactured from polypropylene films are found to be more resistant to insects as compared to those manufactured from poly-vinyl chloride polymer.

Testing Kits 

  • Fortified Food Testing: Fortified food testing is the objective measurement of the program performance and it is rapid test which is carried out to determine added micro-nutrients in food products and to determine whether the food product compile with the technical specifications.

  1. Test for determining iron in flour: For the identification of the presence of iron in flours, the magnetic properties of elemental iron (reduced or electrolytic iron) are In hydrochloric acid by the mean of reaction with potassium ferricyanide, ferrous salts such as ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate can be specifically identified.
  2. Test for determining Vitamin A in flour: To determine whether flour contains vitamin A or not generally chromogenic assays are preferred. On the basis of colorimetric reaction, qualitative and semi-quantitative methods for the determination of vitamin A in flours are
  • Microbial or Health Food Testing: Microorganisms such as salmonella, coli, Listeria monocytogenes can cause contamination of food during processing and packaging. For the food safety requirement and decontamination, Microbial testing of food is essential.
  • Mycotoxin testing: Mycotoxins are responsible to cause major health issues to the human health. Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites and toxic chemicals produced by molds, which can wreak havoc by contaminating different grain and food crops during crop growth or during growth storage. Aflatoxin, ochratoxin, fumonisin and deoxynivalenol are some of the problematic mycotoxins responsible to impact grain quality and cause significant health and food safety

Methods for mycotoxin testing and analysis: 

  1. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA): This technique is based on coupling reaction between specific mycotoxin and antibodies for the determination of specific
  2. High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC): For testing and analysis of mycotoxins such as aflatoxins B1 B2 G1 G2, aflatoxin M1 and ochratoxin A, HPLC method with fluorescence detection is commonly used.
  • Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC-MSMS): This technique is most selective and most sensitive used for the detection of mycotoxins such as patulin, nivalenol, fumonisin, vomitoxin etc.
  • Agilent food safety solutions: This solution offers productive chemical analysis to more workflow analytical solutions to produce accurate data with consistent quality and without compromising food safety during processing and packagiing.

Food safety testing is yet to see many developments in the coming future. With the increasing food safety issues and foodborne diseases, it will be challenging for the food safety industry to perform better and overcome difficulties.