What is Food Safety and How It Works?

What is Food Safety and How It Works?

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As we are well aware of the realistic fact that food is the basic need of people and more precisely, we can say that safe and cautious food has become an integral need of all inhabitants. Safe and sound food is now the requirement of all customers. People of the present time have become busy and now they generally prefer processed food products. Because of the preferences of customers and interested parties about the selection of safe processed food products, now all food processing industries are facing a challenging ball game. which is to be called “Food Safety” to meet the customer requirements. Lets go for a review in what is food safety and how it works?

food safety

What is Food Safety?

Food safety and how it works is a scientific discipline which deals with the accurate handling, processing, and storage of food commodities within the premises of a food processing industry to prevent food safety hazards and food-borne illnesses as well as a food-borne disease outbreak. The world is progressively moving towards food safety culture. Now, food industries are following proper standard operating procedures (SOPs) and pre-requisite programs (PRPs) to ensure the food safety and management system within the premises of industries and to prevent the food hazards and contamination.

Food Safety and How It works in Food Industries

The food industries consist of consecutive series of unit operations with the help of which they convert raw feed material into finish processed products for the customers. This is not just linked with the one-unit operation of the industry but it is linked with the whole process line. Food safety is to make sure the effective and efficient outputs of the product to prevent the food safety hazard within the industry and food-borne disease outbreak within the premises of the market. To create an effective food safety and management system Food Process Engineers and Food Technologists work with a great enthusiastic and technical approach to ensure the safety of food products from the very first processing operation to the last one.

food safety

How Professionals Handle Food Safety

Food safety and how it works within the premises of industries deals with the proper storage and handling of raw materials, hygienic production, and processing of raw materials by following GMPs (Good manufacturing practices) and GHPs(Good hygiene practices), proper control of physical and engineering parameters, and aseptic packaging.
Food safety is also linked with proper cleaning and sanitization of industries to make sound premises and environment to avoid food safety hazards. Many practices fall under this scenario like the proper implementation of CIP (Clean in place) operations.

What is Food Security?

Food security deals with the availability of food for the people. It is different from food safety because food safety is used within the industries to ensure safe food and food security deals with the proper availability of food. People got confused about food safety and food security. Food security deals with the control of environmental factors, good pre- and post-harvest practices, and incorporation of innovative and scientific technologies to prevent the food losses, training of farmers, and vicinity factors.
Food safety and food security are interlinked with each other and there are a lot of similarities in both terms.

food safety

How Food Security Works?

Food security is directly linked with the secure and sound availability of food commodities either perishable, semi-perishable, and non-perishable commodities. We can say with great confidence that no one can achieve food safety by neglecting food security. It is not possible to ensure food safety by neglecting the post-harvest issues, cold storage practices, environmental scenarios, farmers training, pre-harvest crop practices, control implementation of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, germicides, fungicides, yield production management, and vicinity factors that all are under the umbrella of food security.

Food Security Issues

The whole world is badly facing food loss issues and especially the statistical percentage of food losses in under-developing countries is devastating. Food losses in India and especially in Pakistan is touching the sky. Only in Pakistan, the food losses are almost ~43% per annum.

So, Food security and food safety both are important. Food safety is of industrial importance and food security is linked with all factors mentioned above.

Why We Need Food Safety?

About 70 to 80% of the food available in the market is processed and millions and trillions of people like to consume processed food, more precisely safe processed food. So, it’s a prerequisite to provide safe food to consumers by ensuring food safety and management system in industries. Any food processing industry can achieve good market penetration of products, if it is satisfying its customers by ensuring safe, nutritious, and sound food products. All MNCs (Multi-National Companies) are making a huge and splendid revenue and turnover per annum from the market, because they are delivering safe food to all customers and getting their reliance and satisfaction.

food safety

Why Food Regulation Authorities Focused on Food Safety?

There are many Internationally recognized foods regulation authorities that are promoting the food safety culture within the premises of food industries in all over the world. Different authorities regulate the international standards for food industries for effective food safety and management systems. The main aim of all food standard agencies is to deliver safe and sound food for better health predicaments of people.

Food Safety Regulations in Industries

Food industries generally follow the different product and process standards regulated by different Internationally recognized agencies. Industries hire food safety specialists and quality control officers to ensure food safety within the premises of food industries for safe and sound production and delivery of food products.

Food Safety Departments and How It Works

The major food standards formation agencies that are of international recognition are as follow:

  • GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative)
  • ISO (International organization for standardization)
  • FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
  • FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)
  • USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)

The main focus of all industries is to eliminate food hazards and to promote food safety culture by following the different standards by different food safety and regulatory authorities for the betterment and prosperity of people.

Food Safety Standards

The food safety standards are the set of rules made by international food safety authorities to ameliorate the product efficiency of industries. Food safety standards are now a compulsory condition for all food processing industries for the betterment and prosperity of people. There are many benefits of implementation of food safety standards but the main focus of all food safety standards is to eliminate food safety hazards during processing, good laboratory practices for sensory as well as objective analysis to check the quality of food commodity.

Food Regulations and Legislation

As discussed earlier, various food regulation agencies make food safety standards for the implementation of food safety culture within the premises of industries to prevent food hazards and food-borne illnesses. Different food safety standards are regulated by the mentioned agencies.

There are six major food safety standards. Their names are as follow:

  • Food safety and management system standard (FSMS) – ISO 22000-2018
  • International featured standard (IFS)
  • Safe quality food (SQF)
  • Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP)
  • British retail consortium global standards (BRCGS)
  • Food safety and system certification (FSSC)-22000

Most Common Food Safety Standards

From the above-mentioned standards, HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) is the core of all standards and more precisely we can say that HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) is the backbone of all food safety standards and without effective and efficient HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) plan industries cannot achieve good food safety and management systems.

What is HACCP?

HACCP defines as “Hazard analysis and critical control points” and its main focus is to eliminate food hazards. It is a process of implementing critical control limits on critical control points to ensure food safety and process reliability within the premises of food processing industries.

It consists of seven basic principles and five preliminary steps with the help of which we can make an authentic food safety system within our food industry.

Advantages of Food Safety

There are effective and efficient advantages of the implementation of food safety standards. Some splendiferous advantages of food safety culture are mentioned below:

  • prevents food safety hazards in the industry and helps in improving the quality control and quality assurance system.
  • It prevents food-borne outbreaks among people.
  • Saves people from various contagious diseases like hepatitis A, cancer, Diarrhea, typhoid, liver inflammation, kidney failure, and vicinities.
  • It increases the product reliability and repute of industry
  • It increases process control and reliability
  • Maintains the food product and enhances the shelf life by lowering the microbial load
  • It stops the growth of spore-forming and non-spore-forming micro-organisms like E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes.
  • Maintains the shelf life of the product
  • It saves the product from different physical, biological, and chemical contamination including cross-contamination.
food safety

Food safety Guidelines and How It Works

There are different food safety guidelines not only for food processing industries but also for the restaurants, hotels, and vicinity food points. By following the food safety guidelines regulated by food safety agencies we can achieve food safety culture.

Basic food safety guidelines for small scale food production:

  • Implement a time and temperature control system (TCS) while cooking.
  • Implement a proper hygiene management system.
  • Wear proper and recommended dressing while you are in the production area.
  • Don’t wear rings and a wristwatch.
  • Apply FIFO (First in and first out) technology for effective raw material handling.
  • Proper freezing and thawing.
  • Use all PPEs (Personal protective equipment).
  • Effective HACCP plan and teamwork.
  • Proper cleaning and sanitation of production areas.
  • Sterilization of all food cooking equipment.
  • Basic food safety guidelines for large scale food production:
  • Regulate all parameters of all unit operations after equal intervals.
  • Implement international food safety standards as discussed earlier.
  • Implement GMPs (Good Manufacturing practices).
  • Perform proper sanitation processes like CIP (Clean in place).
  • Effective HACCP plan with proper flow charts and process diagrams.
  • Ensuring good pest management system by implementing IPM (Integrated pest management) technique.
  • Ensure GHPs (Good Hygiene Practices)
  • Ensure good laboratory practices including international product testing practices
  • Good sensory and objective sampling for effective lab testing.

Food Safety Regulations and Standards

As discussed earlier, different International food safety agencies make food safety standards and implement these standards in food processing industries for effective prevention of food hazards. These agencies also perform external audits to check the food safety scenarios of different industries.

Health and Hygiene Guidelines

All food production systems should follow the proper hygiene guidelines that are of international importance and recognition like,

  1. Wearing proper personal protective equipment
  2. Avoiding wristwatch and loose clothes
  3. Wear surgical masks and gloves
  4. Vicinity hygiene management practices in production premises

Steps for Achieving Food Safety

Some steps for an effective food safety system within industries are as follow:

  • Avoid cross-contamination
  • Implement GMPs
  • Implement GHPs
  • Follow International food safety SOPs and standards
  • Use all PPEs
  • Perform proper cleaning processes and sanitation procedures
  • Perform internal quality audits
  • Train all labours for proper food storage practices
  • Follow time and temperature control system for various unit operations
  • Apply FIFO technology
  • Apply effective and strong HACCP plan with authentic HACCP team from various departments
  • Follow at least one food safety standard like ISO 22000-2018 revised edition

Conclusion

To conclude and close the whole debate, in a nutshell, we can say that: “The food is not food If it is not safe”.

Food safety and how it works is the most important part of the food production system and it is very important for effective prevention of hazards and food-borne illnesses. We cannot neglect the importance of food security because both food safety and food security interlinked with each other and both are equally valuable. 

All industries should follow theses standards for effective FSMS and also should focus on the better crop management system, pre-harvest, post-harvest technology and innovations to avoid the food losses globally. The total world population is ~8 Billion (Statistical analysis of 2020) so, it’s an obligatory duty of all food authorities, regulatory agencies, and food processing industries to ensure both food security and food safety to safely feed a huge number of people.

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