Food Safety and Hygiene is a universal concern and has become extremely important in the food industry today. To remain competitive in the market, food entrepreneurs need to maintain excellent food safety and hygiene standards. The ISO 22000 standard was created by the International Organization for Standardization to properly manage the safety and security of food and identifies the essentials that every food safety management system must have, which includes:
- System management
- HACCP principles
- Prerequisite programs
- Interactive communication
The best part about the food safety management system is that it will evaluate, identify, and control food hazards at every level of the food supply chain, whether it is in transportation, storage, packaging, food preparation, or ingredient supply.
Why is Food Safety Management Required?
Food safety and hygiene are vital for reducing food-borne illnesses, which can be caused by biological hazards, like natural toxins, chemical hazards, or parasites, pathogenic viruses, and bacteria. People can fall sick and even die if proper food safety guidelines aren’t followed. Bacteria can start growing and contaminate the food if it hasn’t been properly refrigerated, cooked, handled, or stored.
There will also be problems such as product recall, where the sellers can request consumers to return products that have been found to have safety issues or defects that could endanger the consumer. This would mean legal action will be taken against the seller. This is why it is so important to comply with food safety guidelines. Doing so ensures that the shelf life and quality of food products are maintained.
How Food Safety Management Systems Help
To learn more about food safety management systems, we will need to talk about how food safety management systems can help businesses. An effective food safety management will be based on the 7 principles of HACCP, which help in identifying and controlling hazards before they can become a threat to the safety of the food and consumers. The seven principles of HACCP include:
1. Hazard Analysis
This is a preventive approach for food safety that helps to identify all chemical, physical, and biological hazards in the production process, which may lead to a finished product that is unsafe. It also defines the controls for reducing all uncertainties and bringing them to a safer level.
2. Critical Control Point (CCP)
The points which are applied at different stages of the process for reducing or eliminating hazards and bringing them to an acceptable level. For instance, cooling rice too slowly can result in food poisoning. The critical control point here is cooling.
3. Critical Limits
The safety limits which help determine a minimum and maximum value for every CCP. This separates the unacceptable product from the acceptable product. You can monitor critical limits through observation or measurement.
Procedures for monitoring include measurements or observations to evaluate if the CCP protocols are met, and proper steps for food safety are being followed.
5. Corrective Action
Actions that are required if there are deviations from the critical limit that has been established. Corrective actions ensure that the products aren’t unadulterated due to the deviation or aren’t injurious to health.
Verification helps determine whether all hazards have been identified and the food safety management plan is implemented properly. Verification will monitor if the plan and guidelines are effective and working as they have been designed.
7. Record Keeping & Documentation
This involves complete forms and records to verify if all checks are carried out properly at the right time following the Food Safety Policy. Food industries can be ready for an audit if they follow all the proper record keeping and documentation procedures.
Why a Food Safety Management System Is Important?
A disease that is transmitted through food to people is known as a foodborne illness. It can be considered as an outbreak if more than two people have reported similar symptoms after consuming the same food. Regulatory authorities will then carry out an investigation and the outbreak will be confirmed after laboratory analysis. Every year millions of people fall sick due to eating unsafe food. This is where a food safety management system can be so important since it can prevent such outbreaks, and help save the company from millions in fines and keep its reputation intact.
How a Foodborne Illness Can Impact a Business
Every year foodborne illnesses cause businesses to lose billions of dollars in the United States. The impact of foodborne illnesses for a company can be disastrous and it can affect them in the following:
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of sales and customers
- Legal fees and lawsuits
- Negative media exposure
- Higher insurance premiums
- Lower staff morale
- Staff missing work
- Staff retraining costs
The human cost holds a higher value than the monetary loss, as individuals suffering from foodborne illnesses, may experience death, long-term disability, medical costs, and lost work.
What Causes of Foodborne Illnesses
Contamination is the main cause of unsafe food, and this can be categorized in the following manner:
- Biological contaminants, which are fungi, bacteria, or parasites
- Chemical contaminants, which are polishes, sanitizers, and cleaners incorrectly used
- Physical contaminants, which are objects that may get into food like metal shavings, glass, dirt, bag ties, etc.
Food can also become contaminated through mistakes made by food handlers. The risk factors or common mistakes, which can lead to a foodborne illness include:
- Buying food from sources that are unsafe
- Cooking food incorrectly
- Storing food at improper temperatures
- Using equipment that is contaminated
- Practicing poor personal hygiene
Designing and implementing a proper food safety management system is important for businesses since it helps them improve in various areas and maintain their quality standards. It’s important that the management aligns the needs of the business with the food safety objectives to take advantage of them. It is not only important for the health of consumers but for the reputation of the business in the marketplace as well. If your business is in the food industry, you can’t take any risks when it comes to food safety, and that is why food safety management systems are so vital for them.