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What Is Food Safety? Things You Need To Know

"Food safety is related to the presence of food safety haz­ards at the time of consump­tion of food."
09 Mar 2019 15:24
What Is Food Safety? Things You Need To Know

Food safety is related to the presence of food safety haz­ards at the time of consump­tion of food.

Food safety hazards can occur at any stage of the food chain.

Therefore, adequate control throughout the food chain is essen­tial.

Food safety is ensured through the combined efforts of all the parties in the food chain.

Organisations within the food chain include crop producers, feed producers, primary food produc­ers, food manufacturers, kitchens and restaurants, hotels and resorts, bakeries, wholesalers and retailers, transport and storage operators, food service outlets, producers of food processing equipment, pack­aging material, cleaning agents, additives and ingredients, pest management and other service pro­viders (www.iso.org).

Communication paramount

Communication along the food chain is essential to ensure that all relevant food safety hazards are identified and adequately con­trolled at each step within the food chain.

This implies communication be­tween organisations both upstream and downstream in the food chain.

Communication with custom­ers and suppliers about identified hazards and control measures will assist in clarifying customer and supplier requirements (e.g. with regard to the feasibility and need for these requirements and their impact on the end product).

The most effective food safety sys­tems are established, operated and updated within the framework of a structured management system and incorporated into the overall management activities of the or­ganisation.

Some of the global management system frameworks that an organi­sation can adopt to ensure food pro­duced is safe is the Hazard Analy­sis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system or the ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems, which can be integrated well with the local legislations like the Fiji Food Safety Act and the Fiji Food Safety Regulations.

Why Food Safety is a Growing Concern?

It is our fundamental human right to consume food that is free from any contamination.

Unsafe food containing harm­ful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.

An estimated 600 million – almost 1 in 10 people in the world – fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years (DALYs) (www.who.int).

Food contamination is the pres­ence of harmful substances in food that results in severe health impact after the consumption of food.

Food contamination is usually classified into major categories as illustrated in Table1.

Food contamination can result in injuries, sickness, diarrhea, aller­gies, and even death.

Due to the rapid changes from glo­balisation and increased reliance of processed and semi processed food, food chains are becoming in­creasing sophisticated, and there­fore, chances of food contamina­tion in uncontrolled environments are extremely high.

For example, a simple dinner in a restaurant will have multiple in­gredients which may come from many different countries.

If these ingredients are not se­lected well and do not provide as­surance that it is contaminant-free, the chances of ill health after the dinner is very high.

A Preventive Approach

We therefore need well-coordinat­ed communication and assurance system throughout the food chain that the food safety hazards have been controlled at each stage of the food chain and the food, when con­sumed, does not pose any threat to the consumer.

In Fiji, we have many stakehold­ers that collaborate and contribute to such systems.

Our regulatory bodies like the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Central Board of Health, and the various municipal councils deal with national policies, regula­tions and monitoring systems for food safety.

Some organisations that operate commercially have implemented more stringent systems to manage food safety like the HACCP sys­tem and global standards like the ISO22000:2018 Food Safety Manage­ment Systems, BRC standards, SQF standards, FSSC standards etc.

One of the roles of the National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC) is to provide relevant train­ing and consultancy services on Food Safety Management Systems to the industries in Fiji.

Food Safety Related Services Offered by NTPC

The National Training and Pro­ductivity Centre offers a range of training courses and consultancy services to the food and related in­dustries in Fiji.

Some of our courses refer to Table 2.

NTPC also provides consultancy services in developing and imple­menting the systems and process as per the requirements of the HAC­CP systems, ISO 22000:2018 systems as well other food safety systems that is expected to be implemented within the organisation.

NTPC provides gap audits and gap analysis in the areas of food safety management systems.

Programmes on food safety

The whole objective of providing industries and organisations with programmes on food safety is to up-skill workers in the relevant fields. Bring the industries up to par with the current international require­ments and provide an insight of the requirements of the global market.

These programmes are also de­signed for people who provide ser­vices to food manufactures, such as pest management companies, hy­giene service providers and manu­factures of cleaning chemicals.

Individuals who are starting a new food facility, restaurant, hotel or kitchen can also undertake such courses provided by NTPC to in­crease competence and knowledge on food handling.

Apart from organisations being recognised by being certified with international standards, the pro­grammes offered by NTPC commits itself to ensuring that the partici­pants become competent with the requirement of the guidelines by the organsation is governed.

It helps organisation to follow best practices, thus ensuring food quality as well as food safety, which eventually increases profitability and reputation of the organisation.

Food is essential for human sur­vival and food safety should be par­amount to all food handlers in the food chain, from farm to fork.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj




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