Food safety

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food safety

Food safety is the guiding principle for food production and tradingworldwide and it’s focused on protecting consumer’s health.

Table of contents:

How is food safety defined?

According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) food safety is the absence, or safe, acceptable levels, of hazards in food that may harm the health of consumers. Food borne hazards can be microbiological, chemical or physical in nature and are often invisible to the plain eye; bacteria, viruses or pesticide residues are some examples”.

Nominally what could be defined a simple definition implies considerable amount of connotations, often not so evident, which travel with food along its way “from farm to fork”. Tracking and tracing that road is one of the most complex challenges to be faced by food supply chain actors. The fact of having immediate access to the whole product’s chain is a competitive strength that technologies as blockchain and TRAZABLE’s platform bring to brand’s fingertips.

Food safety is impalpable but unwavering

One of the main reasons why it becomes difficult to spread what food safety is, lies in the fact that most consumers do not consider the possibility of becoming injured by certain foodstuff. The act of eating or drinking should only cause nutrition and tasty sensations. Nobody expects becoming ill by having a meal, never mind the kind of food it is: an omelette, a candy or an orange juice.

Food safety indeed is beyond nutritional suitability or compliance with special diets requisites. Safety faces the most convenient way to handle food in order to avoidthat consumers are exposed to food hazards, either intrinsic or extrinsic. In respect thereof, bottled water and chewing gum are also considered as food themselves.

The responsibility of keeping safety along the whole food supply chain, regards to food operators themselves. European regulatory frame is built on the fact that each and every food (or feed) which is marketed must comply with innocuousnesscriteriatowards human health.

To this respect, European authorities compel producers to demonstratethat their product is safe. This principle underlies all along each and every of the regulations on food safety in the EU and its member states. This commitment also applies to those actors which do not produce but import foodstuff from abroad EU.

Food chain operators’ mandatory issues

Food producers must guaranteethe preservation of food hygiene all along their processes

  • Foodstuff must obey those microbiologic criteria (microorganism presence boundaries) determined by law, in addition to those collective agreements, good practices records or sectoral agreements.
  • It’s food operators’ responsibility to determine procedures which permit reaching those safety objectives which are needed to maintain food hygiene.
  • Food safety maintenance requirements must be accomplished. Storage and transport conditions have to match adequate temperature without breaking cold chain.
  • Producers will have sampling and analysis programmes on their facilities and products which permit verify the implementation of adequate procedures to keep food hygiene.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points’ operation

Food hazard are those biological, chemical or physical conditions which are able to harm human health, independently if they are intrinsic or caused by food handling . Food safety and hygiene bear some relation to operators’ capability of producing foodstuff in addition to reducing to the maximum level those hazards which can cause health damage.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a methodology that has been running from last century to nowadays. Employed as a tool, it permits analyzing how foodstuff are designed, manufactured and delivered. HACCP enlightens whether practices are acceptable or not according to food safety maintenance and health protection

Traceability in food safety

Food operators are compelled by law to market only those products which are innocuous and in compliance with food safety regulations.

In those cases when a producer is concerned that a loss of safety has been produced, it will compulsory to initiate measures and protocols to identify to the earliest opportunity which are the batch or batches that could have been affected. That procedure must be carried off with the aim of identifyingthose contaminated foodstuff and being able to manage withdrawal or avoiding they result commercially available. These measures are only possible if manufacturers implement traceability system availability.

To make a successful traceability exercise (this is also compulsory for private certifications like ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, BRC, IFS, GLOBALGAP), producers must keep records on the origin, handling, manufacturing, packaging, expedition and transport of each and every of the batches delivered.

In these terms digital transformation and new technologies provide tools to improve data storage and access. Blockchain is a tool which has proved to be complete and efficient to establish reliable traceability. Now you can find out how blockchain can improve your traceability by addressing to TRAZABLE’s platform.

How is food safevty affected by hygiene?

The definition of food hygiene includes all measures and operations that must be performed to produce safe foodstuff.

Food hygiene and safety include each and every action and precaution that make possible hazard depletion to a tolerable level. The boundary where an inacceptable condition begins is where consumers’ safety is at risk.

Food safety “from farm to fork”

Primary sector (cattle, agriculture, aquaculture, etc.) safeguards most of food safety targets in the very first steps of food supply chain. Their effort focuses, on the one hand on preserving good agricultural practices, and on the other hand focusing on maintaining those environmental conditions which permit that food is kept and handled safely andfree of hazards.

Regulations are focused on maintaining food safetyand traceability all along the road “from farm to fork”. This expression implies that information recording is imperative to guarantee food hygiene. With this aim food supply chain must be aware of:

  • Prime mater’s origin: How and where has prime mater been cultured? Which kind of products have been used to that purpose? When has it been harvested? How have those storage and transport conditions been like?
  • Concerns on handling and transformation: How and where has the product been processed? Which parameters have been used to that purpose (humidity, temperature, time, pressure)? Has that product been in touch with other relevant materials or ingredients (GMOs, allergens, etc.)?
  • Shipping and transport conditions: Under which conditions has the product been transported? Which measures have been settled to protect product’s integrity?

Food safety in manufacturing processes

Looking after environmental conditions to maintain hygienic principles in industrial facilities where foodstuff is being handled may result complex unless proper tools are used.

That is the reason why organisations must implement and record documented management systems, according to HACCP principles. This is the framework where those undertaken variables and operations need to be recorded and kept safely stored.

Private certificates: Sector’s guarantors

There is certain diversity among those standards which are worldwide recognised. But there is a factor in common to the whole of them: they all base organisation performance on creating and maintaining food safety management systems which permit producing safe foodstuff. Some of them are well known as for example: ISO 22000, BRC, IFS, FSSC 22000, GLOBALGAP or SQF. Despite their different origins, approaches and scopes all of them are built on a common origin which is Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points or HACCP, as a mean to guarantee food safety.

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