Food safety and hygiene are the most crucial factors in the food business. It helps protect the consumers from health risks related to foodborne diseases, allergens, and food poisoning.
Food poisoning happens when someone consumes contaminated food, which may cause health problems and conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, and more. Usually, food poisoning cases aren’t severe, and people affected may get treated within a couple of days or weeks even without treatment.
However, there are cases when food poisoning becomes serious and may require immediate medical care. These cases may be due to a high concentration of contaminants in the food, especially if the contaminants are chemical-based. That’s why it’s essential for all food businesses to know how to protect their consumers from these unfortunate events.
What Are Food Hazards?
The overall goal of food safety is to reduce and eliminate the presence of hazards to serve safe and high-quality food products. Food hazards are risks that contaminate the food. These are divided into three groups—biological, physical, chemical. So, what are the differences between these three?
- Physical Hazards
Physical hazards may result from accidental contamination of food due to foreign materials. The most common physical hazards are glass debris, hair, nails, cosmetics, metal debris, pieces of jewelry, dirt, and toothpicks.
According to TDI Packsys, the best way to prevent physical hazards from occurring is by checking all tools and personnel before and after production or by using advanced machinery such as X-ray machines and more.
- Biological Hazards
When food is contaminated by biological hazards, it has been infected by microorganisms, causing food-borne diseases. These microorganisms are called pathogens, meaning illness-causing microbes.
Here are the most common pathogens found in food and their origins:
- E. coli. This is the most common pathogen, which could be found in fecal matters.
- Salmonella. This may be present when improper preparation of poultry products, specifically eggs and raw poultry, occurs. Salmonella could contaminate an egg if it has cracks before consuming it. If you see this on your egg, throw it away.
- Campylobacter. This is another pathogen that originates from raw poultry meat, which may result in a catastrophic nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome if consumed. This may occur if there’s a thorough washing of raw poultry meat, which may spread this microorganism everywhere.
- Listeria. This may be less common than other pathogens above, but it can cost someone’s life. The most common sources of this pathogen are raw milk and dairy products, deli meats, meat spreads, and produce.
These are just some of the most common pathogens to observe. The best way to protect anyone from these is by maintaining a clean and safe environment or making sure that every food product is clean.
- Chemical Hazards
The possible chemical hazards in food businesses are potent cleaning agents such as bleaching solutions, dishwashing soaps and liquids, and detergent powders. To prevent these hazards from contaminating your food, you want to make sure that all chemicals are stored separately or far away from food products.
Also, you want to make sure that every trace of chemicals is cleaned and washed thoroughly before starting the production.
To learn more details about handling food safely and professionally, your staff needs proper food handler training through online or offline courses.
What Are The Basis Of Food Safety Concepts?
Almost all rules and regulations concerning food safety and hygiene are based on two concepts: the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). These two concepts are used as a standard and basis of rules by most food manufacturing businesses around the world.
- Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points (HACCP)
HACCP is a system consisting of principles primarily used to address and prevent issues caused by physical, biological, and chemical contamination from receiving raw materials to the distribution of final products. The system is created to identify potential food safety issues before they occur rather than performing inspections during the process.
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
GMP is an internationally recognized system that aims to promote quality food products through strict implementation of food safety guidelines. These guidelines will assure that all products produced are safe for human consumption. Unlike HACCP, GMP is used to inspect the manufacturing plant’s before and after production processes.
As the basis of international standards for food and non-food products, there are third-party auditing firms that help food businesses by providing guidelines. They also offer internationally recognized certifications. These certifications prove that your business complies with food safety laws governing your country and internationally.
What Are The Best Food Safety And Hygiene Practices?
Creating comprehensive food safety and hygiene protocols will help your staff know how to execute proper and correct work practices. These are the following food safety and hygiene principles your food business would need to include:
- Intensive Cleaning
You’d need to make sure that all surfaces, including countertops, tools, equipment, and personnel directly handling the food are clean and sanitized as much as possible. You’d also need to maintain their cleanliness before, during, and after cooking.
Also, it’d be best to have a separate chopping board, depending on what type of food you’re handling. For example, a specific chopping board is assigned for vegetables, red meats, poultry, and seafood. This will prevent cross-contamination from different sources of raw meats and produce.
- Proper Food Storage
The first thing you need to do is identify which type of food needs to be stored in a freezer. If food only needs to be refrigerated, make sure that the fridge has a temperature below 5 °C. However, if it needs to be kept frozen, the freezer should have a temperature of –18 °C.
- Proper Hygiene Of Food Handlers
Personnel who are in direct contact with food should adhere to the following:
- Hair must be tied and hidden properly with a hairnet
- Hands must be washed thoroughly before, during, and after the process
- Uniforms must always be clean
- Wear gloves instead of using bare hands to touch the food
These are the basic hygiene rules you need to implement to prevent further contamination.
Maintaining safe and hygienic food is the most important factor to consider when you’re in the food industry. This won’t only help you improve your brand image, but also helps you prevent unfortunate legal consequences and hefty fines.
The primary goal of food safety and hygiene protocols is to make sure food products are free from physical, biological, chemical hazards. In order to keep your food free from these, always make sure your company is following proper work practices, including correct food storage, proper cleaning, and appropriate hygiene.