Food safety management (FSM) describes a system that provides strategic planning of identifying, preventing, and reducing occurrence of foodborne hazards. The system aims at making food safe for human consumption through total minimization of risks that lead to food poisoning. According to the Royal Society for Public Health (2007), the FSM system involves the application of a document known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). Achieving food safety requires appropriate training as well as guiding individuals through the ways of preserving food using effective methods that do not cause food contamination. This study outlines different elements that cause food spoilage.
Control of Physical and Chemical Contamination of Food
Food contamination is the process of exposing food to contaminant elements such as bacteria, chemicals, and insects. Contamination control aims at preventing spoilage of food with contaminants that may injure and compromise the health of the consumer. Both physical and chemical contamination control combines maintaining personal hygiene, preventing foreign materials from contaminating food, ensuring that the working surfaces are clean, and proper washing of the raw materials that are to be used in food preparation. Food contamination results in food poisonings and foodborne diseases, but these two terms are always used in different contexts (Mastromatteo, Conte, & Del Nobile 2010).
An infection resulting from consumption of food that is contaminated by viable microorganisms causing allergic reactions may be termed as a foodborne disease, whereas the bout of illness arising from ingestion of preformed toxins is referred to as food poisoning. Each of the above-mentioned conditions has a different parameter regarding food contamination. The common symptoms of food poisoning involve nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea lasting from one to twelve hours. On the other hand, symptoms of foodborne diseases include development of the illness in three to four days after consuming the spoiled food with the condition lasting for a longer period and complications with the risk of death setting in (Mastromatteo, Conte, & Del Nobile 2010). As part of control over foodborne illnesses, consumer guidelines require checking for tears and dents while buying products in packages. Additionally, storing food in clean containers, washing plants and raw foods properly, controlling temperatures of storing, and ensuring that there is no cross-contamination of raw food and processed/cooked one prevents food spoilage.
Agents of Food Spoilage
Additionally, food spoilage is connected with situations in which the original qualities of food such as flavour and texture are compromised making such food unfit for human consumption. Biological agents of food spoilage include bacteria, yeast, and mold; chemical pollutants include chemicals, metals, moisture, and the activity of enzymes; while physical agents include presence of insects in food (Maloney et al. 2003). The presence of bacteria in food is explained by their wide tolerance to oxygen in the atmosphere, so they are capable of growing anywhere and everywhere. For instance, bacteria can grow at ambient temperatures and, at the same time, they can grow in a cold environment. Molds are capable of spoiling food whose pH is too low for bacterial activity.
Fungus, which is an example of mold, produces toxic materials known as mycotoxins that further produce aflatoxins that cause foodborne diseases. Yeast causes food spoilage by producing pigments and undesirable chemical products in fruit juices, syrups, and honey where they convert simple sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Moisture accelerates food spoilage because the presence of water in food provides bacteria with all nutrients they require for growth and development. The inappropriate storage of food accelerates growth of the enzymes prompting bacteria to cause harmful changes that result in food contamination (Maloney et al. 2003). Similarly, yeasts are capable of causing spoilage on acidic fruits through formation of undesirable spots. Insects, worms, and weevils may cause food spoilage either directly or indirectly making the products not suitable for human consumption. With this nonexhaustive list of the described agents of food spoilage, there is enough reason to indicate that proper food preservation is both art and science and neither consumers nor food producers should ignore the importance of food safety (Quintavalla & Vicini 2002).
Food Preservation Methods
Food preservation is a process that aims at inhibiting the growth and activity of microorganisms, endogenous enzymes, chemical reactions that make the food deteriorate as well as preventing the invasion of insects and rodents. Thus, several methods of preserving food are used, and the most common one is freezing. According to Schafer (2014), freezing is a quick and convenient method of preserving food even at home, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. The method involves the use of low temperatures for preserving the quality of the food. The control over low temperatures depends on the use of freezers in maintaining inactivity of harmful microorganisms.
This process makes water, contained in the food, expand forming ice crystals that cause the cell walls to enlarge or partly ruin. It also preserves food by lowering the temperature and inhibiting microorganisms from growing. The freezer is set at low temperatures that enable the contained ice to fill the free space in cells and produce a dried product. Freezing creates a mass that is structurally rigid, preventing the product from collapsing when substitution of ice with water takes place during rehydration of the product. Freezing of food ensures that food spoilage is delayed, and that food can be stored for a longer period of time with the product retaining all the nutrients (ed. Ahvenainen 2003). Freezing is an effective method since it suspends microbial and fungal activity in food, but it is prone to changing its taste due to freeze injury it causes to the food’s cells.
How It Works
Chilling is another way of preserving food as it also delays the process of food spoilage. During chilling, the food is stored at low temperatures (from -1 to -5oC) preventing the growth of microbes during the storage period. The process simply reduces the rate of microbiological and biochemical changes in food extending the shelf life of fresh or processed foods, especially of wine and maggot cheese. Chilling has no adverse effects on taste, texture or nutritional value. However, a few changes influence certain plants, as well as sanitation, damage to the tissues and mixture of foods in the storage (RSPH 2007). The factors that must be considered while chilling food include control over low temperatures, relative humidity and air circulation, the type of food and composition of the atmosphere. Food that is chilled has a longer shelf life although it suffers from negative chilling effects due to low temperatures.
Another method of food preservation is marinating which involves seasoning of food with liquids before and after cooking. It is especially used for seafood that is marinated with acid-based solutions such as lime, lemon juice or vinegar. Marinating process adds flavour to food making it tender. This is because the acid-based solutions that are used break the tissue causing moisture to be absorbed by the former and this makes the product juicier (Trowbridge Filippone 2012). Food marinating is a relatively efficient method as the use of acids leads to production of proteins that are easily digested, although it does not stop the growth of harmful bacteria, it only slows down this process. Among others food preservation methods that involve the use of high temperatures to inhibit growth and survival of microorganisms is pasteurization of liquids and then cooling of the product extending the shelf life and quality of the products.
Food Control Establishments
The food control system named Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) aims at protecting public health from foodborne illnesses and poisoning. The institution sensitizes the consumers to unsanitary, unwholesome or adulterated food and ensures that producers follow the established regulations and contribute to economic development. Control establishment maintains consumer confidence in the food systems and provides sound regulatory bodies for the domestic and international trade in food (Aneja et al. 2014). This food control institution develops food laws and regulations that assist the producers in managing risks associated with foodborne illnesses by formulating feasible strategies. The developed policies ensure that effective regulatory measures and the monitored system aspects regarding performance are attained. This facilitates continuous improvement and ensures that all policies are under control.
Additionally, food control systems are involved at the inspection of services and in the evaluation of HACCP plans so as to ensure their proper implementation in protecting food from contamination with insects. This is done by inspecting the premises and the process systematically so that it can remain corresponding to the stated food hygiene codes. The system must, first of all, take samples of food during harvesting, processing, storage and selling so as to adhere to the laid codes and avoid risks. The laboratory is also concerned with services which ensure that all potential analyses are conducted in a manner that assures accuracy and reliability in enhancing the quality of food production for the consumers. Secondly, the food control system provides information to food producers, educates them, engages in their communication and training system in packaging all information and addressing any possibility of food contamination. The information is made available to all, including consumers (Wilcock et al. 2004).
Space Organization on a Food Premises
On a food premises, it is important that spacing of the fixtures and fittings applicable in the processing of food be considered effectively. One should allow space for the workers to carry out their duties in the best way possible without being limited to the amount of space available. Space should allow movement of the person and mobile equipment without causing contamination. The personnel should be involved in spacing of the enterprise so as to avoid accidents while activities are running. Proper spacing allows quick processing as members of the personnel can move without difficulties in different positions. The food premises require free circulation of fresh air, which is necessitated by proper spacing at the production flow (Food Safety Authority of Ireland 2010). Entrance of raw materials is made in a manner that it does not permit any contact of raw materials with the already processed products. This is because such an exposure highly contributes to contamination of processed products. The advantage of effective spacing in a processing plant is that adequate space allows free movements of the personnel, cleaning is done effectively and possibilities of post-contamination of the processed products is reduced.
Prevention of Risks
Risks in a food enterprise can be prevented by emphasizing to the personnel the importance of washing hands regularly with soap and warm water after handling raw foods and after touching the bin or going to the restroom. The working surfaces should be cleaned before and after preparing food. The personnel should at all times wear clean protective clothing such as dustcoats and gumboots. The processed food should be kept away from raw materials and it should be ensured that the processes products are always differentiated from raw or partially processed foods by colour and texture to avoid confusion. The products should always be preserved using efficient methods to avoid growth of pathogens. Finally, consumers should always check the products in case they are expired and avoid purchasing them.
Food Safety Guide for Legislation Compliance to be Used by Employees as a Training Resource
Food safety regulations apply to each stage of food and beverage production which are processing, manufacturing and distribution. The employees will thus comply with the regulations listed below after the training.
- Food safety standard - the overall standard of the system which ensures that all the food processing adheres to the environmental health conditions. During the training, all employees will be expected to ensure that all stages of food production meet the desired quality.
- Handwashing facilities - handwashing materials such as taps, soaps and towels will be placed in positions that are easily accessed by all personnel within the building.
- Storage facilities must be free from risks of food contamination. Food is stored for the longest time in these facilities hence this is the reason why their contamination should be reduced appropriately. They will be located in areas where there will be no likelihood of food contamination and food contact with surfaces.
- Pest control - all the rooms will be equipped with doors that are self-closing and the windows will be grilled so that insects, birds and rodents are kept away from the building.
- Toilet facilities - the protocol of toilet use must be available to all employees and any visitors who are likely to be present in the food processing facility. The workers will be expected to wash their hands every time after visiting the toilet facilities.
- Storage facilities - the workers will be responsible for ensuring that all available storage facilities are used correctly to prevent contamination of food with chemicals and microorganisms.
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