Food safety

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Food safety is a scientific discipline describing the handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Food can transmit disease from person to person as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In developed countries there are intricate standards for food preparation, whereas in lesser developed countries the main issue is simply the availability of adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item.[1]

Regulatory agencies

UK regulation

HACCP guidelines

The UK Food Standards Agency[2] publishes recommendations as part of its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programme. The relevant guidelines at http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/csctcooking.pdf state that:

"Cooking food until the CORE TEMPERATURE is 75 °C or above will ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed.
However, lower cooking temperatures are acceptable provided that the CORE TEMPERATURE is maintained for a specified period of time as follows :

  • 60 °C for a minimum of 45 minutes
  • 65 °C for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • 70 °C for a minimum of 2 minutes"

UK Department Of Health

Previous guidance from a leaflet produced by the UK Department Of Health “Handling Cooked Meats Safely A Ten Point Plan” also allowed for:

  • "75 °C for a minimum of 30 seconds
  • 80 °C for a minimum of 6 seconds"

as well as the above. Secondary references for the above may be found at:

Note that recommended cooking conditions are only appropriate if initial bacterial numbers in the uncooked food are small. Cooking does not replace poor hygiene.

Australia

Food safety Training is good for everyone www.cft.com.au Australian Food Authority is working toward ensuring that all food businesses implement food safety systems to ensure food is safe to consume in a bid to halt the increasing incidence of food poisoning, this includes basic food safety training for at least one person in each business. Smart business operators know that basic food safety training improves the bottom line, staff take more pride in their work; there is less waste; and customers can have more confidence in the food they consume. Food Safety training in units of competence from a relevant training package, must be delivered by a Registered Training Organization (RTO) to enable staff to be issued with a nationally-recognised unit of competency code on their certificate. Generally this training can be completed in less than one day. Training options are available to suit the needs of everyone. Training may be carried out in-house for a group, in a public class, via correspondence or online. (To find Food Safety Training available search Google or contact the local Health Department ) Basic Food Safety Training includes: • Understanding the hazards associated with the main types of food and the conditions to prevent the growth of bacteria which can cause food poisoning • The problems associated with product packaging such as leaks in vacuum packs, damage to packaging or pest infestation, as well as problems and diseases spread by pests. • Safe Food handling. This includes safe procedures for each process such as receiving, re-packing, food storage, preparation and cooking, cooling and re-heating, displaying products, handling products when serving customers, packaging, cleaning and sanitizing, pest control, transport and delivery. Also the causes of cross contamination. • Catering for customers who are particularly at risk of food-borne illness, including allergies and intolerance. • Correct cleaning and sanitizing procedures, cleaning products and their correct use, and the storage of cleaning items such as brushes, mops and cloths. • Personal hygiene, hand washing, illness, and protective clothing.

People responsible for serving unsafe food can be liable for heavy fines under this new leglislation, consumers are pleased that industry will be forced to take food safety seriously.

US regulation

Federal-level regulation

In the United States, federal regulations governing food safety are fragmented and complicated, according to a February 2007 report from the Government Accountability Office.[3] There are 15 agencies sharing oversight responsibilities in the food safety system, although the two primary agencies are the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry, and processed egg products, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for virtually all other foods.

State and local regulation

A number of states have their own meat inspection programs that substitute for USDA inspection for meats that are sold only in-state.[4] Certain state programs have been criticized for undue leniency to bad practices.[5]

However, other state food safety programs supplement, rather than replace, Federal inspections, generally with the goal of increasing consumer confidence in the state's produce. For example, state health departments have a role in investigating outbreaks of food-borne disease bacteria, as in the case of the 2006 outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 from processed spinach.[6] Health departments also promote better food processing practices to eliminate these threats.[7]

In addition to the US Food and Drug Administration, several states that are major producers of fresh fruits and vegetables (including California, Arizona and Florida) have their own state programs to test produce for pesticide residues.[8]

Restaurants and other retail food establishments fall under state law and are regulated by state or local health departments. Typically these regulations require official inspections of specific design features, best food-handling practices, and certification of food handlers.[9] In some places a letter grade or numerical score must be prominently posted following each inspection.[10] In some localities inspection deficiencies and remedial action are posted on the Internet.[11]

Consumer labeling

UK labels

Food stuffs in the UK have one of two labels to indicate the nature of the deterioration of the product and any subsequent health issues:

Best before indicates a future date beyond which the food product may lose quality in terms of taste or texture amongst others, but does not imply any serious health problems if food is consumed beyond this date (within reasonable limits).

Use by indicates a legal date beyond which it is not permissible to sell a food product (usually one that deteriorates fairly rapidly after production) due to the potential serious nature of consumption of pathogens. Leeway is provided by producers in stating use by dates so that products are not at their limit of safe consumption on the actual date stated. This allows for the variability in production, storage and display methods. www.city-and-guilds.org.uk/documents/ind_hospitality-catering/HC-33-7247.pdf

US labels

With the exception of infant formula and baby foods which must be withdrawn by their expiration date, Federal law does not require expiration dates. For all other foods, except dairy products in some states, freshness dating is strictly voluntary on the part of manufacturers. In response to consumer demand, perishable foods are typically labeled with a Sell by date.[12] It is up to the consumer to decide how long after the Sell by date a package is usable. Other common dating statements are Best if used by, Use-by date, Expiration date, Guaranteed fresh <date>, and Pack date.[13]

Codex Alimentaurius

In 2003, the WHO and FAO published the Codex Alimentarius which serves as a guideline to food safety [14].

See also

References

  1. I. A. Shiklomanov, Appraisal and Assessment of World Water Resources, Water International 25(1): 11-32, 2000
  2. Food Standards Agency - Homepage
  3. GAO-07-449T, Federal Oversight of Food Safety
  4. State Meat Inspection Programs.
  5. USDA Allowed State Meat Inspection Programs To Operate Even After Finding Cutting Boards Contaminated With Old Meat And Soot-Like Residues On Swine Carcasses.
  6. State Health Department announces test results: Match genetic fingerprints to E. coli outbreak, Press Release, October 12, 2006.
  7. CDHS Education Training Unit
  8. Pesticides and food: How we test for safety. California Department of Pesticide Regulation, June 2003.
  9. New York Restaurant Inspection Information
  10. NYC Health Dept. Launches Restaurant Cleanliness Certificate
  11. A Guide to Food Safety Practices in Virginia Restaurants
  12. Expiration, Use-by, and Sell-by Dates, Part 1: Expiration dating is not federally required on all products
  13. Expiration, Use-by, and Sell-by Dates, Part 2: Deciphering food expiration codes can be tricky.
  14. Codex Alimentarius. "Codex Alimentarius and Food Hygiene" (PDF). Retrieved 15 October. Unknown parameter |accessyear= ignored (|access-date= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

Further reading

  • Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, ISSN: 1541-4337 (electronic) 1541-4337 (paper), Blackwell Publishing
  • Food Control, ISSN: 0956-7135, Elsevier
  • Food and Chemical Toxicology, ISSN: 0278-6915, Elsevier
  • Food Policy, ISSN: 0306-9192, Elsevier
  • Journal of Food Protection, ISSN 0362-028X, International Association for Food Protection
  • Journal of Food Safety, ISSN: 1745-4565 (electronic) ISSN: 0149-6085 (paper), Blackwell Publishing
  • Journal of Foodservice, ISSN: 1745-4506 (electronic) ISSN: 1748-0140 (paper), Blackwell Publishing
  • Sensing and Instrumentation for Food Quality and Safety, ISSN: 1932-9954 (electronic) ISSN: 1932-7587 (paper), Springer
  • Internet Journal of Food Safety, ISSN: 1930-0670, International Association for Food Safety/Quality

External links

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de:Lebensmittelsicherheit uk:Безпека харчових продуктів


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