Food borne illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of health care. The good news is that they are preventable! Food safety is a shared responsibility of everybody involved with food, from governments, food producers, retailers and consumers. All along the food chain, legislation and controls are implemented to minimize the risk of contamination and ensure that the food which reaches the consumer's table is safe. The best way to demonstrate that your Foods product or service is to be well informed about the basic principles of food production and safe food handling.
Food processing techniques that can reduce levels of mycotoxin contamination include physical, chemical, enzymatic and microbial methods. Physical processing methods (such as sieve-cleaning, flotation density sorting, heating and washing) are well established and efficient. Manual and automatic sorting, milling, steeping and extrusion can also significantly lower mycotoxin content in food. Heat treatment at specific time/temperature combinations is one of the most important physical treatments, by which to reduce the mycotoxin content in a finished product.
Implementing following steps food processors can successfully ensure food safety:
1. Pest control
Pest control plays an important part in food safety. Troublesome insects such as cockroaches and flies can spread food-borne diseases by contaminating food at any stage of production. Rodents also spread diseases as well as causing damage to buildings, fixtures and machinery. Stored product insects can damage and contaminate food during transport and storage.
2. Cleaning Programmes
Establish cleaning and disinfection programmes to ensure the correct hygiene standards are met and reduce the risk of a foodborne illness outbreak.
This includes proper cleaning and disinfecting food preparation areas as well as machinery and utensils used within the food processing cycle to eliminate the microorganisms that cause food poisoning.
Adhering to the correct cleaning processes will also reduce the risk of pests such as rodents, flies and cockroaches in food preparation and processing areas by removing potential food sources and insect breeding sites.
3. Waste management
If food waste is accumulated, it can attract pests to areas where food waste is stored, thereby bringing about the possibility of pest infestations, posing a risk to food safety.
This can be prevented with the provision of appropriate containers; suitable, secure waste storage areas and establishing adequate procedures for waste removal on a regular basis.
By ensuring these procedures are successfully in place, food processors can help improve food safety compliance by reducing the risk of pest infestations as well as contamination.
4. Personal hygiene
Installing the correct facilities for staff to ensure proper personal hygiene is met contributes towards meeting food safety requirements.
Bacteria can easily be spread through biological and physical contamination. This can put foods at high risk of carrying food-borne diseases.
The Food Standards advises that food handling businesses ensure the following factors are considered to ensure personal hygiene:
Hand Washing -ensure effective hand washing techniques are followed at appropriate times Minimize hand contact with food
Minimize Food Contact-try to minimise direct hand contact with raw food by using appropriate utensils and safe use of disposable gloves
Personal cleanliness — cover hair; do not sneeze or cough over food; cover cuts and sores; and do not wear jewellery
Wear protective clothing — wear suitable clean protective clothing and handle appropriately to prevent cross contamination
Exclude ill staff — staff must report illnesses; exclude staff with vomiting or diarrhoea