Why Is Food Safety Important?

Food safety is one of the most important parts of running a restaurant, catering company, or any other food service establishment. Health inspectors make sure that everything is up to code and safe for people to eat. If you're a chef, it's your responsibility to know what foods are allowed in your area and how long they can be stored before they go bad.  Most team leaders should understand and be able to explain what makes handling and processing unsafe. But food safety should not be treated as common sense; a facility can only reach it through procedures, training, and constant monitoring. The consequences of improper food safety can be far-reaching and jeopardize the health of consumers.

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    Why Food Safety Is Important In The Food Industry

    Food safety is crucial to protect consumers from health risks related to common allergens and foodborne illnesses. In and of itself, this is a good enough goal to reach using proper processing and handling procedures, but there are other reasons, too. Safe food products shield companies and stakeholders from costly penalties and legal action. Fines and legal consequences could close down a facility and even bankrupt a company.

    Facilities can achieve sufficient food safety measures by providing training and education to everyone who handles ingredients in a food business. Carefully following these measures is essential to the protection of your customers from food poisoning, allergic reactions, and other health risks that can result from contaminated food.

    What Factors Affect Food Safety?

    Many factors affect the processing of safe food, and these factors span the entire process from picking to processing to packaging. These include agricultural practices, worker practices, the use of preventive controls during processing and preparation of the food, the use of the chemical materials, how close raw ingredients and water are to each other, and storage.

    At every stage, hygiene is the necessary component for proper standards. The hygienic quality of the product can be negatively impacted by poor storage, storing raw and cooked foods together, and when ingredients are prepared, cooked and stored using incorrect methods.

    Why Is Food Safety A Public Health Issue?

    Foodborne illnesses are an underreported public health issue. These illnesses, sometimes called food poisoning, can be a burden on public health. An estimated 4 million Canadians contract a foodborne illness every year, though many of these problems go unreported. While the majority of people handle these health problems with relative ease, around 11,000 of them end up in the hospital, and more than 200 people die each year as a result of foodborne illnesses. 

    More serious and immediate problems are allergens. Each year, about 3,500 Canadians are hospitalized for anaphylactic shock related to food allergens. Research shows that most of these allergic reactions occur outside the home, which makes it a larger problem for restaurants than for food processors. However, making consumers aware of the potential for a food product's contact with allergens is necessary.

    Facilities that prepare and handle food can make foodborne illnesses and allergen cross-contamination preventable by following specific guidelines to their processes and by bringing in third-party companies to assess their food safety procedures. Having systems and methods that protect food is incredibly important.

    What Foodborne Illnesses Can Be Caused By Improper Food Safety?

    Consumers can be made aware of the potential for allergens to come into contact with the product; foodborne illnesses, however, are always accidental. They occur when a food is contaminated with harmful microorganisms, and the most common of these are pathogenic bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Foods that have the potential to carry these bacteria must be handled, cleaned, and cooked properly, with the surfaces and utensils that come into contact with them disinfected. Other potential risks come when viruses like noroviruses and Hepatitis A come into contact with the food.

    The symptoms of a foodborne illness include nausea, stomach pain or cramping, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, headaches, and fever. The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the type of bacterial or viral infection and the health of the consumer.

    What Is The Importance Of Food Safety Procedures?

    The only way to ensure the sale of safe food and the prevention of food poisoning is ensuring that everyone who handles and works in the facility understands the food safety procedures in their facility. They must understand how food can become contaminated in the first place, the different types of food contamination, and which foods are high-risk (raw meat and poultry, unwashed vegetables, etc.).

    The procedures must explain to everyone how to safely store, refrigerate, thaw, and prepare food, how to effectively clean and sanitize surfaces, equipment, and utensils, and understand why personal hygiene and appropriate workplace behaviour are necessary for food safety, too.

    While the principles are the same, food safety procedures are not the same for every company. You must have a system that is customized to the size and layout of the facility, the type of ingredients handled, stored, and processed, and the final food product. A solution designed for your company starts with a third-party GAP assessment of your processes to see the weaknesses on which you can improve. Quantum Food Solutions has experts with a wealth of knowledge who can conduct a GAP assessment for your facility.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Food Safety

    It is important to have food safety knowledge for a number of reasons. Firstly, it can be the difference between illness and health; in some cases, the difference between life and death. Secondly, it will help you to avoid legal troubles when selling your products or making food for others.

    Food safety and hygiene are important because they protect one of the most essential aspects of life: food. Food is a basic human need, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that there is enough to go around for everyone. Food-borne illnesses can be fatal, so we should all try our best not to get sick from eating contaminated or spoiled food. It’s also important to clean up after ourselves when preparing food in order to avoid cross contamination with other foods.

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