Food safety has always been at the forefront of global concerns; governments and international organisations are continually on the lookout for better and more effective food safety control measures.
This concern primarily stems from the fact that inadequate food safety can lead to significant public health crises, resulting in the loss of precious human lives. The WHO estimates the death toll from contaminated food to be around 420 000 every year. These are lives that could’ve been saved by employing better food safety control methods.
In order to make effective food safety control a reality, it’s essential to ask a few questions and hope that the information from the answers can help us generate and employ better food safety control strategies.
What Is Food Safety Exactly?
Food safety is an umbrella term covering concerns regarding handling, preparing, storing, and serving food. From the inception of the food to the moment it reaches your palate, measures have to be taken to ensure that it stays fresh and free from bacteria. This is to ensure that the risk of foodborne illnesses is significantly reduced.
Some food safety measures typically implemented include cleaning and sanitising all the equipment, surfaces, and containers used to handle food items. The staff is also usually trained to maintain a high level of environmental and personal hygiene.
Additionally, food has to be properly stored for it to last longer and remain fresh by the time it reaches the end of the supply chain. Correct chilling, heating, and storing methods can be highly useful for this purpose. Knowledge of the food item itself, the ideal temperatures, environment, and weather repercussions are all important factors to be considered.
Food allergies and intolerance are also important aspects of food safety that need to be taken into account as food allergies are fairly common, especially in infants.
Who’s at The Greatest Risk?
In general, contaminated food can cause health problems in the healthiest of individuals, but statistics show that certain groups can be more exposed and succumb to the effects of foodborne illnesses very easily.
Those at a greater risk of contracting foodborne illnesses are children, especially infants, aged four and younger. Countless scientific research studies show a high occurrence of infections from foodborne pathogens in this particular age group.
Foodborne infections can usually be treated with antibiotics in children, but foodborne illnesses can look very different for those who’re 50 and above. Several factors can reduce immunity in people, and one of the primary factors is age and the chronic illnesses that may come with it. For most individuals in this age group, reduced immunity is a serious concern that gives way to foodborne pathogens’ destructive effects.
In older adults, these intestinal pathogens very often lead to hospitalisation and even death.
Why Is It A Turning Point in The Food Industry in Terms of Food Safety Control?
The world is currently experiencing a pandemic, and things have been different for more than a year now. And at the beginning of these bizarre times, there was a lot of unawareness, doubt and scepticism. This made people unsure about how to go about their daily lives and practices.
However, as time went by, health regulation authorities confirmed that there is no evidence to suggest that the consumption of food or certain kinds of foods could be directly associated with COVID-19. But it is worth noting that while the possibility of contracted COVID-19 from food or its packaging is pretty low, it is not non-existent.
Additionally, COVID-19 and its many variants, both discovered and undiscovered, are extremely new for science. There’s a lot we don’t know, so it’s a good practice to be on guard and do as much as possible to protect you and your loved ones from contracting the virus.
This is why there is an added emphasis on food safety methods during the last few months, especially in handling and packaging food items.
How Is Food Safety Being Handled?
Food safety is affected by several factors, including an increase in food-related trade, retail practices, distribution, climate and weather conditions. The supply chain is no longer direct; the food may have come straight from the farm to your fork in older days, but now the supply chain is a little more elaborate.
This means that food safety must be a priority at every stage, from the initial preparation, packaging, storage, transportation to cooking and serving.
Here are a few ways businesses are being innovative at each of these stages’ to ensure better food safety control management.
Smart or Intelligent Packaging
Packaging plays a very important role in making sure that a food item is protected from physical, chemical, and microbial contamination. In many ways, it acts as the first line of defence. Therefore, any packaging undertaken should help to promote the shelf life of a product.
To extend shelf life, methods are employed to improve the sensory properties of certain kinds of food by giving them the ideal microenvironment within the packaging using gas composition and controlling humidity levels. Intelligent packaging is an emerging trend and is becoming widely popular in the food and beverage industry.
Food storage is a particularly challenging phenomenon with the changing consumer trends like the increasing demand for fresh or mildly preserved foods and the online ordering system. These changes have led to distribution and storage challenges.
Storage is often the most vulnerable stage in the supply chain, where the food could get spoiled or contaminated very easily. Temperature control and physical handling are all critical measures at this stage.
Storage options differ depending on the type and of food. Some foods have to be stored for very short periods while others are stored for a longer time with sophisticated preservation techniques in modified and highly controlled temperatures.
There are constant efforts being made to improve the warehousing facilities. This is done mainly in two ways. Firstly, the staff is specially trained to handle the food in the best ways possible, keeping high regard for hygiene.
Secondly, technology is employed to handle food where possible. This helps to achieve two main things. Firstly, it’s much faster and more efficient than using human effort for certain difficult tasks like loading and unloading. Secondly, it helps to minimise physical contact with the food, thus reducing the chances of contamination through contact.
Transportation is a recurring activity that is seen throughout the supply chain. For instance, farm products are typically harvested or, in the case of cattle, transported to slaughterhouses. Then the meat is transported to be processed at a factory.
After being preserved and packaged, it will be transported to a warehouse and eventually be shipped or transported to a local store or restaurant. Besides adequate packaging, elaborate measures are now taken to ensure that the food remains safe throughout its various journeys.
This includes everything from sanitising vehicles to minimal direct physical contact with the food and speeding up the journeys to reduce the time frame where the food could be exposed to various elements.
Why Is Food Safety Important?
There are 5.4 million cases of foodborne illnesses in Australia every year. And the responsibility for food safety in Australia largely lies with businesses. It is upon them to ensure that the food they are serving is handled and stored properly and is safe to consume.
Because not only is the loss of human lives a huge concern but the burden that foodborne illnesses place on the public health system is also a significant problem that has to be considered, especially because it’s preventable with a little extra care.
For this purpose, there are countless guidelines outlined by governmental and other international bodies to ensure that a proper standard is followed in the preparation, storage and handling of the food. And every measure is taken in line with these standard guidelines to combat the challenges of food safety control.
Invest in An Online Order Management Software to Ensure Food Safety
A major challenge when it comes to food safety control is the short window between the supply and demand for food and the effort it takes to ensure that food is delivered on time with minimal wastes.
This makes it hard for small business to keep track of different food orders. And this is true for both suppliers and retailers. A lack of supply could result in losing a customer, whereas a surplus could mean wastages and losses, which is why an online ordering system is ideal for small businesses.
An online order management system can help a business track its orders at various stages in the production process. By having all the controls in the palm of your hand, you can keep a closer eye on things while ensuring that the quality of your services remains top-notch.
We suggest you use OrderTron! It is a complete Order Management System for small businesses that will streamline the entire process, ensuring there are no compromises on food safety protocol when it comes to your business.
As a modern tech solution for your business, OrderTron is able to record important things like the batch ID, as well as production and expiry dates, and records every specific batch dispatched for order. This handy recall feature helps to ensure food safety and freshness.
Call +61 2 8599 8830 today to learn more about our order management app’s features and pricing!