Food is essential in human life, no lie, but unsafe food can cause more than 200 diseases, from simple things such as diarrhea to even bigger things such as cancer. According to the CDC, about 3,000 people die from foodborne diseases annually in the US.
With that in light, understanding what is the purpose of food safety management is prime for everyone. In recent years, organizational and individual movements have focused on living a healthy life and returning to the basics.
These movements directly and indirectly point to food management. One of the most complex topics that can be brought to any table is food. When food is on the table, it is vital to know what is behind the food. More than anything, food is the most crucial primary need; therefore, no one should question the purpose of food safety management because whether in rural or urban areas, food safety is the number one priority.
1. What is Food Safety Management?
It is the controlling or the organization of all the things that involve food safety. On the other hand, the food safety management system is the controlled process that ensures that all the food is of quality and up to standard before consumption. It deals with all food safety issues, risks, procedures, handling practices, and other food safety operations.
The government bodies regulate all the food safety processes in each country. Each country has its own government body which regulates food safety. This means that before any food has been distributed for human use, it has to be approved by that particular government body. Almost similar rules around the world guide most regulatory authorities.
2. What Are the Components of Food Safety Management?
Many things entail food safety management, and different people have different opinions on its components. However, proper food safety management requires the participation of everyone, including food handlers, suppliers, workers, and customers. Here is a look at the critical elements of food safety management.
2.1. Training and Education
Training and education are important elements of food safety management programs, among others. They help to align theory with practical application. However, they are not the only vital aspects, as the effectiveness of food safety management also depends on the design of training programs, understanding of human behavior, and organizational culture.
All staff involved in the food management system should understand the field in depth, have certificates, and, more importantly, have essential skills that allow them to operate in the food industry. The operation and smooth running of a food safety management system are solely in the hands of the operators. This means that the food management system will be affected if the staff does not receive the proper training or possess the required skills.
Training and education do not have limits; it is an ongoing process. New technologies come in every day, and fresh food safety management methods are introduced. With that in mind, business operators who run food processing companies must ensure that they stay up-to-date by continuously registering for different education and training booths as required.
2.2. Standard Operation Procedure (SOP)
There is no food management system without a standard operating procedure; this guides all the processes, food standards, and everything that must be done for successful food safety management. The purpose of standard operating procedure includes the following:
Consistency is the primary key to obtaining the same accurate results for all products. When there are standard procedures that everyone follows, it only means that everyone in any location can carry the same required procedures to obtain the same quality results for all products.
Operations with a standard standard allow people to have a clear picture of what should be done and what should not be done. Everything essential to food safety regulations is always on the SOP; as a result, there will be clarity in operations.
A standard operation procedure lays out everything in a clear picture of everything that has to be done, at what time, in what manner, and how it should be done. With the information given, all the staff members easily stay on track, and if something goes wrong, it is easy to spot where the mistake was made.
In any system, what will keep the system running effectively throughout all the staff members is communication among the staff. If there is a standard of operation, everyone will have one language concerning all the necessary food operations. In many ways, clear communication reduces the risk of errors in food safety systems.
2.2.5. Effective Training and Coaching
When new members join the food safety management team, they will not have to go through a lot of hardship in learning since there will be procedures laid out for them; they can easily recall procedures and learn what is supposed to be done. Standard operating procedures make it easy for both trainers and trainees. Food safety training is essential for both new and existing employees and should be done regularly.
2.2.6. Good Manufacturing Practices
The core of food safety management lies in manufacturing practices. The better the manufacturing practices, the more efficient the food safety system is. Every aspect of food safety is here, from manufacturing, labeling, transportation, storage, and everything else related to the food’s safety.
3. What are the Components of Good Manufacturing Practices?
Many things can be added to manufacturing, but five significant things should be noticed. They are called the 5 Ps of good manufacturing practice. The five central Ps are people, products, process, procedure, and premises. Once these components are observed, the products will be of high quality, purposeful, and able to meet the marketing standards.
The aspect of people includes all the staff who work in the food processing industry. All people should have enough training and skills in manufacturing and certificates that allow them to do what they do. All employees must know their roles and responsibilities as clearly as possible to reduce risks and ensure food safety management.
This begins at the production level. The raw materials must also be safe for the final product to be safe. All products must be manufactured under the standard operating procedures, inspection should be done at a reasonable interval, and all necessary testing for quality assurance must be carried out before being distributed to the consumers of the products.
Each step must be carefully done for every phase of production.
How things are done in the industry plays a significant role in food safety. All processes that are to be done must be clear, consistent, and accurate among all employees. Inspections must be conducted to see whether every employee adheres to all processes.
Guidelines are what ensure that there is consistency in the processing of foods. All the standards that are set for different procedures must be put into practice. If there is any deviation, it should be in the report so that responsible people can know how to correct and control a possible risk.
The area where all activities are done is a compassionate place. In many ways, the surroundings affect food safety; the safer the surroundings, the safer the food, and the unclean and unsafe the surroundings, the riskier the product.
All sanitation rules, waste disposal principles, and everything else must be followed. The products, equipment, and surroundings storage should be constantly monitored.
While bearing all the crucial aspects in mind, the principles of good manufacturing practice must be the priority. These principles include creating standard operating procedures, enforcing them, documentation procedures and processes, validating effectiveness, prioritizing quality, conducting regular audits, setting a system, preventing contamination, and ensuring job competence.
4. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP System)
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) are a systematic approach to evaluating, identifying, and managing food safety. A control point is any factor, be it physical or chemical, that can be altered, while a critical control point is a factor that needs alteration to prevent the occurrence of food safety hazards and ultimately to maintain food safety.
Food businesses must adhere to the HACCP plan, which is guided by seven principles;
- Conduct a hazard analysis.
- Determine critical control points.
- Establish critical limits
- Describe monitoring limits
- Corrective actions
- Determine verification procedures
- Good documentation and record-keeping.
4.1. Measures for Food Hazard Control and Prevention
There are four primary types of food hazards: biological, chemical, allergenic, and physical. Food handlers must keep food safety management systems in place to tackle food hazards. Here is a look at measures to put in place to minimize hazards.
4.1.1. Have a Program
A program sets a solid foundation on how to control hazards, corrective actions, and what to do to avoid them in the first place. These programs provide basic rules on the environment and conditions for food processing. All prerequisite programs should be put into documents and audited so companies stay updated with all trends in controlling food safety hazards.
4.1.2. Education and Training Programs
The success of hazard analysis lies in what employees know. Theoretical knowledge should be provided, and all employees must have certificates for different food safety training.
The qualifications of employees need to be improved; training camps and other educational programs should constantly be provided to the members to increase their knowledge of food manufacturing and food safety principles. Education and training also allow employees to adapt to technologies invented daily to manage the food supply chain.
4.1.3. Recruit a Team
After educating the employees, as a manager or the company owner, you need to develop a team that will be in charge and stand by for hazard analysis in your workplace.
The team members should be chosen based on their qualifications, experience, skills, and field of study. Having a team ready makes it easy to handle all the risks that can occur.
4.1.4. Develop a Hazard Control Plan
The plans developed for hazard analysis and critical control points will be different; they will vary depending on the product and the process involved.
Regardless of the product and the process, plans should be set and ready to be followed in case of any hazard or suspected risk. The plan should involve a description of the food product, the process, the use of the product, the distribution, and a flow diagram describing the whole process.
From here, the principles of a hazard analysis can be done: conduct a hazard analysis, identify the critical control points, establish required limits, and monitor procedures. The team will develop corrective action and verification processes if necessary changes occur.
4.1.5. Maintenance and Implementation
After carefully following all the procedures and making all the necessary changes, the team selected should monitor and maintain the new flow and corrections that are set to see if they will give the expected results and if more change is needed in the process.
Implementation will show how effective the strategies are and how well the team can handle any hazard. If there is any weakness in the implementation, it can be decided whether to change the plan for continual improvement, change the team members responsible, or adapt to new ways.
5. What is the Purpose of Food Safety Management
After looking into the details of the components of food safety management, what is the essence of all these procedures? Food safety management systems and all the components target the consumer.
Ultimately, it is essential that whatever humans ingest is safe for the body and will not cause any unexpected illness. There are numerous benefits of food management systems, which include;
5.1. Protect Consumers
As mentioned earlier, everything done in food safety management is for the sake of the targeted consumers. The brand reputation lies in the safety of the produced food, and the consumers’ health lies in the food’s safety.
Some companies are sued for putting consumers’ health at risk. Therefore, since the business is for the people, it is essential to consider this while manufacturing the food product. Food-related incidents can tarnish a business’s name.
5.2. Identify and Prevent Potential Hazards
Before a hazard happens, there are many things that manufacturers and team members do to ensure they do not occur. Many teams are set to ensure that everything manufactured will not put consumers at risk, especially food poisoning.
Regulation and monitoring are under intense and strict supervision, and above all, quality assurance processes are well supervised. If there are any threats to the product, a professional team is always on standby to counteract them and make them safe for consumption.
5.3. Build Brand Credibility
When people are assured that whatever they eat is safe, there are no customer complaints, and they have seen it over and over working for their good, they will trust the brand and are likelier to stay loyal to it.
Having a credible business allows a company to attract more customers and even maintain the ones that are there already. Improving brand credibility starts with working with skilled professionals in the field, having all the documentation, and getting approval from all necessary authorities in the region.
6. How to Improve Food Safety Management
For any business dealing with food, you must improve the existing food safety management systems. For instance, you can upgrade the monitoring systems.
Many other ways can be used to improve food safety; it all depends on the geographical location, the product, the process, and many other factors, but the primary ways are:
6.1. Regular Inspections and Continuous Improvement
The first and foremost important thing you can do for your products as a manufacturer, supervisor, or director in the food industry is to perform period inspections on the product, the staff, the work environment, the procedures, the process, and all essential elements of food safety.
Inspection allows one to know and be assured that all things are done at the right place with the right equipment, at the right time with the right people, and all these factors can guarantee food safety.
6.2. Temperature Control
When it comes to food, the most sensitive factor is always temperature. Food has different biological components, such as enzymes, which work at a specific temperature; when the temperature exceeds or is below the required line, it always risks food safety.
Therefore, one of the most important factors that should be paid extra attention to is the temperature in all stages of food management.
6.3. Microbiological or Chemical Analysis of Food Samples
Analysis of food samples allows the team to know how safe the food is and identify all the predicted risks or hazards. Food sample analysis can either be microbiological or chemical; these test results can give a lot of predictions that can guide the team in knowing how to keep the food in a safe state at all times.
7. What is A Digital Food Safety Management System?
The other name for a digital food safety management system is an intelligent food safety management system; it is an efficient way of ensuring all the matters regarding food safety are managed with digital devices. It has features like temperature control, record keeping, and a cloud-based point-of-sale system.
In this age, there is a digital solution for everything. Digitization of the food safety management system has a whole lot of advantages, which include the following:
7.1. Increase Efficiency
With an intelligent food management system, Efficiency is assured; human records and data have a lot of errors, and many things can happen at work that can affect records or the whole system. Digital food safety management system automatically records and relates all the vital factors, such as temperature.
A digital food management system has a lot of ways to help a company save money. Firstly, with this system, a purchase of the digital device software is made, and that device can be used for an extended period, meaning that one will not have to buy a device every month or year. Secondly, the number of employees or food handlers is reduced with a digital system, so one will only have to pay a few employees monthly.
7.3. Time Effective
Most actions in the digital system are automatic, there are few errors, and everything is done fast and at the time required. Human labor is often tiresome; when employees are tired or demotivated, the work will automatically be slow. Still, with digital devices, there is no shortage of staff. There is no demotivation, so there is operation throughout the working days.
Digital systems are more reliable than human or manual systems. With intelligent food safety management, you will avoid many errors, and more than anything, managers and coordinators can access the necessary information at any time. There are few cases of lost data regarding smart devices compared to manual recording and monitoring.
8. Risk Management in Food Safety
Business operators can never be too careful; sometimes, even when all the processes are under strict monitoring, some risks can pop up, which is why risk management strategies are vital. There are a few essential steps that are taken as far as risk management is concerned to minimize potential hazards. They include;
8.1. Risk Evaluation
Evaluation is the starting point for managing risks. Evaluation involves identifying the food safety problem first; it can be done through chemical or microbiology analysis, but researchers do it. After identification, the problem is classified and prioritized; some problems require immediate attention, and some can be slowly solved with time.
8.2. Risk Management Option
There is always a plan set by a team responsible for handling risks, so depending on the nature of the risk, there will be options that can work to sort out the problem at hand.
8.3. Implementation of the Option
The selected option must be implemented and monitored to see if it gives the expected results. If the chosen option does not work, the responsible team returns and picks another option.
8.4. Monitoring and Review
After applying the solution that has been given, there is a need to monitor the management solution, assess it, and review it to see if it meets the expected news. The reviews show how efficient the methodology chosen is.
The most vital industry in this world is the food industry; whatever investment is made in food services has a high guarantee of success. Food has always been and will always be needed compared to other basic needs.
The importation and exportation of food products have always and will always be there, as well as food processing and food consumption, so with all that said, a clever person should consider investing in food lines. As much as food preserves life, many dangers can be associated with it if food management systems are not monitored. Food gives life, and at the same time, it should be understood that foodborne illness can kill.
For this reason, it is best to have a comprehensive food management system from the manufacturing point right to the consumption phase. This will ensure food safety and quality and that all requirements are followed. Consumers also have the right and responsibility to understand what is the purpose of food safety management to them. Thus, we can ensure a foodborne-free illness and secure our future. Food safety is vital for maintaining a positive image and ensuring high-quality food.