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Food safety refers to a series of actions and practices undertaken at every stage (from farm to fork) to ensure that all food intended for human consumption is safe, helping to avoid serious foodborne illnesses.
All businesses involved in the food supply chain are required to adhere to a mix of local, national and international guidelines, policies and law governing food safety management.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is committed to food safety and chose this topic as the theme for the annual World Health Day 2015, which was celebrated on 2nd April.
Foodborne illnesses (also referred to as ‘food poisoning’ or ‘foodborne disease’) are fairly common and usually preventable.
The most common foodborne germs include Listeria, Norovirus, E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.
According to the Ministry of Health Malaysia, food poisoning cases have increased 22.7% in 2014 compared to 2013, making it one of the top communicable diseases with highest incidence and mortality rate.
The role of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations is to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Food safety plays a big role in helping the organisation meet these objectives. Appropriate food safety management along the food chain is just one of their focus areas. Learn more about food safety and quality at FAO.
The Codex Alimentarius (also known as the ‘Food Code’) is universally recognised as the global reference point for good food safety practices. It was the first to establish international food standards.
Recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the United Nations Resolution 39/248 back in 1985, today the Codex-based standards continue to be the key driver in ensuring food safety compliance with regulations.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a systematic approach to food safety to prevent contamination from biological, chemical, physical and radiological hazards.
All seven principles of HACCP are accepted by many government bodies and most businesses involved in the handling of food are required to develop a HACCP system to ensure compliance to food safety.
For free HACCP advice and updates visit haccpmentor.com.
Learn more about HACCP.
There are many education and training programmes available to ensure compliance to certain food safety standards.
For example, ISO 22 000 is an international standard that addresses food safety management. Any business in the food supply chain should be able to demonstrate adherence to this standard to assure consumers and auditors of food safety within the business.
Virtually every country in the world has its own mix of laws and regulations relating to food safety. Below is a list of a few international food safety legislation authorities by country:
• Australia — Food Standards Australia
• Canada — Canadian Food Inspection Agency
• United Kingdom — Food Standards Agency
• India — Food Safety Standards and Authority of India
• China — China Food and Drug Administration
• USA — FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
The implementation of food safety involves a complex mix of laws, standards and accepted good practices, involving governments, international organisations (e.g. WTO), industry organisations (e.g. GFSI, BRC), research agencies, independent standards bodies (e.g. BRC, IFS) and independent certification bodies. In Malaysia we have the Food Act 1983, Food Regulation 1985 and Food Hygiene Regulation 2009.
Read more about the food standards and regulations.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is led by the world’s food safety experts and international organisations, governments and academia who are all committed to developing guidance to inform the very best food safety management systems and practices along the entire food supply chain.
GFSI holds a regular Global Food Safety Conference around the world to ensure sharing of best practices, innovation and to maintain focus on food safety.