FOOD AND FOOD SAFETY
Food means “Any substance whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, which is intended for human consumption” (FSSAI). It includes primary food (except the produce in the hand of a farmer or a fisherman), genetically modified (GM) food or foods having genetic ingredients, infant food, packaged drinking water, alcoholic drink, and also the water used in food during manufacture or preparation. To ensure that food is not harmful for Humans consumption Food safety is required.
Food safety is a scientific discipline describing the handling, preparation, and storage of foods in ways that prevent food-borne illness. It gives the “Assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or consumed according to its intended use” (CAC). The track within this line of thought is the safety between industry and the market and between market and consumer. At top priority, food safety is the responsibility of every person who is involved in foodservice.
IMPORTANCE OF FOOD SAFETY
- Under food safety we identify hazards in food and use preventive measures to remove or minimize the hazard.
- Food safety provides the best quality of food as food undergoes processing in various steps, therefore there are fewer chances of food hazards.
- Food safety also helps in improving the health status of living beings, as food free from physical, chemical, and biological hazards is good for human health.
- Food safety helps in the long-term storage of food as it is stored under proper temperature and moisture as per the requirement.
- Food safety helps in maintaining the nutritional value of the food to be high, as food is stored in favorable conditions making a minimum loss in nutrients.
- Food safety also helps in preserving food stock for the future. Some time due to natural disasters like floods, tsunami, landslides, etc. there is a scarcity of food and at that time stored food may help in maintaining the supply line.
SCOPE OF FOOD SAFETY
- To provide an idea and vision about the nature of food production and the way this is going to be processed that includes all the Raw materials, utilities, manpower, environment, and other factors that are going to be assessed to get a safe end product.
- Identifying critical points in food processing and handling required for safe food production.
- Identification of food safety hazards by using the scientific method.
- Acquaint with the implementation of measures to control these hazards where significant better use of resources.
- Standardization of hazard management allowing for easier auditing and inspection.
FACTORS AFFECTING FOOD SAFETY
There are many factors in food safety like food systems, socio-cultural and ecological factors, the food chain. technology, nutritional aspects, and epidemiology that influence the multiplication and entry of pathogens and the formation of toxins in food. These can be discussed as follows:
1. Epidemiological Factors
Improve understanding of epidemiology (study of the distribution and determinants of health-related conditions or events in a defined population) provides the necessary scientific approach. for food safety. Changes in agricultural practices, food processing, packaging, and storage could facilitate microbial contamination and growth; hence food contamination can occur anywhere along the food chain. An understanding of these complex issues is needed, so that food safety strategies could be formulated.
2. Socio-cultural Factors
High probability of communicable diseases among young, old, and immune-compromised individuals, increased international travel, willingness to try new exotic cuisines, ingredients from different parts of the world, and transportation of raw and finished products are the main causes of food-borne diseases. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, the elderly, and the sick.
The major source of food-borne pathogens is contaminated raw food and ingredients. These then spread from raw to cooked food especially by inadequately cleaned utensils or equipment or hands.
3. Socio-economic Factors
The food safety risk is higher among low to medium-low socioeconomic status groups due to limited food safety knowledge, crowded homes, and smaller kitchens. The problems are more prevalent at small, independently owned outlets where many urban, low-income population shops or eat. Also, resources for maintaining safe food preparation and handling practices within the home are more limited among these populations. It has been observed that most of these people do not have access to quality potable water and are unable to refrigerate food after cooking. Food-borne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining the health care system and harming the national economy, tourism, and trade.
DANGERS OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS
The illness can be for an individual or for establishment:
(a) Individual: Foodborne illness is the greatest danger to food safety. It could result in illness or diseases to an individual that would affect their overall health, work, and personal lives.
- Loss of productivity and family income.
- Increased insurance.
- Medical expenses.
- Death or funeral expense.
(b) Establishment: Foodborne illness outbreak can cost an establishment thousands of rupees, it can even be the reason an establishment is forced to close.
- Loss of prestige and reputation including embarrassment.
- Lowered employee morale and absenteeism.
- Loss of customers and sales.
- Increase insurance premiums.
CENTRAL CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
‘Central Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is ‘An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and, for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith of Government of India. It came into existence to protect the consumer from exploitation that business practices make for-profits, which in turn harm the wellbeing of the consumer and society. Consumer protection bill 2018 has been cleared by the Parliament which replaced the three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and seeks to set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to ‘Promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers’. Salient features of the bill are as follow:
- Provisions of the Consumer Protection Act are compensatory in nature and covers all public, private and cooperative sector and applies to all the goods and services until and unless Union government exempts it.
- The bill pave way for a new form of class action suit, where the liability of manufacturers or service providers will not be limited to just one group of customers. Rather, it will take into account all customers who have been affected by a particular product of a company.
- As per the Bill, if any product causes injury, death, or any kind of physical damage to a consumer; all parties involved (manufacturer, producer, and seller) will be held accountable for the same. Action will be taken if there are defects in manufacturing or improper product labeling among other issues.
- The new Bill allows holding any celebrity or renowned individual misleading customers through false advertisements and make them accountable.
- The Bill also labels e-commerce firms as service providers, thus increasing liability in case of an error. Through the bill liability for e-commerce, firms are also set to increase, as they will now be forced to disclose details on how these firms treat consumer data.
- The new Bill also crackdowns on fake complaints by individuals against companies
Powers to remove difficulties
- The Bill seeks to provide Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions at national, state, and district levels to look into consumer complaints
- The Bill confers power on the Central government to appoint and remove members and provide conditions of service for members of the district, state, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
- Consumer Protection Councils will also be set up at the district, state, and national level, as advisory bodies. Consumer mediation cells will be set up on the same lines.
Read More Topics of the Same Course – ABT 5211 – Food Safety and Standards