Food deemed to be unsafe can contribute to a variety of diseases, from gastrointestinal issues to cancer. Food safety is a global public health concern, heavily impacting both developed and developing countries, it is vital to minimise contamination and associated outbreaks of disease. Therefore, the monitoring of food safety and the environment in which it is produced is crucial in maintaining a safe food production and supply process (1, 2).
Food safety measures need to be considered at a variety of stages, where the food is grown, by who, how it is transported, stored and how it is then sold to further businesses/consumers. This is a process that needs careful monitoring and management through set guidelines as food safety can impose a threat to human health and become a worldwide issue (2).
Figure 1: Key components of HACCP involved in the management of food safety (4).
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) are a set of principles used in the management of food safety. They help in risk assessments of food safety by identifying potential hazards, providing appropriate action guidelines in the event of an error, ensure standard procedures are developed and followed with proper recording and document control. These procedures can differ between businesses and they ensure food is safely produced, sold and fit to consume (3).
|Hazard Analysis||Identifying where hazards are most likely to occur and the highest risks, those which can be eliminated or contained by HACCP measures will be focused on.|
|Identifying Critical Control Points||
These are points where a hazard can be prevented, these can be highlighted to remove/minimise risk.
|Credit Limits||These limits are the maximum/minimum value of which biological; chemical or physical parameters can be controlled to prevent a food safety hazard from occurring.|
|Monitoring of Control Points||
Information such as how control points are measured, whom they are taken by, when they are taken and how frequently.
|Establishing What Actions Needed||
When things deviate from the norm, action must be taken to prevent/minimise hazards and to prevent this from happening in the future.
Any HACCP plans to be put into place must be reviewed regularly and audits conducted to ensure they remain appropriate.
The information must be kept proving that food has been produced in a safe manner which can be held accountable if anything goes wrong and to ensure procedures in place are functional
Table 1: Evaluation steps of food safety protocols. Adapted from reference (3,4,5)
A hazard is defined as something dangerous, in terms of food hazard this is something that could make food unsafe or unfit to consume. There are three main types of food safety hazards:
- Microbiological – this is when food becomes contaminated by a microorganism, it is the most common cause of food contamination.
- Chemical – food can become contaminated by a chemical substance. For example, cleaning products are capable of contaminating foods if not used properly. Chemical contamination can also occur during earlier stages when food is being grown due to the use of pesticides or fertilisers.
- Physical – foreign objects can contaminate food such as plastic or hair. This type of contamination can cause great harm to the consumer (6).
“Two main causes of foodborne illnesses addressed by the HACCP are poor hygiene processes and inadequate temperature control.” (7)
Temperature control inadequacy both when storing and serving raw or cooked products can result in serious adverse effects. Previously, monitoring of food safety involved constant monitoring of food storage conditions, like temperature. This involved recording the temperatures of supplied and prepared foods along with the completion of regular food hygiene checks. These checks were required to be conducted at regular intervals, usually by untrained employees in the relevant area of food hygiene.
Recent technologies have been developed involving smart wireless sensor-based systems which can be used in areas such as fridges. These provide continuous monitoring and recording of the temperature, humidity, and door status. Wireless handheld devices can be used in conjunction with these new systems to provide readings at regular intervals in a timely manner whilst reducing the risk of human error from physical readings. Temperature needs to be tightly regulated for food safety and as modern technology continues to advance, it can allow current technology to be used at a larger scale (7).
Access to enough food that is safe for consumption is important in maintaining good health and sustaining life. Contaminated food with viruses, bacteria, parasites, or chemical contaminants is unsafe and can cause hundreds of different diseases. It’s estimated around six hundred million people become ill after consuming contaminated food every year (8). Food safety is critical in ensuring that food is fit for consumption, however, there are challenges associated with food safety:
- Alterations in food production and supply chains can result in a higher level of imported foods.
- Environmental changes resulting in food contamination.
- New bacteria and increasing cases of antibiotic resistance.
- Consumer trends changing in both terms of preference and habits.
- Evolving tests are used to diagnose foodborne illnesses (9).
An outbreak of foodborne diseases can have a devastating economic impact on a business. Due to increasing demand in the food trade, businesses have expanded to cope with mounting pressures. However, this has resulted in an increase in the number of issues concerning food safety outbreaks, putting more pressure to have adequate preventative measures. Businesses have many reasons to ensure their products are fit for consumption including financial costs and reputation. Ensuring the business does not experience a significant financial loss resulting from lawsuits and associated legal costs as well as food recall costs. A reliable reputation will keep consumers happy and allow them to build good relations with whom they will be more inclined to purchase on a regular basis which will increase sales and build a well-developed, successful business (10).
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be nine billion people in the world to feed. Food safety faces many challenges in the world today and therefore ways to maximise the management of food safety are needed in a way that minimises costs, reduces waste, and fits around consumer needs.
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- Marušić A. Food safety and security: what were favourite topics for research in the last decade?. J Glob Health. 2011;1(1):72-78.
- Zeng, L., Peng, L., Wu, D. and Yang, B., 2018. Electrochemical Sensors for Food Safety. [online] Available at: <https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/64766>
- Food Standards Agency. 2017. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). [online] Available at: <https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/hazard-analysis-and-critical-control-point-haccp>
- Food Safe System. 2021. What is HACCP - Food Safe System. [online] Available at: <https://www.foodsafesystem.com/what-is-haccp/>
- UNL Food. The Seven Principles of HACCP. [online] Available at: <https://food.unl.edu/seven-principles-haccp>
- Collier, E., 2019. What Are The 4 Types Of Food Contamination?. [online] The Hub | High Speed Training. Available at: <https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/four-types-contamination/>
- Nash, M., 2013. | Food Safety. [online] Food-safety.com. Available at: <https://www.food-safety.com/articles/2488-wireless-technology-for-food-safety-monitoring>
- int. 2022. Food Safety. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/health-topics/food-safety>
- 2020. Challenges in Food Safety. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/challenges/index.html>
- Hussain MA, Dawson CO. Economic Impact of Food Safety Outbreaks on Food Businesses. Foods. 2013;2(4):585-589. Published 2013 Dec 12. doi:10.3390/foods2040585