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Food Safety

Food safety and food hygiene are important as they ensure that the food you handle and produce is safe for consumption. If food safety and hygiene are not maintained, consumers can become seriously ill with food poisoning and foodborne illnesses.

What is food safety?

Essentially, it relates to a series of standards that measure the acceptability of a consumable item for sale. If both food safety and hygiene protocols are ignored, then foodstuffs may become contaminated and may result in disease. All players in in the food industry, from suppliers and manufacturers to retailers and other vendors have obligations, both moral and ethical, to ensure that food that is made available is suitable for consumption.

In South Africa, food safety in South Africa is regulated by various governmental bodies, including the Department of Health, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Benefits of food safety

When you ensure that your products are up to South African food safety standards, there are many additional benefits that come with it. For instance, the quality of your product will be better. This will increase confidence in your product and your brand reputation will improve and increase. Ultimately this can lead to improved sales.

Better food safety can also lead to longer shelf-life, less wastage, and improved efficiency.

Not abiding be food safety standards can have many consequences: the quality of your product can decrease and you could put people’s lives at risk. This can lead to loss of business and bad PR. There can even be fine or legal action.

Impact of Covid-19

Pre-pandemic, food safety was more about avoiding contamination and foodborne illness. This has now changed to include safety of workers and even consumers.

Here are a few ways that COVID-19 has impacted food safety:

Trend #1: Expanding the definition of cleanliness

Prior to COVID-19, many industries defined sanitation by how clean the manufacturing and processing equipment was. Sanitation requirements are evolving and being redefined to consider how well an environment can prevent the spread of pathogens. Some companies are considering new technologies such as UV sterilisation and progressive ways to sterilise airflow, which is especially critical to meatpacking plants.

Trend #2: More visible cleaning procedures

Historically, consumers rarely saw point-of-sale establishments being cleaned, unless perhaps they happened to be in the store or restaurant just prior to closing. During the pandemic, some businesses are intentionally making cleaning processes visible as a way to demonstrate their commitment to the health and safety of customers and employees. By building build consumer confidence, companies can gain a competitive edge.

Trend #3: Importance of cleaning protocols

With more frequent cleaning required, grocery stores and restaurants are relying more on front-line workers to perform tasks such as frequently wiping high-touch services like freezer door handles and restroom surfaces.

It is vital that the right products are used effectively to ensure safety for all. For example, cleaners for high touch surfaces typically cannot be used on food contact surfaces so it is important that there is no mixing of inappropriate chemicals.

Trend #4: Increased interest in automation

In a bid to avoid the risk of spreading the virus among workers or be forced to shutdown due to a virus outbreak, manufacturers are showing an increased interest in automating historically manual processes, for example, a leading international meat and poultry processor has automated deboning and chopping meat. In other instances, robotics is being used overnight in manufacturing to avoid employees overlap during shift changes.

While COVID-19 has created many challenges, it has also led to new safety ideas and innovations, which may even help reduce costs, control risk or improve competitive advantage for some businesses.

Chemgrit Food sources and supplies various ingredients for the baking and confectionary industry. For information contact Chemgrit Food.

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