Food is something everyone needs, every day and any substance taken into the body for the purpose of providing nourishment. The important issues are how it is produced and who controls it. 1 However, factors such as satisfying social needs, achieving psychological ends, and satisfying hunger, more than nutritional needs, govern the selection and consumption of foods. When foods are selected carefully, they can provide all of the essential nutrients needed for normal functioning of the human body. In this context, food is necessary to provide energy, to provide structural components for building and repairing body tissues, and to regulate body processes. But the way that it is processed and marketed can have a big effect on health and economics too. In some parts of the world, a lack of access to food is the tragedy.
Food security is defined as physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs.2 Food safety is an integral part of food security and is defined as protecting the food supply from microbial, chemical and physical hazards that may occur during all stages of food production, including growing, harvesting, processing, transporting, retailing, distributing, preparing, storing and consumption, in order to prevent foodborne illnesses.
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The majority of Mauritians are only concerned with satisfying hunger and do not give due attention to the safety of food.
Bacteria, parasites and viruses are the major causative agents of foodborne disease in our country. Foodborne zoonotic diseases and chemical contamination of food from pesticides and veterinary drug residues are also of concern. There are multiple sources of contamination from the environment, and contaminants could enter food during production, harvest, storage, retailing and preparation for consumption.
It is imperative that food safety remain a concern in all situations in order to derive maximum benefit from even the little available food. Strong political will and relevant food safety systems are essential from production to consumption. Resolution AFR/RC53/R5 of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, urging countries to strengthen food safety programmes, was endorsed in 2003; since then, many countries have initiated activities to improve food safety.3
This strategy of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on food safety consolidates past gains and provides a framework for protecting public health and economic development through reduction of the burden of foodborne diseases.4
Unsafe food not only results in ill-health but also has economic consequences due to absenteeism, hospital fees and international trade losses.
Preparation, protection, sale and consumption of street foods in inappropriate places are on the increase. Street foods are sources of nourishment and income for the urban poor. Some street foods are microbiologically safe and provide alternative sources of safe food. However, the hygiene of most street food is substandard due to incorrect handling as well as lack of sanitation, running water, washing facilities, refrigeration and disinfection. Washing of hands is rare, and food is often exposed to flies and other insects. The preparation of food well in advance of consumption and manual food preparation were additional risks factors. Certain cold foods, such as salads, meats and sauces, when sold at ambient temperature, have the greatest potential for disease transmission.
Almost all foods are of plant or animal origin. However water and salt (both inorganic substances) are important parts of the human diet. Salt is often eaten as a flavoring or preservative.
Other foods not from animal or plant sources include various edible fungi, such mushrooms.
Our food is carefully sourced and our aim is to use seasonal fresh produce and free range meats as far as possible. A wide range of valued suppliers have been built up over time and feel our relationship with them shows through in our Edible creations thus making consumable food safe for consumers.
Food quality is the quality characteristics of food that is acceptable to consumers. This includes external factors as appearance (size, shape, colour, gloss, and consistency), texture, and flavour; factors such as federal grade and internal (chemical, physical, microbial).
Food quality is enforced by the Food Safety Act 1998 in Mauritius legislation. Food quality is an important food manufacturing requirement, because food consumers are susceptible to any form of contamination that may occur during the manufacturing process. Many consumers also rely on manufacturing and processing standards, particularly to know what ingredients are present, due to dietary, nutritional requirements (halal or vegetarian), or medical conditions (example; diabetes, or allergies).
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Besides ingredient quality, there are also sanitation requirements. It is important to ensure that the food processing environment is as clean as possible in order to produce the safest possible food for the consumer. Food quality also deals with product traceability, e.g. of ingredient and packaging suppliers, should a recall of the product be required. It also deals with labeling issues to ensure there is correct ingredient and nutritional information.
Food Safety and implementation of HACCP
The need for a good safety system is because of the customer pressure, the regulatory requirements and the desire for self improvement.
A food safety policy is the commitment towards effective food safety management. A manifestation of this commitment is to provide a framework against which the organisation can be evaluated. There is two important parts in this policy; the management commitment and the Food safety policy.
In the management commitment, the food safety is supported by the business objectives of the company and also conducting management reviews.
The top management needs to ensure that the food safety policy is communicated, implemented and maintained at all levels of the organisation.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) - A system used to identify hazards associated with a food product and to ensure control is established at critical points in the processing and/or handling of that product.
The different HACCP programme is to identify specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. Another programme is the establishment of control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying on end product testing. The HACCP programme can be applied throughout the food chain from primary production to the final consumption.
The health hazards in Milk processing
Various stages in milk processing chain have to be under control to ensure quality and safety of milk and its products. The safety of dairy products is an issue of interest to all consumers.
The principal hazards:-
Raw milk as secreted by healthy cows are free of micro-organisms, most of the bacteria present in raw milk are contaminants from the outside (soil, bedding, milking equipment). Variety of pathogenic bacteria has been isolated from raw milk: Mycobacterium spp, Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, S.aureus.
Spoilage of pasteurised milk products are caused by the growth and enzyme production by psychotrophs before pasteurisation.The activity of thermo-resistant enzymes. There is also the post pasteurisation contamination via equipment.
Microbial spoilage may occur by outgrowth of spores surviving heat processing or by post process contamination or failure of heat process. Typical spoilage organisms include Bacillus species, Streptococcus, Micrococcus. Gelation and coagulation of milk proteins and off flavour formation may also occur. Some degree of contamination of raw milk is inevitable.
At all stages, good hygiene is necessary to ensure that product stream. The pasteurisation equipments should be properly designed, installed, maintained and operated. The development of biofilms depends on type of micro-organism, type of product processed, operating conditions and type of surfaces.
Biofilms also threaten the quality and safety of dairy products. Pathogenic micro-organisms include L.monoctygenes, S.typhimurium, Y.enterocolitica.
Monitoring and control
The personal hygiene of all the workers in the farm should be monitored and thus regular check up should be made. According to the HACCP system, the use of microbiological methods needed to assess the quality of raw materials, detect micro-organisms in process lines and also the validation and verification of the different process made. All the apparatus used must be constructed in order to afford full protection to milk from any risk of contamination. Accurate daily records are kept about the quantity, quality and nature of milk received and processed at the plant. There is a strict maintenance of temperature at which milk will be stored and prevent any contamination.
Everyday there are large amount of chicken which are slaughtered, so any failure in the system will affect the quality of the flesh, thus sanitary conditions should be well implemented. The meat processing and rendering industry includes the slaughter of animals and fowl, processing of the carcasses into cured, canned, and other meat products, and the rendering of inedible and discarded remains into useful by-products such as lards and oils.7
Process of fresh product
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Weighting: - occurs at farm, to know the actual weight of the chicken and it's done in the early morning before slaughtering.
Hanging vertically: - This step is done to prevent any cross contamination if the intestine is ruptured, thus microbes from the intestine gets into contact with other parts of the body.
Stunning part: - An electric shock of 14.5v is given to the animal thus making it in a subconscious state. The chicken neck is slaughtered. There is a complete bleeding for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Scalding process: - A tank with water at 680C is used to place the chicken in it. The chicken is cleaned and its organ removed. Then the picking and the singering process is done. The chicken is washed in cold water. The animal's feet are removed and then chill wash in chlorinated water at 80C. This is the best temperature for chlorine to work thus preventing multiplication of micro organisms and bacteria.
Packaging room: - The chicken after being process can be put into packaging and kept at -200C.
An animal can look healthy but inside it might be ill. Lots of diseases are discovered through symptoms. Meat Inspection will help to know where the source of infections and the reasons is. Mean inspection is divided in two parts, Ante Mortem and Post Mortem.
The decision of the fitness of meat for human consumption is a complex and serious activity, with numerous and various implications of public health. Some have implications of a legal, ethical or commercial nature. The judgment part of the fitness of the mean should be made ban an Official Veterinary Surgeon (OVS), thus related decision should be taken if he is confident that the information obtained after inspection is sufficient for an appropriate decision; otherwise he should seek for more information, example; further examinations, deeper laboratory test and maybe some expert opinion about the matter. During the process, the Official Veterinary Surgeon should not be put under undue pressure from interested parties. The decision making should be systematic. There are no clearly written guidelines covering all situations; instead the Official Veterinary Surgeon has overall responsibility for the decision whether or not meat is fit for human consumption. In the case of inspection at abattoirs, the system is normally well set up, but in other situations (e.g. on-farm), there may be no normal inspection system operating. Incorrect inspection and approval of unfit meat could have extremely serious consequences for a number of people purchasing and consuming the product.
All animals species are routinely examined, some examples are; there state of nutrition, age, local or general oedema, abnormal colour, odour or taste, any deformity, any other abnormality and signs of specific diseases.
The meat industry has the potential for generating large quantities of solid wastes and wastewater with a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). The amounts of wastewater generated and the pollutant load depend on the kind of meat being processed. The wastewater may be at a high temperature and may contain organic material and nitrogen, as well as such pathogens as salmonella and shigella bacteria, parasite eggs, and amoebic cysts. Pesticide residues may be present from treatment of animals or their feed. The only significant solid waste going for disposal is the manure from animal transport and handling areas.
Process Water use
Meat processing 2-60
Table 1 Typical Water Usage in the
(Cubic meters per metric ton of product)
Pollution Prevention and control
Separation of product from wastes at each stage is essential for maximizing product recovery and reducing waste loads. The materials being handled are all putrescible; hence, cleanliness is essential. Water management should achieve the necessary cleanliness without waste. The amounts and strength of wastes can be reduced by good practices such as dry removal of solid wastes and installation of screens on wastewater collection channels. In-plant measures that can be used to reduce the odor nuisance and the generation of solid and liquid wastes from the production processes include the following:
Minimize water consumed in production by, for example, using taps with automatic shutoff, using high water pressure, and improving the process layout.
Optimize the use of detergents and disinfectants in washing water.
Isolate and ventilate all sources of odorous emissions. Oxidants such as nitrates can be added to wastes to reduce odor.
Minimize the stock of raw material and store it in a cold, closed, well-ventilated place.
Keep all working and storage areas clean.
Data obtained by the Ministry of health
National food control activities conducted by the ministry of health has given the following results
Total no. of premises inspected 97,589
Total no. of Notices served 5,265
Total no. of Improvement Notices served 696
Total no. of Statement of Nuisances served 686
Total no. of prohibition orders served up to 28.10.09 107
No. of complaints attended 4,445
Contraventions up to 28.10.09
Total no. of Contraventions 524
Environmental Sanitation 32
Food hygiene/safety 492
Total no. of sampling taken 3,293
No. of premarket Approval Permits issued: 179
Seizure of foodstuffs September 08 to date >850 tons
Recent seizure 02 December 2009 Rs 1 M of chocolate/sweets/biscuits
Public Health - Food Safety
The following measures were taken by the government these recent years:
Setting up of a Central Flying Squad in October 2008
Period: January - October 2009
85, 841 visits of food premises and outlets
Issue of 63 Prohibition Orders and 421 contraventions
Seizure of 850 tons of foodstuffs unfit for human consumption