Assessing the discipline of food safety

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Food safety is a discipline describing of the proper way of handling, preparation and storage of food which will prevent food borne diseases. To achieve zero contamination of food, there should be proper hygiene adopted by all people handling food. This includes a number of steps that we people should follow so as to avoid contamination. Food can transmit disease as well it serves as a medium for bacterium to grow that can cause food poisoning. Therefore, food safety is of great importance to everyone. Improper handling of food can cause death. Mauritius has adopted Standards such as HACCP and many others so as to ensure food safety throughout the island.

1.2 Importance of food safety

Food safety is of great importance to the health of human beings. When you receive clean food at your table, you must imagine that this food has gone through a long process starting from those who manufactures it, those who do the transportation that is delivers the food to retailers and finally, the food is then purchased by clients. Therefore, while manufacturing those foods, industries should abide by certain standards so as to prevent contamination. Not abiding by those standards means a violation of the food law. However, more and more we are hearing incidents in Mauritius. Just recently one people died due to food poisoning. This is due through lack of proper hygiene. Therefore, to prevent all this, industries should abide by the standards provided else poisoning will increase enormously in Mauritius.

1.3 Issues that lead to development and implementation of food safety

Figure showing number of cases of food poisoning

(Source of diagram: )

Food safety has become an issue in the food industry. Food contamination is increasing day by day in Mauritius (figure above). Just recently (2011) one people died due to food poisoning (Marday Cake Shop) and many others got hospitalized and also another case is that of Kenturky Fried Chicken Company where Salmonella was detected. The reason for food poisoning is that there is no proper hygiene adopted by food industries and food handlers. The figure below shows a graph showing the number of contraventions relating to food hygiene for Mauritius.

Figure showing number of contraventions relating to food hygiene for Mauritius

(Source of diagram: )

However, the MSB has introduced Food Safety Scheme which is an effective way of controlling food safety hazards. Its objective is to give attention to companies that have a proper designed, planned, and implemented food safety management system meeting the requirements of ISO 22000 or HACCP. The scheme is for food industries to provide evidence of their ability to control food safety hazards.

Source of information: Mauritius Standard Bureau website:


Food safety has been dominated by bacteria. Cases of food poisonings are increasing by leaps and bounds in many countries. The background of food safety, its evolution till now is described below.


Food is essential for life and we people we have to take it in a proper manner. If we don't handle food in a proper manner, the food becomes contaminated and this can lead to illness and death.

We have foods which are toxic or poisonous by nature, while other foods have to be processed through long a process that is from the farm producer to the consumption point. While processing the food that is during the steps we have a great probability for contamination with physical, chemical or microbiological hazards. Food safety, same with food hygiene is whereby through processing, handling or preparation, the final product that is the food is safe to eat. The government also plays a key role in food safety. Laws should be passed so as to enforce food safety legislation. Medical support should also be done for treating the victims. Moreover, they should have proper records and be able to gather epidemiological and outbreak data and also makes use of inspection results. The information can be used as a helping guide to educate industry and consumers. The home also is a place where there are cases of food borne diseases; the latter also should have an important role so as to prevent self harm. Therefore consumers must handle food hygienically.


The history of food safety is as old as human story and food safety has started due to the recognition of foods that are toxic. Later on, human eating patterns, also the habits have changed; food safety has become more formalized. Ancient Israel laws make a point on food advice and foods which have to be avoided, also preparation methods and hygiene importance. In 2000 BC, book of Leviticus tells that Moses has introduced laws so as to protect people from food diseases. However, throughout history, UK being typical (table 1) has established laws to protect consumers.

Microorganism was discovered by Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, and initially it had little impact on the food safety. Commercial heat processing was started in the 1800s by Appert and later Pasteur combined with advances in medicine, heralded the golden age of food microbiology, which still exist today(table2). Some pathogens are linked to the names of famous microbiologists. An example is that of David E. Salmon, who studied on Cholera, had the bacterial genus Salmonella, which is a well known bacteria and has caused many cases of food poisoning. This applies also to Mauritius as in recent month's one people died due to Salmonella presence in food. Standard text was produced by Frazier in food microbiology, although the 1944 edition was of little information on food safety. In the forthcoming years, the 1956 edition, three new safety related chapters were introduced namely Food poisonings and Infections, Investigation of Food borne Disease Outbreaks and Microbiology of food plant Sanitation.




Food and Drugs Act


Food and Drugs (Amendment) Act


Food Act


Food Safety Act


Council Directive


Food Safety (general Food Hygiene) Regulations


Hygiene of Foodstuffs

Table 1: historical developments in UK food Safety legislation



One of the first food microbiology textbook.


Scott and Others

Food Processing/Microbiology


Baumann and others

Molecular Approach to Food Microbiology and drawn of the HACCP era previously unknown food borne pathogens- Campylobacter.

Table 2: Golden Age of food microbiology timeline


Several thousand years experience of food safety in combination with over 150 years of food microbiology and also latest molecular biology techniques, it might be a mistake to assume that food safety has been resolved. In fact, it is increasing by leaps and bounds with increasing reports of food borne diseases. Just recently, in Mauritius, KFC was blamed for his foods to contain Salmonella. Samples were analysed by Forensic Laboratory at Reduit and they came to a conclusion that Salmonella was detected. However, for Griffith and Redmond there is an increased report of food borne disease:

Due to microbiological hazards food borne disease is increasing alarmingly

Countries with reporting systems for food borne diseases have documented a huge number of cases (FAO/WHO)

Food borne illness with microbial pathogens, biotoxins and chemical contaminants have a serious impact to the health of billions of people in the world.

Furthermore, food safety problem has increased in developed and developing countries. Countries that have epidemiological data collection systems reported increased incidence of food borne diseases. Collection of data is very important so as to understand the nature and the extent of the problem. In Egypt, they only reported three cases per 100,000 populations whereas in Sweden reports were 5770. Due to better reporting and data collection, we are able to find the difference. There is a saying, "if you don't look, you won't find". In Egypt, people reported stomach upsets especially tourists after visiting holiday destinations. The reasons why food poisoning has increased in developing countries are listed below:

Patterns of food consumption have changed.

Incorrect use of new cooking equipment.

Varied cuisine (ethnic foods).

Change in shopping and cooking practices, they do weekly or monthly shopping rather than doing it daily.

Less processing and decrease use of preservatives.

Greater eating out was also contributing.

All of these contribute to high level of food borne diseases. Evolving pathogens with a low minimum dose are increasingly reported. This is shown in the figure below (figure 1).By reporting cases of Campylobacteriosis. Campylobacter is the most frequently recorded cause of bacterial food poisoning in the UK and also it many other countries.

Figure 1: Campylobacter incidence 1985-1998

However, strategic changes towards a preventive approach to food safety management started in 1920s. In 1970s an approach has been adopted, leading to the use of HACCP. Evidence has proved that businesses adopting Food Safety Management approach based on HACCP they are more liable to produce better quality food. Documentation of food explains how things should be done but what actually people do is a manifestation of food safety culture. This depends on the individual food handler's knowledge and practices with culture set by owner of the business. Food safety organizational culture is influenced by things such as facilities available (hand wash) and also time available to implement safe food practices.

Information Source:

Article: "Food Safety: Where from and where to"


"Farm-to-Fork" principle has been adopted by many countries to ensure food safety. Stakeholders are concerned to monitor safety and quality of foods and feeds within the food chain including primary producers, operators for food business, governmental also and the food regulators. To remain competitive in the world we have to demonstrate adequate national food controls established at production, processing and marketing stages.

Food laws controls safety and quality of foods and feeds. However, countries require internationally accepted food safety standards such as Codex Alimentarius Commission or ISO which stands for International Organization for Standardization. Standards and guidelines which are international may have benefits to ensure compliance with requirements specified by law and regulation.

Standards development in food sector has proved a change from detailed, compositional, commodity based known as "vertical" standards to "horizontal" food standards that put more emphasis on risk and hazard analysis throughout the food chain.

The Mauritius Standard Bureau (MSB) has therefore adopted several ISO deliverables, Codex documents, and foreign standards so as to support the "Farm-to-Fork" concept. These normative documents include:

MS 133:2003

Also known as HACCP

MS ISO 22000:2005

This is about food Safety management systems - Required for any organization in the food chain.

MS ISO/ TS 22003:2007

This is about food Safety management systems - It is for those who provides audits and certification of food management systems

MS ISO 22005:2007

This consists of the general principles and requirements for design and implementation.

MS ISO 22006:2008

For those applying ISO 9001:2000 for crop production.

MS 15161:2001

Application of ISO 9001:2000 for those concerning drink and food industry.

Information Source (Mauritian Context): Standard Watch - Magazine of the Mauritius Standard Bureau

2.5 Introduction of Food Act in Mauritius

Furthermore, the food Act was introduced in Mauritius in June 1998. The purpose of the food Act was to implement quality foods. "Food" in this Act means substances meant for human consumption, and substances intended for use as ingredients while preparing foods.

The Act also imposes some offences, like it is an offence to sell any food that are poisonous, that is containing things that is unfit for human consumption. Important part in the act is that the act gives the power to local authority officers to check food premises and also gives the authorization for seizure of food and emergency prohibition orders. Finally the act allows the ministry to issue regulations.


Governments have a compulsory role of protecting the health of each and every citizen which includes protection against food-borne illness. This is why standards are necessary. However, the role of the standards only comes into play if they are implemented through a properly and well functioned food control system. This needs elements such as good legislation in place, monitoring of food, surveillance and inspection. Food safety cannot be isolated from other risks, especially in developing countries which, include water-related risks. Unsafe water is not only just a risk by itself, but since water is used to irrigate, wash and process food, all these factors can lead to a cross contamination. For these reasons, food safety should be viewed throughout the whole food chain and not only the finished product and standard developed in both strategic and practical way on those specific points of high risk level. To achieve that, food-borne risks surveillance is a precondition.

3.1 Food Safety and Quality (FSQ)

The safety and quality of food has increased drastically, due to the higher concern consumers have for food-borne illness. Due to this, the importing, developing and the international food retailers are persistently trying to implement good agricultural practice, food safety management and also a traceability system. These requirements cover the whole food chain from farm to point to consumption of the food which involves farmers, transporters, processors, retailers and of course consumers. Both Quality control and a safe system of food safety need to be upgraded continuously since more contaminants are emerging. This is done due to the refinement in the systems and the different technologies available for their detection and treatment.

There have been several cases of Indian food exports being rejected /discarded and alerts were raised against them for unsafe colors, additives, the use of prohibited drugs, and other dangerous materials. A huge work has to be done, as India celebrates Food Safety & quality year. Building capacity and upgrading infrastructure responsibility will have to be shared by the Government and industry to reinforce the food chain. Once certain substances enter the food chain, they are practically impossible to remove or to reduce to an acceptable level and the only way of controlling such hazard, is at the starting point of food chain. The latest and most complete FSQ management system is the ISO 22000. Its main ability is the food safety hazards control and the communication of food safety information throughout the whole food chain. Emphasis is made on precondition programs-GAP, good manufacturing practices and hygiene etc. ISO 22000 ensures that manufacturers are in line to the legal requirements, assesses and meets all consumer requirements, that the system is evaluated and updated, including outsourced processes and thus give certification that food is safe at the time it is consumed.

Source of information: (

3.2 IFS Standard

Retailer's concern about food safety due to their direct responsibility in case of incident has given rise to the expansion of standardization of food safety standards and audit system. A third version of the IFS standard was released in 2003 which was developed by the German Retailed Federation (FCD). In January, the third version was redesigned into version 4 and launched with the help of the French Retailed Federation (FHD) and 2 years later the Italian Retail Federation showed its interest in the standard. A consultation exercise was launched at the end of 2005 by the IFS in order to plan for a fifth version of the standard which was later launched in August 2007 and its implementation was due to the first January 2008.

The Purpose of the IFS Standard Are:

Create a common standard with standardized evaluation systems

To work with accredited Certified Bodies

To make sure that there is clearness and comparison all over the entire supply chain.

In a reduction of time and cost factor for both suppliers and retailers.

Source of information: (

What the IFS standard covers

The IFS food standard main purpose is to audit both retailer and wholesaler food product manufacturers. The food standard is intended for companies who carry out such activities:


Managing of loose food products

Primary packaging activities

The way the IFS is set up corresponds to iso9001, but their main concern is still food safety.

3.3 HACCP Certification

HACCP (Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a risk management system whose purpose is the identification, evaluation and the control of hazards related to food safety throughout the food supply chain. HACCP may still be implemented as a totally separate risk management system, though all seven HACCP principles are found in the ISO 22000 standard..

The implementation of the HACCP program is a tool to control physical, biological and chemical risks during the whole operations. Such plan makes sure that every reasonable safety measure is being taken to assure food safety thus assuring regulating authorities and customers. It also helps in the reduction of contaminated-related food losses and the design of new food products is also improved.

HACCP plan principle:

Identification of the different food hazards and the risk control actions required

Identification of food safety Critical Control Points(CCPs)

Determine the critical limits for each single CCP

Establishing monitoring procedures for CCPs

Planning and taking appropriate corrective measures if ether critical limits are exceeded

Verifying the different procedures for the HACCP FSMS system

Keeping documentation and records for the HACCP FSMS System

Source of information: (

3.4 BRC's Global Standard for Food Safety

It was first developed by the British Retail Consortium. BRC's Global Standard for Food Safety was set up to establish a standard for the supply of food products and also a primary piece of fact for UK retailers and brand owners in case of prosecution by enforcement authorities.

The standard is being used and adopted all around the world, especially in organizations responsible to supply British retailers. Certification of the standard helps manufacturer, brand owner and also retails abide to the legal obligations and at the same time safeguarding the consumer. The standard covers all areas of product safety and legality and address part of the conscientiousness from both parties that is the supplier and retailer.

3.4.1 BRC's Global Standard for Packaging Materials

The BRC's Global Standard for Packaging Materials acts like a guide for both retailers and food manufacturers to be in line with legal requirements. The principles of the standard are:

To reduce replication of evaluation.

To ensure clearness and compliance with fair trading legislation.

To assess and improve standards and supporting processes on a continuous basis.

To encourage best practice

3.5 ISO 9000

The ISO 9000 set of standards are in relation to quality management system and they were designed as an aid for organizations to ensure they meet the required needs of. The worldwide adoption of ISO 9001 is due to several factors. One of these is that suppliers should be an ISO 9001 certified. Studies have also proved considerable financial profits for organizations which are certified to ISO 9001. Corbett et al showed that there was a superior profit for organizations which are certified compared to same organizations which are not certified. Heras et al studies result was the same and proved that this was statistically noteworthy and was not due to the size of the organization. Naveh and Marcus on their part demonstrated that ISO 9001 lead to better operational performance. Rajan and Tamini proposed that shareholders were richly remunerated for the investment in the ISO 9001certification due to better stock market performance.

While relationship between higher financial performance and ISO 9001 may be distinguish from above, there is however no evidence of direct causation though studies carried out by Corbett et al may propose it. The methods for improving results have also been subjected to all kind of research. With ISO 9001, Lo et al spotted operational improvements, such as a reduction in the recycle time, inventory, etc.

3.6 ISO 22000 Being certificated ISO 22000 will provide consumers confidence to your products.ISO 22000, with help of international consensus, bring into line the requirements for methodically managing food chain and propose a unique solution for good practice on an international basis.

Source of information:


4.1 Benefits of HACCP

HACCP enables the business in having processes and procedures that have a clear definition due to its application. At the same time, the confidence of customers can be improved due to the fact that the environment in which food operations are carried out, are controlled and that the food system is effectively applied and implemented.

HACCP also covers all features of the production of food such as raw materials, processes, distribution of food products, the sale to the consumption of the food products and beyond. It also enables the company to adopt an approach that is more preventive in order to lessen product losses.

Applying the HACCP system, enables the management to show that they are committed in producing and supplying products that are safe and within environments that make it easier to produce and supply food that are safe.

It also helps in improving the relationships between organisations in the food chain, the customers and the enforcement agencies. Furthermore, keeping of records facilitate the activities of inspection by food inspectors and shows them how serious a firm is in abiding with the laws that deal with food safety. Adopting HACCP system can provide a defence in legal matters involving an outbreak of food borne diseases, since HACCP based system has the management tools that are the most effective in the food industry. Approaches that are HACCP based provide trading opportunities to companies who want to meet customer and legal requirements whether local or for international market. Moreover, combining food safety management systems that are HACCP based, with other management systems such as ISO 9001:2000 can offer an approach to the analysis of hazards with progammes that are pre-requisite having a framework to manage a food safety system.

4.2 Benefits of FSQ

The FSQ enables a decrease in the number of incidence of unsafe food that are reaching the marketplace through the methods that are proven and used in the food industry. It was designed for supporting brand products from the food industry. Through the FSQ, the suppliers and their customers are given advantages at all stages of the supply in the food chain.

4.3 Benefits of BRC

BRC helps retailers and brand owners by providing a legal defense, in case they are pursued by the enforcement authorities.

4.4 Benefits of ISO 9000

It focuses on the continual improvement by forcing an organization to concentrate on the way the organization does business, therefore each procedure and instruction must be documented. It also helps in improving efficiency as a result of variation elimination through processes that are documented thus enabling the reduction of cost of quality. The problems about quality are solved by company-wide solutions which are also permanent, due to the development of stringent measures that are corrective and preventive.

On the other hand, employee morale is enhanced as they are given the opportunity to have control on their processes and document their work activities.

ISO 9000 also enables a reactive organization to be transformed into an organization that is pro-active and preventive and which contributes to increase in the satisfaction of customers, therefore becoming a company people want to do business with.

Since ISO 9000 allows improvement of processes that are continuous, this results in better products and services. Also, profit levels are improved due to improvement in productivity and also due to reduced costs of rework. Furthermore, the improvement of quality, efficiency, on time delivery and customer/supplier relations is achieved through communications that are improved both internally and externally.

4.5 Benefits of ISO 22000

ISO 22000 are standards/specifications on which suppliers can base the development of their products due to its wide acceptance in their sectors and this in turn means that businesses adopting ISO 22000 are more free to compete on many more markets around the world. However, it also provides customers with the full assurance that quality, safety and reliability are ensured and that the products and services are conforming to international standards.

ISO 22000 also contribute to the improvement of quality of life in general by making sure that the production of food are being done safely, by decreasing incidence of food borne diseases, by improving quality and jobs that are more safe in food industry, through better use of resources, by improving the efficiency of validation and documentation of techniques, methods and procedures, by increasing profits and by providing scope for economic growth and development is increased.

4.6 Benefits of IFS

IFS enable the demonstration of being committed to the supply of a food product that is safer in quality. It helps in a sense to make sure that the legal and regulatory requirements are being met. The ability of supplying retailers with product assurance that are recognized internationally is enhanced by IFS. The liability to risks and recalls of product are minimized due to IFS support in enhancing the safety aspect of the product. Since it uses one standard that is uniform, the costs of both external and internal audits can be reduced. Also, IFS certification can play a role in enhancing the reputation of the company as well as its corporate image and brand.


The cross matrix table below shows a comparison of the benefits of each of the four main food standards.

Benefits of Standard


ISO 22000



Process Base System




Enhance Consumer Confidence

Management Responsibility



Risk Management



Relationship Improvement






Legal Protection

Trading Benefit



Food Safety


Covering Quality, hygiene &Product Safety

Reduction of Internal &External Audit Cost



Enhance Brand Image



This symbol represents that the standard has the mentioned benefit.

Table analysis

According to the table, it can easily be noticed that HACCP and ISO 22000 have the same and more benefits than the BRC and IFS and this is so, since HACCP principles are followed in the ISO 22000 requirements. BRC and IFS show some similarities to HACCP and ISO 22000, in terms of having some similar benefits. BRC and IFS also enhances customer confidence, provide legal protection, takes quality, hygiene and product safety into consideration and allow reduction of audit costs just like HACCP and ISO 22000 does. It can also be shown that IFS also takes food safety into consideration and promotes brand image as compared to BRC. Therefore, it can be concluded that adopting HACCP and ISO 22000 would be more beneficial.


In the Mauritius Standard Bureau (National Management System Certification Scheme) Regulation 2008:

Regulation 8

(1) An authorised officer may, at any reasonable time, enter the premises of a registered firm for the purpose of conducting an assessment.


(2) The Director may require the payment of an assessment fee as specified in the Third Schedule for the purpose of conducting an assessment under paragraph (1).

An authorised officer is defined in the Mauritius Standard Bureau Act 1993 in the interpretation section as an employee of the MSB. Of course, we are talking after an organization has been granted of a certification. The authorised officer has the right to enter the workplace at any reasonable time for the conduction an assessment. This assessment is an inspections of the working system related to the certification registered. The assessment include the inspections of the raw materials used, finished products, the methodology, method of testing, taking samples of any materials and substance used, the procedures, the policies, any document related to the process and also the right to examine, made copies or take extracts any document needed. This is the power of the authorized officer and the purpose of that power is to ensure that the organization is in compliance.

Therefore, to ensure compliance of the certification during the 3 years of validity, the organization has to audit his management system before certified, during the 3 years (once yearly) and at the end of the 3 years of validity. And in the case of food safety, it will be the auditing of the Food Safety Management System (FSMS).


The food safety management system audit is a management techniques used to evaluate the strength and weakness of the management system. It is ideally carried out annually and it must be critically analyzed from the management policy to the finished product, to any activity or documentation related.

The appraisal of the whole organization food safety program will not only demonstrate the effectiveness of the program but will also provide the organization its goals and objectives. Therefore it will provide a direction to the organization towards improvement.


There are two types of audits internal and external. The internal audits are similar to external audits in the way that they are both reviewing the processes of the system in that case the food system. The main different is that the internal auditors are an employees of the organization whereas the external auditors are not part of the organization. The internal auditors are more focus on control procedures and improvement whereas an external auditor will be more prone to see the limitations of the systems.


An auditor is a person that is suitable and competent enough to perform an audit. There are three types of auditors; the first party auditor, the second party auditor and the third party auditor. The first party auditors are persons employed by the organization to perform the internal audits. The second party auditors are persons employed by the government and the third party auditors are private bodies which are not connected to the government.

Examples of third party auditors: International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA), SGS in Mauritius, BSI group.


The audit may be also performed in team. The audit team is composed of a group of selected persons to perform the audit. It generally contains an internal auditor, external auditor and a technical expert. The technical expert will perform the same role of an auditor, in fact he or she will be an auditor but for a more specific area or process or tasks. This would be in the case of an external audit where the internal auditor will be here to assist and to help the external auditor.


External audit is the evaluation of the system by a company or agency, and they will provide the organization with an unbiased result of the evaluation. There opinion is unbiased since they are outside individuals that are performing this audit. External audits have an important role in developing the effectiveness of the organization system such as the internal control. They provide a statistical analysis and trend of the organization regarding their policies, their current achievements, current goals and about their future aims and objectives. They can give their recommendations to improve the systems through discussions in the audit committee or in the final report.

The only limitation of the auditor will be by the legislation under which it audits. But that tools provides the evidence that the environment where the food is produced is safe and that the organization are fully aware of the food safety hazards present and that the control measures are appropriate and effective. The benefits of providing a proof of food safety systems attract more customers since it provide them more confidence and market access.

Source of information:$File/nat-food-safety-aud-pol.pdf


Food safety is very important since the health of people might be endangered. Very often, mass food contamination and recalls are reported or published in the news. Those incidences play a great role in tarnishing the image of some food manufacturing factories. Such facts lay an emphasis on the need to have a proper food management system in the food industry which can be achieved through the implementation of food standards requirements. In order to achieve a safer food production and supply, companies should adhere to food laws since this concerns the quality of life of populations.