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Food safety issues are as old as mankind and since time primeval humans have developed procedures to ensure that the food they eat does not harm them. To produce food with any new technology, there must be appropriate armament to protect human health.
There exist few written records, but it is plausible to assume that, historically, the safety of new products of food was established by experiment.
The foods consumed today are generally viewed as safe, based on their long history of such safe use. It is worth noting that this general acceptance of historical safety does not necessarily mean that some conventional foods may not cause detrimental health effects under some circumstances.
“With the world’s growing population, the provision of a safe, nutritious and wholesome food supply for all has become a major challenge. “
From the Encyclopedia of Food Safety
The purpose of this report is to inform the Managing Director Quality Foods Co. LTD that after the last Safety and Health committee, there have been several complaints from the staffs regarding health and safety in the company. And also upon investigation it was concluded that there was the need for proper supervision and a safety measure for the health of the employees and consumers. This report will provide recommendations that need to be implemented and also it will also inform the Managing Director the importance of compliance with OSHA 2005.
“We have to change our food management system culture”….
Established in 1991, Food Quality Co. LTD is one of the leading traders of cheese making in Mauritius.
Our industry processes, imports, refines and markets a wide range of home-ground and imported food ingredients especially cheese. We serve household consumers with packaged, branded, with high quality of cheese products and have over 100 employers.
Objectives of our company:
a. Serving Customers
- Improve contract performances
- Maximize customer service
- Improve food management system.
- Be the top leading industry in Mauritius for cheese making.
b. Food Ingredients
Our customers in the Mauritian food service industry are increasingly improving their products to address changing consumer preferences. Our ingredients’ portfolio includes:
Cultures & Mold Powders : Mesophilic, thermophilic, buttermilk, chevre, creme fraiche, flora danica, fresh, fromage blanc, fromagina, keifer, sour cream, propionic, yogurts.
Rennets : Animal, vegetable, tablets, liquid and powder
Additives : Salt, citric acid, tartaric acid, calcium chloride, lipase, herbs, ash, coloring
- Main concern
Recently, it was found that during the final stage of cheese making, some milk products were already contaminated and it was found to be from cow to table.
There were some cases of food allergy (poisoning) and the demand for this our cheese has been reduced.
To come forward to this problem and its solution we must all understand the aspect of food safety and management system.
- Hazard associated with our food ingredients
Our employers are exposed to several types of hazards during their 8-hr working period.
Such hazards include:
- Ergonomics hazards
- Chemical hazards, and
- Physical hazards
But the main risk was found to be microbial hazard since our milk was contaminated and in turn our cheese products were infected too.
Storage and Transfer of Raw Milk: Any time the milk is transferred or stored; all equipment and containers must be sterile to prevent contamination. The storage temperature must be low enough (usually 4 degrees Celsius) to keep any bacteria remaining in the milk from growing.
Sources can include:
- Food handlers
- Raw food and water
- Insects, rodents, animals and birds
- From the environment.
- Root of the problem: Processing and production of cheese
a. Preparing the milk – the problem was found during this stage, where the milk was already contaminated leading to microbial infections of the cheese products.
b. Separating the curds from the whey – in any common cheese-making operation, the first step is preparing the milk. Our industry do not import any pasteurized milk. Instead we prepare the milk from our farm cows and must add bacteria culture to produce the lactic acid. Curds must be separated from the whey, animal or vegetable rennet is added, and then the curds are agitated and cut using large knives. As the whey separates, it is drained. The curds are then pressed into molds, if necessary, to facilitate further moisture drainage, and aged for the proper amount of time from the whey, but they are more typically left alone. When separation is complete, the whey is drained.
c. Pressing the curds – moisture must then be removed from the curds, although the amount removed depends on the type of cheese. Here, they are pressed to give the proper shape and size.
d. Ageing the cheese – at this stage the cheese may be injected with a flavoring mold, bathed in brine, or wrapped in cloth or hay before being deposited in a place of the proper temperature and humidity to age. Some cheeses are aged for a month, some for up to years, followed by the wrapping stage of cheese.
- Controlling the hazards – simple ways for our food handlers.
Solution and Recommendation
Milk contamination may occur from:
- Cow feces coming into direct contact with the milk
- Cow diseases (e.g., bovine tuberculosis)
- Bacteria that live on the skin of cows
- Environment (e.g., feces, dirt, processing equipment)
- Insects, rodents, and other animal vectors
Small numbers of bacteria might multiply and grow in the milk before someone drinks it if it is raw.Thus, our employees in the food handling department must be well aware of the dangers of bacterial contamination.
Keep the workspace clean:
- Follow the simple strategy: ‘clean as you go policy’
- Carry out a cleaning task of work surfaces and the surrounding work area as everything must be visually clean and trim.
- Return all unused raw materials to the correct storage area as soon as possible
- Return unused items to their initial storage area.
b) Keep tools, utensils and equipment in good order, in a sterile state and stored correctly tools, utensils, and equipment require to be cleaned immediately after use, and MAINTAIN WORKPLACE FOOD SAFETY codes/ standards
c) Keep ingredients and products separate and in their assigned places separate storage areas for raw and cooked foods.
2 Work in a way that keeps food safe
a) Dispose of food waste and
b) Avoid product contamination and cross-contamination at all stages of processing operations by maintaining good personal hygiene by using correct color-coded equipment by storing raw materials and finished products correctly at all stages of the process
- By keeping the floors in your work area clean
- By keeping work surfaces and equipment clean
- By preventing pest infestation
General Precautions for our company
- Importing of food ingredients
- Storing (employers dealing with food ingredients )
- People taking care of the preparation department, must be aware of the temperature danger zone
- Take special care with high-risk foods
- Store food in the fridge
- Freeze food safely.
- Store cooked food safely.
- Store raw food separately from cooked food.
- Choose strong, innocuous food storage containers.
- If in doubt, throw it out: Throw out high-risk food left in the temperature danger zone for more than four hours – don’t put it in the fridge and don’t keep it for later. Check the use-by dates on food products and discard out-of-date food. If you are uncertain of the use-by date, throw it out.
- Personal hygiene
This is an obligation that our food industry has to their clients and the general public.
The most important things our food handlers need to know and understand are that they must:
- Do whatever is reasonable preventing their body; anything from their body or anything they are wearing, coming into contact with food.
- Do whatever is necessary to stop unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food.
- Wear clean outer clothing, (depending on the type of work they do).
- Not eat over unprotected food or surfaces likely to come in contact with food.
- Not sneeze, blow or cough over unprotected food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food.
- Not to spit, smoke or use tobacco where food is handled and
- Not to urinate or to defecate except in a toilet
- If you injured yourself, make sure to control the wound. Clean it and put a water proof blue plaster and immediately use disposable gloves.
Food safety law, requirements and its application
- Food safety – the beginning and the final stage
Are our products that have been used from beginning to final stage, safe for human consumption?
Our company kept growing since 1991. Just because of the contaminated milk, the demand for our cheese products is being reduced in market and this is going to be detrimental to our company’s future. Therefore, food safety regulations are applied to each stage in food production, from processing and manufacture to distribution.
The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) provides the scheme for all food legislation –as applies in Mauritius too.
The main responsibilities for all food businesses under the Act are:
- To ensure you do not include anything in food except necessary requirements.
- Remove anything from food or treat food in any way which means it would be damaging to the health of people eating it to ensure that the food you serve or sell is of the nature, substance or quality which consumers would expect to ensure that the food is labeled, advertised and presented in a way that is not false or misleading
“Producing safe food is paramount to our business’s success….”
- Food quality – requirements of the law
Are the products produced, met with the requirements specified and designed by the law? Food qualityis the quality characteristics of food that is admissible to consumers. Food quality is an important food manufacturing requirement, because food consumers are vulnerable to any form of spoliation that may occur during themanufacturing process.
Factors contributing towards quality of food:
- Nutritional value
- Contaminants (Physical, Chemical & Microbiological)
HACCPis a management system in which food safety is superscribed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, acquisition and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.
A food safety program must be developed in our company to ensure safe sale of food products. The benefit of this food safety program would systematically identify the food safety hazards that are likely to occur in our food handling operations and also provide a systematic monitoring process based on our food business.
This table shows food poisoning trend from 1990 to 2011 in Mauritius.
This table shows the “reported cases” of food poisoning in Mauritius.
Reported food poisoning
- Training effectiveness
For our company not to meet with failings with health and safety, the health and safety department must contribute to a lucrative business in the view of a better and healthy work ahead.
The safety of our food depend largely our food handlers.
However malpractices have been reported on numerous occasions resulting in food poisoning outbreaks. Therefore it is essential that food handlers are properly trained so that they take the necessary precautions to avoid such accidents.
Training of managers, supervisors and all people who can influence the safety of food is essential to reduce the unacceptable high levels of food contamination.
Improvement of food safety knowledge and practices of employee is through food safety training.
- Possible impacts
- Failing to comply with food safety control plan – The promotion of food safety, including by assisting food premises to handle food safely, remains a key priority under theFood Act. To complement this educative approach, councils have a range of enforcement options, including the ability to issue infringement notices for certain food safety or hygiene offences. The infringement notices make it easier for councils to administer, investigate and enforce the Food Act. Councils also have the authority to focus enforcement efforts on food premises which pose a greater risk to public health because of non-compliance with the Food Act.
Any employee may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards and as a result:
- Involvement – Ministry of Health and Quality of life.
- Consequence – Company closes and earns a bad reputation.
- End result – workers go unemployed and company locked.
Radical and beneficial changes occurred in the food industry in today’s world.
Although consumers are increasingly aware of the connection between food and health, they tend to take the safety of the food they eat very much for granted.
Food safety is best ensured by the shared responsibility of everybody involved with food from the professional to the consumer. All along the food chain, various procedures and good practices are implemented to ensure that the food which reaches the consumer’s table is fit for utilization.
The risks of food contamination are minimized so that the population as a whole is healthier from the benefits of safe quality food. But responsibility for food safety should not only be the priority of professionals in the food industry. There are rules and conduct to guide the professionals and the consumer is coequally responsible in order to ensure the safety of food at home.
The best way to practice food safety is to be well-informed about the basics of food:
- Natural processes and
- The hazards to food from bacteria – inside the premised or those coming from the environment.
Consumers have a right to expect that the foods they purchase and consume will be safe and of high quality. They have a right to voice their notions about the food control strategies, standards and actions that governments and our industry use to establish that the food supply has these tendencies.
- Mr. S. Jason
- Mrs. R. Roberta
- Mr. Canny
- Mr. Colet Max
- Miss Soogun Kawthur
- Quality foods Co. LTD
- Food safety journals
- Quality foods Co. LTD – www.qualityfoods.com
- Ministry of Health and Quality of Life – http://ncb.intnet.mu/moh/
- Health Officers – http://ncb.intnet.mu/moh/
- Food safety journals – online websites
- Microbiology department of Victoria Hospital
- Health and Safety department of University of Mauritius – www.uom.mu
- MSB ( Mauritius Standard Bureau)
- Food Safety act 1990
- Food Safety Regulations 1999
- CSO (2000). Digest of agricultural statistics. Central Statistical office, Port-Louis, Mauritius
- FSA (2000). The Food Standards Agency.
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