What does food safety mean?
‘Food safety' means:
‘the guarantee that food will not adversely affect the health of the final consumer when prepared and eaten, taking into account the purpose and manner of its consumption.'
Food safety is often confused with quality. “Quality” means that a product meets the expectations of the user. Food safety is part of this, in addition to characteristics such as taste, smell, color and mouthfeel. However, food safety is a minimum requirement and is non-negotiable. On the other hand, the other quality standards are the result of concrete or non-concrete agreements between producer and buyer or consumer. in other words; a product can be quite safe and at the same time not really taste good, or look pale.
Forms of food safety
We can distinguish five forms of food safety:
1. (Mirco-)biological food safety
Micro-organisms are, for example, fungi, yeasts and bacteria. Most of the micro-organisms that we know are necessary to maintain our living environment. Only a minority is pathogenic or disease-causing. Contamination can occur during the production, storage, processing, sale or preparation of the food or its raw materials. But the contamination can also be present in or on crops or animals before they are harvested or slaughtered.
2. Chemical food safety
Foreign substances in our food can come from the environment or from the food production process itself. A distinction must be made between additives and contaminants. Additives are substances that are deliberately added to these foods for technical reasons during the manufacture, processing, preparation, handling, packaging, transport or storage of foodstuffs in order to meet the requirements that consumers place on these products. Examples are: preservatives, flavor enhancers, stabilizers, colorants, food acids, enzymes, antioxidants. The use and labeling of additives is regulated by law in the form of a so-called ‘positive' list. Contaminants, on the other hand, are substances that are not intentionally added to foods. These substances often end up in foodstuffs from the environment. Examples are crop protection products, veterinary medicines, but also dioxins from waste incineration plants.
3. Physical food safety
Physical contamination is caused by bits of metal, glass or plastic that can get into food. This contamination can happen during the harvest or during the production process. The food industry usually has very advanced detection equipment to detect and remove foreign objects.
4. Biotechnological food safety
For years, genetically modified organisms have not been allowed to simply be used for processing in food in the EU. Genetically modified organisms must first be assessed and found to be safe. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, or EFSA), based in Brussels, assesses whether genetically modified food is safe.
Our body is protected from infections by the immune system. It produces molecules called antibodies that can recognize germs that cause an infection. There are different types of antibodies. The antibody that causes an allergic reaction is the IgE. It is thought that IgE molecules are normally produced in response to infections from parasites, such as those that cause malaria. It is currently unclear why some people make IgE in response to other substances, such as pollen leading to hay fever and some foods leading to food allergies. The IgE acts like a label and sticks to molecules in food or pollen called allergens. If someone with a food allergy eats the wrong food, the IgE attaches to the allergen, triggering an allergic reaction. One of the most common effects that IgE causes is the release of histamine which causes the symptoms such as hives or wheezing. Allergens are mostly proteins and in general there are different types of allergens in every food. It is unknown why some proteins are allergens and others are not.
Guaranteeing food safety
Food safety can be guaranteed with HACCP. The system ensures that certain hazards are reduced. Assure yourself that food safety is in order within your company by following a HACCP course. With the HACCP certificate in
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