6 Reasons why Food Safety Audits are Important
Food safety has become a constant concern throughout the world. Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation and storage of food in ways to prevent food-borne illness. Food poisoning is any illness caused by eating food or drink that is contaminated with certain types of bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins.
It is estimated that foodborne illness affects around 4.1 million Australians each year, 31,920 hospitalisations and 86 deaths each year. Around thirty percent (30%) of these deaths are in aged care and hospital facilities. This is due to the vulnerable persons within these facilities they are at an increased risk and are affected by food poisoning more severely. Vulnerable populations are those over the aged of 65 years of age, pregnant women, children and people who are immune compromised.
In Australia it is a legal requirement that a food business, when receiving, storing, processing and displaying food take all practicable steps to protect food from the likelihood of contamination.
Safe Food Australia can assist businesses with food safety compliance, conducting food safety audits and conducting food safety refresher training. Safe Food Australia has food auditors in the major cities (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) and throughout country areas of NSW, VIC and QLD.
Safe Food Australia conducts Safe food audits in aged care, hospitals, food processors and other businesses wishing to comply with the Food Safety Standards.
How does food become contaminated?From unclean surfaces, juices from raw foods to cooked or ready to eat food, bacteria and viruses from food handlers not practicing good hygiene, jewellery and other personal items, dirt, grease and unclean work surfaces, unclean kitchen equipment and utensils, pests such as rodents, cockroaches and birds, glass metal and other materials from damaged equipment.
Tips to keep food safe;Ensure processes and procedures are in place for staff to follow and comply with the Food Safety Standards. Clean thoroughly and sanitise the work environment, equipment and utensils, store food safely, cold food should be stored ≤5°Celcius, frozen food should be stored so it remains hard frozen, cook food to temperatures to ensure the elimination of non-sporing pathogens (disease causing). Cooking temperature will differ between food products so the simplest method is cook to a temperature of 75°Celcius. Purchase your food and other products from a known supplier that can demonstrate compliance with the Food Safety Standards, make sure products are protected from contamination and received at a safe temperature, Cold food ≤5°Celcius, frozen food is hard frozen no signs of thawing.
Food storage; Store food as recommended by the manufacturer, store food on shelving, don’t store food on the floor, clean and sanitise your food storage areas on a regular basis. Remember bacteria don’t die in the fridge or coolroom and some bacteria can multiply under coolroom temperatures. Store food in food-grade containers, covered to prevent contamination. Store raw foods such as poultry, meat and seafood below and away from ready-to-eat food under temperature control to prevent contamination. Always store chemicals and cleaning equipment well away from food items, food packaging and food handling/processing areas to prevent contamination of the food.
Cleaning and sanitation;Cleaning in a food business is removing general dirt, grease and food waste that you can see. You must clean equipment, utensils or surface before sanitising them. Pre-clean by scaping or wiping food scraps off surfaces, rinse with water. Wash with hot water and detergent to remove grease and food residue, rinse off the detergent. Sanitising can be conducting by using boiling water (not just out the tap) or using a commercial sanitiser following the manufactures instructions. Sanitising reduces the level of bacteria to a safe level. You can then air-dry the surface or equipment or use a single use disposable cloth/paper towel.
Personal hygiene; Personal hygiene is all about people in food areas and handling food. A food handler must take all reasonable measure not to handle food or food surfaces in a way that is likely to compromise the safety and suitability of food. How do you comply with this requirement? Don’t work with food if you are sick or have symptoms of an illness such as vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat, fever or jaundice. Wash your hands effectively whenever they are likely to be a source of contamination, after using the toilet, smoking, coughing, sneezing, using a tissue, eating, drinking or touching the hair, scalp or body and before handling ready-to-eat food and after handling raw food. Food handlers must: not eat, sneeze, blow, cough, spit or smoke around food or food surfaces, take all practicable measures to prevent unnecessary contact with ready-to-eat food, Tie back long hair, and take all practical measures to prevent hair contaminating food, ensure clothing is clean, cover bandages and dressings on exposed parts of the body with a waterproof covering, remove loose jewellery and avoid wearing jewellery on hands and wrists.
Wash your hands using hot, soapy water and try them thoroughly with single-use paper towel.
Food businesses must; ensure food handlers do not handle food if there is a possibility of contamination, maintain easily accessible handwashing facilities and supplies of hot running water, soap and single-use paper towels, ensure all food handlers have appropriate skills and knowledge in food safety and food hygiene. This can be done either on-the job or via formal training.
Why is food safety culture important?
It doesn’t matter if you are an aged care facility, a hospital, a retail shop, a food processor or a stock feed mill you and your employees should have pride in producing and serving safe food all the time. A good quality and safe product will protect consumers from foodborne illness, your reputation and prevent your business from suffering from financial loss.
Food safety culture is how everyone thinks and acts in their daily job to make sure that the food is safe.
Food businesses must notify their customers, suppliers and local enforcement agency if they have to remove unsafe food from distribution, sale and consumption. Food businesses must be able to quickly remove food from the marketplace to protect public health and safety.
Food processors must have a recall procedure in place, it is also important that you conduct a mock recall on a regular basis to test if your recall system is effective.
Food is recalled because of a complaint or from the food business’s own testing and auditing.
A food recall can be implemented for the following reasons;
- Microbial contamination with pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms, viruses or parasites
- Undeclared allergen due to incorrect labelling
- Labelling not being compliant with the labelling standards
- Foreign matter such as glass, metal or plastic
- Chemicals such as cleaning products, pesticides or machine oil
- Packaging fault
- Biotoxin contamination such as histamine in fish and paralytic shellfish toxin in oysters
- An unsafe additives
Benefits of food safety
The implementation of safe food handling practices will benefit your food business. It will build on your reputation, your brand and increase your profit.
Food safety auditors can give you professional advice to enable you to improve your food handling practices and comply with the legislation.
Safe Food Australia can conduct regulatory food safety audits, we can develop a food safety or HACCP program to enable you to comply with food safety regulations and assist win identifying and managing your food safety hazards.