The disease is part of the natural order of things and is nature’s way of maintaining balance. But for humans, it’s a factor that can’t be ignored. With the population thriving, letting nature take its course means having to deal with illnesses that can take on epidemic and pandemic proportions.
Food-borne diseases are not as widespread in developed countries due to the implementation of strict safety practices like HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). However, this doesn’t mean that bacteria and viruses are not waiting for a chance to do damage. Therefore, it’s vital that safety continues to be a top priority even in the face of political instability and natural calamities.
HACCP has come to be recognized as a global standard for food safety. The World Health Organization has acknowledged its importance in helping control food-borne diseases. It focuses on multiple points of food production and processing so that finished products are deemed safe. This is a much more effective way of maintaining quality rather than focusing solely on the inspection of finished goods.
One of the more attractive features of HACCP is that it can be applied to all stages of the food chain right from the act of fishing, for instance, to storing, packing, shipping and marketing. The system itself is regulated by several national bodies where meat, fish, juice, etc are taken care of by specific food industries. This allows more time and effort to be dedicated to each control point and offsets the load laid on anyone’s inspection body.
All food industries, whether small or large, have an obligation to stakeholders, consumers and the environment to ensure that foodborne diseases are kept under control and not allowed to become health hazards. The seven principles of HACCP help with this.
- Hazard analysis: Where a plan is laid to identify food safety hazards and the measures that can be taken to mitigate them. These hazards may be physical, biological or chemical in nature which can cause food to be unsafe for human consumption.
- Identification of critical control points: Where control or actions can be taken during the production process to prevent or eliminate threats such that they’re brought down to acceptable levels.
- Establishing limits for critical control points: Where limits are set such that hazards are deemed acceptable so that food safety is not compromised. The principle is closely related to the second principle of identifying critical control points.
- Establishing monitoring procedures for critical control points: Where monitoring requirements are met at every critical control point to ensure finished products pass a bill of safety. The use of tools to check food quality is common.
- Establishing correction actions: Where efforts are taken to bring the production process to an acceptable level if any deviation from critical limits is found to have occurred during any stage. This means amending problems before they’re allowed to be a danger once they’re ready for commerce.
- Establishing verification procedures: Where checks are conducted to ensure that critical limits and control points in the production process meet and pass the standards set by HACCP. Sampling and tests are examples of how verification is undertaken.
- Record keeping: Where written HACCP plans, hazard analysis and records of critical control points, among others, are maintained. This helps government bodies to assess and verify how well food industries have complied with the guidelines and standards set by HACCP.