Food Safety and Sanitation Practices Important at Every Step from Farm to Consumer
There are several stages to the food production process, and contamination can occur during any one of them. Contamination can usually be avoided through proper food safety protocols, but it's important to know how food can become contaminated in the first place.
- Contamination During Production
Even though the term "production" can refer to the entire process of producing food products from the time it is harvested or raised to the moment it is served to someone, but in this case we're using it to refer to the growing and raising of plants and animals. Contamination during this stage can occur if a diseased animal is slaughtered or if contaminated water is used to irrigate crops. Food that is found in the wild can also be contaminated if, for example, a diseased game animal is killed by a hunter or if a fish acquires a toxin from eating a smaller creature. Produce also must be cleaned thoroughly to remove any potentially hazardous chemicals, fertilizers, and insect and animal feces and urine.
- Contamination During Processing
Food processing means preparing raw meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables into something that we recognize as food. This includes slaughtering animals and butchering them into meat products, pasteurizing milk or making it into cheese, yogurt, or butter, peeling and roasting nuts, and washing fruits and vegetables. Food can become contaminated while it is being processed if contaminated water is used to wash vegetables or if germs from an animal's hide or intestines make it into meat products during the slaughtering process. Modern food production safety and plant safety protocols are in place to prevent this from happening.
- Contamination During Distribution
Contamination can also occur while food is being distributed from farms and processing plants to restaurants and grocery stores. Foods that need to be refrigerated can start to spoil if they are left at room temperature for too long, and fresh produce can be contaminated if they are shipped in a truck that was not properly cleaned after it was used to transport livestock or animal products.
- Contamination During Preparation
Food often becomes contaminated while it is being prepared for a meal. Workers who are preparing a meal might spread germs to the food if they don't wash their hands before handling it, fresh food may be stored in contaminated containers, and raw food can go too long without being properly refrigerated. At this point, most of the contamination that occurs is the fault of those preparing the food and not those producing and distributing it, but food products should be labeled so that it is handled properly.
Food Safety and Avoiding Contamination
Food contamination can occur very easily, so it is important that any workers who handle food products be properly trained in food production safety. They need to use the proper food sanitation supplies and cleaning equipment, and they need to report any potential safety issues as they see them. For more information about how you can better train and supply your own employees during the food production process, contact us today.