Food safety describes the techniques involved in the preparation and storage of foodstuffs to prevent the occurrence of diseases (Redman 22). The techniques act as the basis of industrial and market regulations observed when handling food (Walsch 31).
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In America, basic food handling practices revolve around labeling, pesticide residues, additives, and hygiene. Biotechnology issues are also taken into consideration when importing and exporting food to ensure that it is fit for human consumption. It has been found that food-associated poisoning can be averted.
Failure to observe food safety measures can cause health problems. Pathogens in food result in health problems in the short run due to poisoning. In severe cases, it may result in death. In other cases, the severity of the poisoning may be low and cause minor health complications. However, pesticides residues and inappropriate biotechnology used in the production of food may lead to long term effects on the health of an individual (Walsch 31).
Principles of Food Safety
Food can transmit a number of diseases from one individual to another. Foodstuff provided to the public should not expose them to any risks (Edinger 9). Food products are rich in nutrients required for microbial growth. Microbial growth results in food poisoning. The poisoning may occur in two forms.
It may take place as a result of ingesting the bacteria. Bacterial infection in the digestive may result in foodborne diseases, such as diarrhea. Microbial contamination can cause poisoning through the ingestion of toxins. Some microbes, such as clostridium, release toxins that lead to serious health problems. Some of the toxins find their way into the bloodstream after absorption in the digestive tract. Absorption of toxins, such as aflatoxin, may lead to toxemia.
To avoid these health problems, a number of food safety principles must be observed. Various systems have been developed to ensure that the principles are adhered to. One such system is the Hazard Control and Critical Control Point [HACCP] (Edinger 9). The framework involves a number of principles that involve the analysis of hazards and food safety issues. It also involves establishing limits for control points and setting up monitoring procedures.
Different organizations adopt varying food safety procedures. An example of such a framework is the one developed by the World Health Organization. Prevention of food contamination with pathogens originating from pets, pests, and humans is one of the basic ideologies of food safety (Shearer, Snider, and Kniel 2).
Food contamination can be prevented through proper packaging and storage. Persons coming into contact with food should observe hygiene to prevent the transfer of pathogens. Foodstuffs should also be kept away from pets. Pets, such as dogs and cats, harbor a number of pathogens on their body. Their fur provides an environment that is conducive for the growth of pathogens.
Separation of cooked and raw food is another basic principle of safety. Heat treatment is one of the techniques used to kill bacteria and other contaminants (Edinger 9). Heating food under high temperatures is referred to as sterilization. Raw food contains live pathogens. Re-infection may occur when raw and cooked foods are stored together.
Such re-infections may lead to food poisoning. There are instances where it is not possible to store cooked and uncooked foods separately. In such cases, sealed containers should be used for storage. Uncooked food, such as vegetables, should be thoroughly cleaned before storage. Contaminants contained in raw food increase the rate of spoilage.
Food should be cooked under high temperature. It is the only food that is safe for human consumption that should be allowed into the market (Redman 22). Adequate time should be provided to ensure that the pathogens and their spores are killed (Edinger 9). Some of the pathogens are resistant to heat. Food processing plants should ensure that the technology used provides enough heat to destroy.
Processing techniques, such as canning, involve heating food under high temperatures to kill bacteria, including those that are heat resistant. Heat treatment for canned foods involves subjecting the products to temperatures exceeding 1160 centigrade. The temperatures are strong enough to destroy pathogens and their spores.
The destruction slows down the rate of food spoilage. In the event that the amount of heat applied is not strong enough to kill all the pathogens, the spores start to grow as soon as the right conditions set in. Soon, the microbes multiply and cause food poisoning.
Food should be stored under the right conditions. Cool and dry conditions are not favorable to the growth of bacteria and other pathogens. Microbes require a moist environment for them to proliferate. Water acts as a medium for the growth of these microbes (Edinger 9). Low temperatures discourage multiplication of bacteria. Growth of bacteria is normally inhibited by reducing the enzyme activity in the microbes.
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The realization that low temperatures slow down the growth of microbes and the process of food spoilage led to the invention of refrigeration. High temperatures activate the microbes’ enzymes. As a result, their growth rate is increased. Food that is stored in high temperatures is likely to spoil fast as a result of increased microbial activity.
Only cooked food and clean water should be ingested. It is advisable to treat water with disinfectants to kill disease-causing microbes. It can also be boiled to kill pathogens. It is known to harbor a variety of microbes. The microbial population present in water depends on its source. The source and quality of water should be well known.
Consumption of liquids from unknown sources is often discouraged (Redman 22). Where the situation is unavoidable, the water should be treated or boiled. However, it is worth noting that boiling does not kill all the pathogens. In addition, it does not destroy the bacterial spores completely.
Food Borne Diseases
Food should be protected from contamination. Failure to observe food safety-related laws constitutes a violation of the law (Cain, 278). It is also important that food products are properly labeled to avoid cases of allergies. The manufacturer of food substances should disclose the ingredients that they have used (Peng 72).
Foodborne disease is the situation that occurs following the consumption of food that has been contaminated with bacteria, viruses, natural and manufactured chemicals present in foods or even parasites. Foodborne diseases can also be caused by pathogens. Such organisms generate toxins that poison the body. Cases of foodborne diseases are also commonly referred to as food poisoning. Food-related illnesses are often characterized by fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as aching body parts, especially the abdominal region.
Salmonellosis is one of the most common foodborne illnesses. The disease emanates from Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lining of the gut. The illness is characterized by vomiting, nausea, severe abdominal pains, and diarrhea. The bacteria are usually present in the fecal matter generated by human beings, domestic, and wild animals. The bacteria are commonly found in meat and eggs. A number of procedures can be used to avoid such illnesses.
For example, high temperatures should be used in food preparation. Consumers should also buy and consume pasteurized milk and milk products only. Persons involved in the preparation of food should maintain hygiene by washing hands after visiting the toilet and also when handling uncooked food during the preparation. Consumption of uncooked egg products should also be discouraged. Proper food storage of food practices should also be observed (Peng 72).
Shigellosis is an intestinal disorder caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The condition is associated with symptoms, such as fever, cramps, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, patients may be diagnosed through the presence of blood on the feces. The disease is spread through the ingestion of food and water that is contaminated with the bacteria.
Failure to observe hygiene can also cause the disease (Cain, 278). The disease can be controlled through proper disposal of human waste. Hands should also be thoroughly washed after visiting the toilets and prior to handling edible food products. Persons should also avoid eating fruits and vegetables that have not been thoroughly cleaned.
Staphylococcal is a foodborne disease that results from toxins produced by Staphylococcus bacteria. The illness is spread through the consumption of food that has been contaminated with the toxins (Cain 278). To prevent the spread of the disease, persons should wash their hands after visiting the toilet. Proper refrigeration of foodstuffs should also be observed. Persons handling food should use alcohol hand sanitizers to keep their hands free from the pathogens
Haemorraghic Colitis is a food illness caused by the Escherichia coli (0157: H7) strain of a bacterium. The bacterium secretes a poisonous substance that corrodes the intestinal lining. There are a number of common symptoms associated with the disease. They include diarrhea and abdominal pains (Cain, 278). In severe infections, cases of bloody diarrhea are reported. The disease has been noted to spread due to improper cooking and undercooking of beef, pork, and poultry meat.
Milk infected by the bacteria also causes the disease. Measures to prevent Haaemorraghic Colitis include proper freezing or refrigeration of meat and meat products immediately after they have been bought (Cain 278). Meat should also be served immediately after cooking when it is still hot. Maintenance of hygiene through practices, such as washing hands after visiting convenient units and prior to handling uncooked meat would also help prevent the spread of the disease.
Foods that are left over after meals must also be properly refrigerated. The food should be heating up to about 740 centigrade prior to consumption. Only boiled or pasteurized milk should be consumed. Furthermore, one should avoid storing meat at room temperature for an extended duration of time. The aim is to avoid contamination and multiplication of the pathogens.
Causes of Food Borne Diseases
Many problems associated with food consumption are associated with inappropriate handling of food (Shaw 405). Bacteria were considered to be the most dominant agent that caused food illnesses. However, research has shown that other microbes, such as viruses and fungi, also contribute to food poisoning (Rowe et al. 682). Toxins from pathogens are also a major cause of food poisoning today. For example, toxins from the bacteria can be held in food for a long time without being visible.
Bacteria can cause food poisoning in both those foods that are consumed raw, such as fruits and vegetables and those that are cooked, such as meat, eggs, and milk. For this reason, vegetables and fruits must be washed thoroughly prior to consumption.
Food must also be adequately cooked at the right temperatures and also within the required duration of time in order to eliminate bacteria that may be present in food. Salmonella and Campylobacter species are the major causes of food poisoning in the USA today. Other species, such as Vibrio and clostridium, are also responsible for food-related illnesses.
As stated earlier, Campylobacter and Salmonella species are the most responsible for causing food poisoning (Shaw 405). The bacteria are widespread and can be found in feces from poultry, cattle, cats, as well as dogs.
Persons can get infected with the bacteria following the consumption of food, milk, and water that contains these two particular bacterium species. Measures to prevent the occurrence of the two species of bacteria include proper cooking of foods of animal origin. Foods should also be stored in a clean environment that is free from the bacteria.
Clostridium species are also responsible for many cases of food poisoning in the USA today (Shaw, 405). Clostridium perfringens is the most pathogenic member of the species. The bacteria are spread through the consumption of foods, such as meat that has not been adequately heated or have been subjected to poor refrigeration.
Meat is the common host for this particular bacterium. Measures to prevent Clostridium Perfringens include proper cleaning of hands after visiting the toilet, proper reheating of meat prior to consumption, and avoiding partial cooking of food. Persons involved with the preparation of meat food should avoid making huge meals at a go. Embracing small scale cooking of meat dishes ensures that all the food is adequately cooked and is safe for human consumption.
Good Food Handling Practices
The manner in which food is handled is very important in preventing the occurrence of foodborne diseases. Food should be handled with a lot of care to control and prevent the control of diseases (Merkle 45). Food-related poisoning can be prevented through proper handling of food. Food handling practices revolve activities, such as purchases, preparation, storage, cooking, serving, as well as the handling of leftovers. Food contamination can occur within any of the steps of food handling.
For this reason, strict measures should be put in place to ensure that persons handling food follow acceptable standards. It is important to note that food contamination occurring in any of the steps can be arrested through adequate cooking and refrigeration (Merkle 45). Pressure cookers are the most recommended since they cook food at high temperatures, which ensures that pathogens and their spores are destroyed.
Food safety measures should be observed throughout the production and conservation process (Walsch, 405). Great care should be taken when purchasing food. For perishable food items, especially those of animal origins, such as meat and yogurt, purchase only refrigerated foods. Refrigeration stops the multiplication of bacteria. Bacteria are normally rendered inactive at low temperatures. Their population is therefore controlled and lengthens the shelf life of food.
Storing food at extremely low temperatures can also lead to the death of some bacteria. Foods that cannot be refrigerated, such as vegetables should be consumed while they are still fresh to avoid giving time for the multiplication of bacteria. It is also advisable that food is the packaging containers of food substances should be intact.
Broken and torn containers may lead to the entry of disease-causing microbes (Merkle 45). It is also important to look out for the expiry date of the food products. Expired food products pose a greater risk to their consumers compared to other types of food products. Expired foods contain high levels of toxins. Toxins, such as aflatoxins, are not destroyed through cooking and cause poisoning even after long hours of cooking.
Storage is also an important aspect of food handling (Merkle, 45). Food should be stored in conditions that do not encourage the proliferation of bacteria and other pathogens. Refrigeration is the most commonly used method of preserving foods. The right temperatures must, however, be set to avoid multiplication of microbes. Temperatures below -170 centigrade is the most recommended for the preservation of foods. The right type of containers should also be used.
Foils and plastic containers are the most recommended. Canned foods do not require freezing. The foods are considered to be fit for human consumption as long as the cans look intact. A bulging can is an indicator of microbial activity. ”Juice’ from meat products should also be prevented from coming into contact with other food products to prevent the transfer of pathogens.
Food preparation should be carried out under regulated conditions. Anyone coming into contact with it should maintain proper hygiene (Walsch 405). Hands should be thoroughly washed using soap and warm water prior to and after the handling of food. Chopping boards also be kept clean to avoid cross-contamination. Separate boards should also be used for the preparation of raw meat products and vegetables (Walsch 405).
The practice should be followed since the duration and temperatures used in cooking of the two foods is different. Vegetables are normally cooked at low temperatures and for short durations of time. Contamination of vegetables with pathogens present in meat leads to food poisoning. Chopping boards can, however, be disinfected using chlorine breaches. Adequate cooking should also be done to ensure that all the pathogens are destroyed.
Serving should be done when the food is still hot, preferably 600 centigrade and above. Maintaining high temperatures while consuming food prevents re-infected with pathogens from the environment (Merkle 45). It is important to note that pathogens, such as bacteria are widespread in nature. High temperatures ensure that safety is free from bacteria when it is being consumed. Warming trays are used to heat food at the dining table to maintain temperatures above 600 centigrade.
Foods that are perishable should be stored at low temperatures as soon as they have been served. The foods should not be exposed to temperatures above 32.20 centigrade for a period exceeding 2 hours since this would promote the growth of pathogens. Although the pathogens can be destroyed through freezing and cooking, toxins produced by the microbes during the period that they are active cause food poisoning.
Leftovers should be properly stored for future consumption. Refrigeration is the most appropriate means of food preservation (Walsch, 405). Freezers can also be food to cool the food rapidly. Food left at room temperatures for a duration exceeding two hours should, however, be discarded. Leftovers should, however, not overstay in the refrigerators and should be consumed within four days.
Prior to their consumptions, the leftovers should be reheated to kill any pathogens that may have infected the food. It is recommended that the food is heated at temperatures above 73.90 centigrade.
Measures to Reduce Food-related Health Issues
Food safety-related health issues in the United States of America have resulted in the government spending billions of dollars in terms of medical expenses. Food safety issues have also resulted in the loss of millions in terms of economic losses. Providing fresh food to the population is one of the ways to help protect against foodborne diseases (“Dole Fresh Vegetables Food Safety” 11). Food that has been found to be unfit for human consumption is disposed of. The manufactures of such foods undergo huge losses since no sales are made.
Products and brands that are associated with food poisoning are also avoided by consumers in the future. Such manufacturers incur losses as a result of low sales volumes. Food poisoning and foodborne diseases have been found to result from the contamination of foods with pathogens, such as bacteria and other disease-causing microbes.
In a bid to reduce cases of food-related health issues, the government has put in place policies to regulate the production of foods. The production of genetically modified foods is, for example, being closely monitored by the government. Policies concerning the import and export of foods are also being reviewed to ensure that the foods fit for human consumption.
Food and food substances should be tested to ascertain their quality (Berger and Blake 123). In the year 2009, the government established the Food Safety Working Group (FSWG). The main responsibility of the group was to implement the federal government’s policies on food. The FSWG also partners with other state agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The staff members of the agency are highly trained in aspects of food safety. They inspect food processing plants to ensure that the right procedures are followed.
The agency also formulates policies to be implemented in the food industry. The agency has also been championed for having come up with a number of technological and scientific systems to help promote food safety. Thanks to the FSWG, food can be tested for a number of pathogens, such as clostridium bacterial species which are some of the most common food contaminants.
Other measures that are likely to help combat food-related health problems include a reduction of the population of bacterial pathogens present in the food (“Dole Fresh Vegetables Food Safety” 11). Campylobacter and Salmonella species have been identified as the major causes of food poisoning today — for example, the latter causes about one million food-related complications in the world today. Eggs have to date been identified as the main cause of salmonella related infections.
Salmonella related illnesses occur as a result of the infection of the eggshell with the bacteria. However, the government has not been in a position to put in place control measures to completely prevent the occurrence of the infection. The FDA has, however, started inspecting eggshells of six hundred of the largest producers in the country.
Egg risk management has also been used as the guideline to assessing the safety of liquid eggs. Poultry feeds have been noted to be the major sources of salmonella. As a result, the feeds should be treated to kill the bacteria that may be present.
To reduce food-related health issues, we should also strive to prevent cases of intentional adulteration (Berger and Blake 123). Today FDA is working closely with the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) to improve on food defense. The partnership aims at identifying cases where food is venerable to intentional contamination.
The assessment will be carried out through the aid of specialized computer software. Following the assessment, mitigation measures will be laid down. In areas where the risk of food contamination is high, public health facilities and departments will be notified in order for them to prepare adequately for the risk.
Safety Issues Revolving Around Imported and Expected Food
Most of the American foods are produced within the country’s borders. Only about one-sixth of the food consumed in the USA is imported (Berger and Blake 123). It is important to note that 20 percent of fresh vegetables and 50 percent of fresh fruits required to satisfy the needs of the American population are imported.
American laws and regulations do not apply for the goods produced outside their borders. For this reason, the Americans are at a greater risk consuming the imported foods compared to those produced locally. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) however conducts an inspection on only 2 percent of the imports.
It is important to note that the FDA is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that foods imported are produced under safe and sanitary conditions (Merkle 45). The production of foods should meet all the standards put in place for those produced within the country. Usually, all imported food products should be inspected.
The FDA, however, exempts importers whose facilities to produce, store, and handle food are certified by the body. FDA also requires that the imported food products should be produced through approved means, are certified, are licensed and have appropriate labels for identification.
A number of guidelines must also be observed when exporting foods from the United States of America (Walsch 405). Food to be exported should be produced under the same standards that govern production for domestic use. However, it is important to note that exporters are also supposed to produce within the standards stipulated by the market for their goods. Persons hoping to export food in the USA should consult with the Export regulations authority.
FDA, however, does not pay much attention to the quality of products produced for export and their safety. Exporters are not required by the FDA to obtain any export certificates. Food safety standards in the USA and those of the country where the food is to be exported are, however, to be strictly followed to avoid food-related health problems.
Safety Issues Related to Genetically Modified Food
Three agencies are involved in the regulation of genetically modified foods in the USA. FDA is concerned with the regulation of new varieties of plants, seafood, processing mechanisms, and additives being introduced (Berger and Blake 123). The US Department of Agriculture is also involved in the regulation of meat and poultry products in the country. The agency also organizes for field tests for genetically modified organisms.
The US Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating the use of chemicals, such as herbicides, and plant species that are pest resistant. Genetically modified organisms intended to be used as food sources in the USA must be therefore produced in accordance with the food safety measures put in place by the three agencies. However, the FDA still plays the greatest role in matters concerning food safety.
Novel products obtained from the genetically modified are not subjected to strict regulations in the USA as compared to other regions, such as the European Union (Walsch 405). Such novel products include proteins, oils, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The products are considered to be beneficial to the population and contribute towards achieving food security.
Other products by genetically modified organisms, such as sweetening agents, are classified as additives and are subject to strict regulations. The composition of such products should be tested to ensure that they are safe for human consumptions. The food products should also not have harmful residues that would compromise on their safety.
Food safety as a discipline describes techniques used to prevent the occurrence of food-related illnesses. To ensure that food safety measures are observed, food must be handled and preparation of food (Berger and Blake 123). Failure to observe food safety measures causes health problems in the population. Bacteria have been identified as the major causes of foodborne diseases.
Foodborne diseases can, however, be prevented through the introduction of appropriate food handling, preparation, and storage techniques. Imported and exported foodstuffs must also meet the required standards. The introduction of genetically modified foods has been considered to be one of the most important emerging issues in the food industry. The foods should, however, be tested to ascertain that they are fit for human consumption.
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