Origins of food safety
The concept of food safety is a relatively recent one. It was introduced to increase the confidence that the food consumers bought would not make them ill. This is more applicable in richer, developed nations than those where people struggle to find or afford enough food to avoid hunger and starvation.
Extending shelf life of food through refrigeration, heat treatments and preservation such as drying or salting started from the mid 1800’s. With the introduction of space travel by the USA in the 1960’s the concept of food safety was pushed to a new level. The system adopted at that time of minimising food associated risk by identifying hazards became HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. The HACCP approach is the basis of all modern food safety principles and the various standards which have arisen in the last 25 years. Each country and food sector was developing its own standard until the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was founded in 2000. The goal of the GFSI remains “once certified, accepted everywhere”.
Food safety in South Africa
As this is not yet happening to the full extent in SA, we are still working with numerous standards and different requirements for different sectors. One thing all the standards do have in common is the need for staff training in food safety. Food safety needs to be explained to all involved in food growing, manufacturing, processing, distribution and catering as it is seldom something people learn at school. Concepts need to be taught and understood to ensure good implementation of systems. Skills development is also very important in South Africa. The benefits of well trained staff can contribute to the total efficiency and business prosperity. Highlighted below are the references that itemise the imperative need for training.
References to food safety training in various standards
- SANS 10049:2011- Reference 7.5.1 Training as a requirement for personnel engaged in the handling of food product
- SANS 10330:2007 – Reference 6.2.(m) relevant training programmes
- ISO 22000:2005 – Reference 6.2.2 Competence, awareness and training
- BRC Food Standard Issue 7 – Clause 7.1.1 -7.1.6 Training, competencies, assessments and training records
- BRC Food Standard Issue 7 – Clause 3.4.2 Training of Internal Auditors
- SQF Code 7th Edition 2012- Element 2.9.2 Training Programme is mandatory and cannot be reported as “ not applicable” or “exempt”. The code requires training in applicable Good Manufacturing Practices ( or Agricultural Practices) and applying food regulatory requirements
- SQF Code 7th Edition 2012 – Element 2.9.4 for Level 2 plan with GFSI recognition requires HACCP Training
Foodpath offers a range of food safety training courses to meet these needs. Foodpath focuses on different skills levels and the content applicable to these. Similarly the assessments can be performed through the use of pictures or tests according to the group requirements. The “pathway to safe food” is to start with the basics and enable staff to absorb knowledge in manageable steps. Foodpath keeps the food safety concepts simple to be understood by all.