Ensuring Food Safety In Food Service Establishments

Customers demand more than good-tasting food. These days, they are also more inclined to patronize establishments that practice the right food safety techniques. Besides this, consider the disastrous consequences of a food poisoning incident especially if the media or a prominent personality is involved.
Once you are convinced of the need to have a formal program on food safety, you should proceed to gather information on what needs to be implemented. Below is a list of concerns that you should study:
Government agencies and regulations regarding food service. In planning for a program to improve your food safety, the starting point is compliance with government regulations. Besides the rules on facilities and food manufacturing and handling, the government also mandates health check-ups on personnel to make sure they do not pass on disease. The Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are the primary arm of the government regarding food safety.
Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). These are the updated procedures (usually prescribed by the government) to be used in manufacturing food and pharmaceuticals to avoid contamination. Some of the things prescribed by cGMP are the standards on cleanliness, pest control, process controls, personnel requirements and building maintenance.
The basic types of food hazards. There are numerous contaminants that cause food hazards. Basically they can be grouped into three categories:
• Physical hazards. These are ranged from relatively harmless although appetite-reducing items, from human hair to dangerous materials like broken glass or bone fragments. Insects are usually grouped with physical hazards, although some may consider that they are biological hazards as they may transmit bacteria.
• Chemical hazards. Chemical hazards are poisonous substances that are accidentally mixed into the food. Sources of these materials are usually the poisons used to eradicate pests or chemicals used for various cleaning tasks. Many of these types of problems can be minimized if the harmful materials are properly labelled and stored in a place where there is no risk of co-mingling with the food.
• Biological hazards. These are caused by live microscopic organisms like bacteria, virus and parasites. Note that biological hazards can occur even with no contamination because minute quantities of harmful microorganisms are present even in unspoiled food. They may multiply into dangerous quantities due to factors like wrong temperature.
• Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This is one of the most scientific and comprehensive approaches to ensuring food safety in both food manufacturing and food retailing. The focus is more on prevention than just spotting problems that had already occurred. HACCP is composed of seven principles to eliminate or reduce food hazards.
All companies in the food business must continuously monitor and improve their food safety procedures. Remember that one mistake can threaten the health of your customers, bring about costly lawsuits and destroy your carefully nurtured image.
To know more about this topic, BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts an excellent seminar on this entitled “Food Safety (A Basic Training on HACCP)”. Contact (02) 727-5628, (02) 727-8860, (0915) 205-0133 or visit www.businesscoachphil.com for details.

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, August 19, 2012. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.