There may be several food safety standards, but their goal is always the same. Each set of rules aims to ensure that food items will not cause harm to consumers. There are no distinct boundaries to tell these standards apart, although there are different ways to look at it. These regulations can be grouped according to food service, import or distribution. Each division is governed by different agencies, which may enforce diverse sets of standards:
Food safety standards that deal with this division are the most widespread among all regulations. Government agencies for agriculture are usually in control of these standards. Politics may also play an influential role in decision-making, especially since this division deals with trade and import. European countries, for instance, have firmer rules on importing genetically modified crops compared to the United States. Some countries may also restrict dairy products made with unpasteurized milk.
Another way to look at food safety standards is through distribution. Processing is an example of this division. Most cases of contamination begin during production and processing, which is why prevention is crucial at this stage. Standards that focus on this division emphasize the importance of stopping contamination at an early level, before it causes widespread harm. A country-wide contamination can easily spread to a full-blown worldwide disaster if food safety is not practiced from the very beginning. Not only will it require immense effort in recalling contaminated items, but food safety malpractice may also lead to poisoning and illness. Both consequences have an enormous impact on the country’s economy and may lead to greater expenses and losses in profit.
The national agency of agriculture is held responsible for making sure that standards in distribution are met. All methods and precautions should be exercised to prevent cross-contamination and ensure food sanitation.
- Food Service
Food safety regulations that are included in this division are more focused on food presentation and handling. This includes maintaining the appropriate temperature in salad bars and storage freezers. Meat and poultry should be prepared in accordance with the recommended heat level. Otherwise, consumers should at least be informed that the meat was undercooked. For instance, customers may have different preferences with how their steak is prepared.
Good hygiene goes hand in hand with food safety. Employees who are directly in contact with food items should practice proper hygiene in food preparation and handling. The local health department is in charge of implementing these guidelines in the food service industry. Depending on the government, these policies may require overall hygiene in the workplace and service area. Some employees are even encouraged to wear hairnets while preparing food.
Food safety should not be taken lightly, especially by those who are engaged in the food service industry. Business who are non-compliant to these standards are at risk of losing their license to operate, and may even be required to pay fines. The local government reprimands uncooperative businesses by revoking their licenses until proper action is taken.