Food Quality and Food Safety

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Food Quality and Food Safety

Transcript Of Food Quality and Food Safety

Food Quality and Food Safety
Learning Objectives
After completing this chapter the learner will be able to: zz explain the importance of various issues related to food safety and
quality zz understand how food-borne illnesses occur zz know about national and international food standards and their role
in ensuring food quality and safety zz understand the importance of food safety management systems zz be acquainted with various career avenues / options in this area.
Food is a major determinant of health, nutritional status and productivity of the population. It is, therefore, essential that the food we consume is wholesome and safe. Unsafe food can lead to a large number of foodborne diseases. You may have seen reports in the newspapers about health problems caused by contaminated or adulterated foods. Globally, food-borne illness is a major problem of public health concern. In India, the National Family Health Survey, 2015 – 2016 stated

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that more than 9 lakh children less than five years of age suffered from acute diarrhea. Food-borne illness can not only result in mortality but can damage trade and tourism, lead to loss of earnings, unemployment and litigation and thus can impede economic growth, and therefore food safety and quality have gained worldwide significance.
Food safety and quality are important at the home level, but are critical in large scale food production and processing, and also where food is freshly prepared and served. In the past, many foods were processed at home. Advancement in technology and processing, higher per capita incomes and better purchasing power as well as increased consumer demand have led to a variety of processed foods, food for health / functional foods being manufactured. Safety of such foods needs to be assessed.
The quality of food stuff, raw as well as processed is of public health concern and must be addressed. In the past decade, safety challenges faced globally as well as in India have changed significantly and issues related to food quality and food safety have gained tremendous importance. A number of factors are responsible for this: zz With fast changing lifestyles and eating habits, more people are eating
outside their homes. In commercial settings, foods are prepared in bulk handled by many persons, thus there are more chances of food getting contaminated. Further, food items are prepared many hours in advance, and may spoil if not stored appropriately. zz There are many processed and packaged foods. Safety of these foods is important. zz Spices and condiments, oilseeds were processed at home in former times and purity of these were not a concern. In today’s world, prepackaged individual spices, condiments, spice powders and mixes are in demand, especially in cities and metros. Quality of even raw food stuff besides processed foods is of public health concern and must be addressed. zz Logistics governing transport of bulk food is complex and there is a long gap between processing and consumption. Thus risk assessment and safety management during mass production and mass distribution is critical. zz Microbial adaptations, antibiotic resistance, altered human susceptibility and international traveling have all contributed to increasing incidence of food-borne microbial diseases. Nearly half of

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all known food-borne pathogens have been discovered during the past 25-30 years. There are still many food borne illnesses of unknown etiology. This is an issue of global public health concern and there is a need to detect, identify and recognise emerging pathogens and establish active surveillance networks, nationally and internationally. zz India is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) non-tariff agreement, which has provided greater access to world markets and opportunities to all countries to enter international trade. In this scenario, it has become essential for every country to protect the safety and quality of foods and also ensure that imported foods are of good quality and safe to eat. Effective food standards and control systems are required to protect food production within the country as well as to facilitate trade with other nations. All food manufacturers are required to meet the given standards of quality and safety, and need to have their products regularly tested. zz Pollution in atmosphere, soil and water, including use of pesticides in agriculture, bring their share of contaminants. Also use of additives such as preservatives, colourants, flavouring agents and other substances such as stabilisers makes the analysis of food for various components — both nutrients and contaminants—imperative.
Owing to the above factors, there is a growing concern for safe, wholesome and nutritious foods in a highly dynamic food business environment, which in turn has greatly expanded the scope and has increased career opportunities in this sector. Before learning about the various career options in this field, it will be worthwhile for us to understand the basic concepts regarding food quality, food safety, risk assessment, food standards and quality management systems.
Basic Concepts
Food Safety
Food safety means assurance that food is acceptable for human consumption according to its intended use. An understanding of food safety is improved by defining two other concepts — toxicity and hazard.
Toxicity is the capacity of a substance to produce harm or injury of any kind under any conditions. Hazard is the relative probability that harm or injury will result when substance is not used in a prescribed manner and quantity. Hazards can be physical, chemical and biological causing harmful / adverse effects on the health of consumers.

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Physical hazard is any physical material not normally found in food, which causes illness or injury and includes wood, stones, parts of pests, hair etc. (Fig. 6.1).





Physical Hazards in





Fig. 6.1.: Physical hazards in foods


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Fig. 6.2: Chemical hazards in foods

Chemical hazards are chemicals or deleterious substances which may be intentionally or un-intentionally added to foods. This category of hazards includes pesticides, chemical residues, toxic metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, preservatives, food colours and other additives (Fig. 6.2).
Biological hazards are living organisms and include microbiological organisms (Fig. 6.3 and 6.4). Those micro-organisms which are associated with food and cause diseases are termed food-borne pathogens. There are two types of food-borne diseases from microbial pathogens—infections and poisoning.


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Fig. 6.3.: Visible biological hazards in foods






PROTOZOA Fig. 6.4.: Invisible/microbiological hazards in foods


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Food infection /Food Poisoning results from ingestion of live pathogenic organisms which multiply in the body and cause disease. Salmonella is a classic example. This organism exists in the intestinal tract of animals. Raw milk and eggs are also sources. Heat destroys Salmonella, however, inadequate cooking allows some organisms to survive. Often Salmonella is spread through cross-contamination. This could happen when a cook cuts raw meat/poultry on a chopping board and without cleaning uses it for another food which does not involve any cooking, such as salad. Food may become infected by Salmonella if an infected food handler does not wash hands with soap after using bathroom and before touching food. Salmonella can reproduce very quickly and double their number every 20 minutes. The symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
Food intoxication: Some bacteria produce harmful toxins which are present in food even if pathogen has been killed. Organisms produce toxins when the food has not been hot enough or cold enough. Toxins in food cannot be detected by smell, appearance or taste. Hence foods which smell and appear good are not necessarily safe. One example of such an organism is Staphylococcus aureus. Such organisms exist in air, dust, water. They are also present in the nasal passage, throat and on skin, hair of 50 per cent of healthy individuals. People who carry this organism, contaminate food if they touch these places on body while food handling. Diarrhea is also one of the symptoms of this contamination. Parasites can also cause infestation, e.g., worm infestation by tape worm in pork. In addition to this, food can be infested by pests and insects (Fig. 6.5).
Fig. 6.5: Infestation of foods
Among the various hazards, biological hazards are an important cause of food-borne illnesses. In spite of all the efforts in the area of food safety, microbial food-borne pathogens are still a serious concern and new pathogens continue to emerge.

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Factors that are important in the emergence of pathogens include human host, animal hosts and their interactions with humans, the pathogen itself, and the environment including how food is produced, processed, handled and stored. For example, changes in host susceptibility due to malnutrition, age and other conditions can allow for the emergence of new infections in vulnerable populations. Genetic exchange or mutations in the organisms can create new strains with the potential to cause disease. Exposure to new pathogens through changes in eating habits, climate, mass production, food processing and increased globalisation of the food supply can allow pathogens to emerge in new populations or new geographic areas.
Examples are Norovirus, Rotavirus, hepatitis E contributing to about 70 per cent of cases. New pathogens will continue to evolve and there is a need to develop methods to isolate them, control them and detect their presence in foods.
In the context of food safety, it is important to understand the terms contamination and adulteration.
Contamination: It is the presence of harmful, or objectionable foreign substances in food such as chemicals, micro-organisms, dilutants before/during or after processing or storage.
Adulteration: Food adulteration is the process in which the quality of food is lowered either by the addition of inferior quality material or by extraction of valuable ingredient. It not only includes the intentional addition or substitution of the substances but biological and chemical contamination during the period of growth, storage, processing, transport and distribution of the food products. It is also responsible for lowering or degradation of the quality of food products.
Adulterants: are those substances which are used for making the food products unsafe for human consumption.
Having understood what food safety is, let us discuss food quality.
Food Quality: The term food quality refers to attributes that influence a product’s value to consumers. This includes both negative attributes such as spoilage, contamination, adulteration, food safety hazards as well as positive attributes such as colour, flavour, texture. It is therefore a holistic concept integrating factors such as nutritional traits, sensorial properties (colour, texture, shape, appearance, taste, flavour, odour), social considerations, safety. Safety is a preliminary attribute and precursor of quality. In order to ensure that foods are safe and of good quality, across the world various governments and international bodies have laid down food standards that manufacturers/suppliers are expected to adhere to.

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Thus, all food service providers (those involved at all stages of pre-preparation and preparation/processing, packaging and service) should adhere to good manufacturing practices and ensure food safety. Salient points to be borne in mind are:
1. Quality of raw materials and water
2. Cleanliness — of the premises, personnel, equipment, food preparation and storage and serving areas
3. Storage of food at appropriate temperature
4. Food hygiene
5. Good service practices.

Collect 5 fresh fruits, 5 fresh vegetables and one food preparation e.g., bread/chapati/roti and list the signs of quality in the given format. Store them at room temperature for one week, observe the changes and prepare a chart listing the changes in quality. Name of Foodstuff / Product


During storage

Day 2 or 3

Day 7

Appearance i) Bright / Dull ii) Shrivelled iii) Mouldy

Texture (Firmness/ softness/soggy)



Food Standards
Effective food standards and control systems are required to integrate quality into every aspect of food production and service, to ensure the supply of hygienic, wholesome food as well as to facilitate trade within and between nations. There are four levels of standards which are well coordinated. a. Company Standards: These are prepared by a Company for its own
use. Normally, they are copies of National Standards.
b. National Standards: These are issued by the national standards body, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).


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c. Regional Standards: Regional groups with similar geographical, climate, etc. have legislation standardisation bodies.
d. International Standards: The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) publish international standards.
Food Standards and Regulations in India
Voluntary product certification: There are voluntary grading and marking schemes such as ISI mark of BIS and Agmark. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) deals with standardisation of various consumer goods including food products and runs a voluntary certification scheme known as ‘ISI’ mark for processed foods. Agmark is a voluntary scheme of certification of agricultural products (raw and processed) for safeguarding the health of consumers.
Since the government had several regulations and laws, food industry found it cumbersome to adhere to. A need was therefore felt to integrate all such laws for regulating the quality of food. With this in view, Indian Government has passed Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, to bring the different pieces of legislation pertaining to food safety under one umbrella.
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006: The objects of the Act are to consolidate the laws relating to food. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been established under Food Safety and Standards, 2006, which consolidates various acts and orders that have hitherto handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India was established for laying down science-based standards for food and to regulate their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import, to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The Act has provisions for maintenance of hygienic conditions in and around manufacturing premises, assessment and management of risk factors to human health in a scientific manner, which were not specified in the PFA. The FSSA reflects the international shift in food laws, from compositional standards or vertical standards to safety or horizontal standards.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been mandated by the Food Safety Standards Act, 2006 for performing the following functions:
• Framing of regulations to lay down the standards and guidelines for articles of food and system of enforcing various standards.
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