Food safety issues

HACCP director Martin Stone identifies the five top food safety issues facing Australia’s food manufacturers.

1. Foodborne illness

Incidences are increasing in Australia at exponential rates due to better reporting systems, greater awareness and reporting of incidences, and changing dietary habits including the move towards more complex, processed foods and eating out.

Food is also travelling further for longer periods of time.

Increased handling of food in a longer distribution chain means more opportunity for food safety to be challenged.

2. Importing food

This can be a risky business, especially if food is being imported from countries that do not have food safety controls.

While food production and imports from China and India, for example, may keep costs down, the controls in these countries differ from those in Australia.

There needs to be appropriate food safety controls during the manufacturing stage.

3. Uniformity in laws and requirements

Not all food processors have a food safety program in place.

There is no uniform government mandate saying something needs to be in place.

While there is the Food Standards Code, there is a lack of understanding of the Code’s requirements.

4. Pest control

There are potential food safety risks when dealing with chemicals on-site.

Both the chemicals themselves and their ability to lose potency can contribute to the risk of contamination.

5. Poor auditing

There is a large variation in the skill and ability of non-HACCP auditors in determining real food safety issues.

Some auditors are too focused on minor issues within documentation and as a result they lose site of what is actually important: making food safe.

This situation results in companies looking good on paper but being less good in terms of their manufacturing facilities and practices.

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