The term “food safety” generally refers to practices used in food handling, storage, and preparation that preserve the quality of food while preventing contamination and spread of foodborne disease. People at every stage of the food supply chain work hard to prevent food from becoming affected, but this can still happen in many ways. Some food products may already contain parasites or bacteria, while others get contaminated during the packaging process. All types of food can become contaminated, but red meat, eggs, poultry, cheese, dairy products, raw sprouts, fish, and shellfish pose a higher risk.
Frequently, foodborne diseases result from a failure to follow proper hygiene practices, especially when handling raw and unpackaged products. Improper cooking, storing, and reheating can also increase the risk of bacterial contamination.
Many food suppliers, distributors, and retailers are working hard to keep the supply of food safe and healthy. But food safety issues continue to arise regularly.
Modern Food Safety? Not So Modern!
Private and public sector stakeholders share a responsibility to ensure that food produced, shipped, and sold are as safe as possible for consumers. And the food safety regulatory landscape is always changing as a result of new developments in science and technology—the latest being the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). In the midst of FSMA implementation in 2016, many organizations are working hard to ensure they meet all the new requirements.
QA managers are playing a key role in this process. Yet QA managers everywhere agree that they are swamped with paperwork. It may sound hard to believe, but paper and pencil checklists remain the tool of choice for many organizations to manage food safety in the 21st century. Time and temperature logs, training checklists, sanitation schedules, and many more are still recorded on clipboards by most QA managers.
A QA manager is also responsible for ensuring all front-line workers are up to speed on food safety rules and best practices, walking through the company’s locations several times a day with clipboard in hand to review a list of safety and quality measures.