Tracing back a meal to its source is a humbling moment. More often than not, at least five thousand individuals work behind the scenes in the food and beverage industries and five thousand more are directly involved in the production and logistics processes. Food quality and safety systems have certainly come a long way, and continue to enhance themselves by understanding the local and international food culture first.
The centrality of food in the kaleidoscope of cultures is a not just a factor of diversity but is the very adhesive that patches civilizations with one another. In fact, ancient migratory routes of humans from one dwelling to a different one indicate that the predominant motivation was seeking improved sources of food. Once this source was acquired, understanding the processing and storage of food products have been the consequent steps—mostly adapted through cyclic trials and errors.
Over the years, nature too has influenced our food sources through climate change. Shelf lives and storage conditions have slightly altered with time and will continue to do so as we amalgamate ingredients from various parts of the globe.
The influx of new ingredients and their availability across different tiers of various cultures have influenced recipes, which in turn have left a ripple effect on food safety and quality management systems. For instance, banana blossoms based recipes once called for fresh florets. Today, different techniques employ the use of dehydrated or salted blossoms, which come with extended shelf lives as well. Matching the demand and supply chain requirements have catalyzed the need to resort to extending the shelf lives of ingredients. This has further been fueled by sustainability and food waste reduction systems.
Food safety and quality systems all over the world are gradually shifting from a local and more centralized radius to an international scope, as food sources keep varying with time. Supporting local cultivators and home grown food businesses remains a budding trend to not only support smaller food business but to also reduce the carbon footprint of overall production and processing.
The future of food safety and quality management lies with not just embracing science and technology but also through understanding the fibers that bind us all through the grand tapestry that is food culture. If there is one language that is universally understood, it’s the culinary language of food.