What Matters More: Food Safety, or Food Qua


What Matters More: Food Safety, or Food Qua

Thursday, October 03, 2019

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How many of us assume that food packaged in expensive containers with world-class labels are safe? Or think that cheap packaging automatically means that something is wrong with the content? While both food safety and quality are important in ensuring that consumers are safe and satisfied, many people confuse food quality with food safety.

Food safety is mainly concerned with providing the assurance that food is safe for human consumption and does not contain any biological, chemical or physical contaminants.

Some practices in food safety include:

• Cleaning and sanitation

• Employee hygiene and training

• Temperature control

• Pest control and facility maintenance

Food quality however is more concerned with ensuring product specifications meet and exceed customers' expectations.

Some practices in food quality include:

• Proper packaging and labelling which are appealing to customers and contain adequate information

• Texture and appearance of food products

• Taste, consistency and smell of food products

Most companies will be more inclined to focus on food safety because they may equate this to them automatically producing good-quality food. However, based on the definition of each, it is fair to surmise that products produced under safe conditions may not be of good quality, and good-quality food may not be safe. Additionally, quality issues such as off texture, odour, appearance, consistency and damaged packaging may mean that food is no longer safe for consumption. This simply means that while both are different, both must nevertheless be taken into consideration when planning a food production operation.

Each product has its own specification when it comes to food quality — which makes quality more subjective in a sense; on the other hand, food safety rules are made explicit and must be followed to maintain public health. The concept of food quality is why one prefers eating one brand of yogurt over another, for example. Food safety ensures that brands have no contaminants that may cause illness from consuming.

Producing food in large quantities has become extremely important due to the growing population, and hence the need to maintain food security. But some food manufacturers will focus on producing large quantities of food, to the detriment of both food quality and safety, for profit and to meet demands. It is however imperative that we focus on keeping food safe and investing in systems that also keep quality consistent.

Having a robust food safety programme will result in consistent quality being produced, as systems such as ISO 22000, Safe Quality Food (SQF) etc include the implementation of systems that manage the quality of products to meet customer requirements — as opposed to having just an HACCP system in place — while ensuring that food safety is maintained through the identification and control of potential hazards that may cause food-borne illnesses.

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