Food safety concerns
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Common Food Safety Issues in 2024

Posted by: Ong Ru Yan Date: 02 Mar 2024

Safe and nutritious food is the key to a healthy life. But the ever-evolving food safety concerns – from evolving pathogens to global supply chain complexities – mean that the food and culinary industries have to ensure they meet the highest possible food safety standards cautiously. To achieve this, it is critical to understand the most common food safety problems and their potential solutions.

This blog delves into the common food safety issues, the challenges the food industry faces while addressing these issues, and the role certifications can play in mitigating these challenges.

Common Food Safety Issues

From improper sanitation and confusing labelling to untrained staff and unsafe food storage, the food and culinary industry has to navigate a host of issues when it comes to food safety. Some of the most prevalent food safety issues to navigate in the 2024 culinary landscape include:[1]

  • Foodborne Illnesses
    Caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, or chemical substances contaminating the food – is one of the most prevalent food safety issues around the globe. Many foodborne illnesses have the potential to cause long-lasting disabilities or death, with the WHO estimating 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses with 420,000 deaths per year.[2]
  • Contamination (Biological, Chemical, or Physical)
    Another facet – or even a precursor – of foodborne illnesses is food contamination. Whether biological (bacteria or other harmful microorganisms), chemical (disturbed chemical concentrations or pesticide residues), or physical (foreign objects) contamination compromises food safety and poses a significant public health risk.[3]
  • Improper Handling and Storage
    Improper food handling and storage is one of the most common challenges the food industry as a whole has to navigate when addressing food safety. Stemming from inadequate temperature controls, cross-contamination, or unsanitary practices, improper handling and storage of food can be the cause of other issues like spoilage, bacterial growth, or foodborne illnesses.[1]
  • Cross-Contamination
    Often occurring through the repeated use of machinery, equipment, or tools, cross-contamination in food occurs when harmful microorganisms transfer from one surface to another, contaminating safe food in the process. Such transmission can amplify the risk of foodborne illnesses or tamper with allergen management protocol.[1]
  • Allergen Management
    Allergen management is another crucial safety concern the food industry must navigate, as improper handling and even the smallest of traces of allergens can cause severe reactions. Confusing labelling, untrained staff, or lax kitchen protocols can aggravate this issue and can potentially lead to public health and trust concerns.[1][4]

INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

Although they seem distinct, the majority of the current food safety issues are interconnected and compromise the integrity and safety of the food supply. The food industry also grapples with several challenges while ensuring the safety of the food products it handles.

Here are some of the most common challenges the food industry must navigate to ensure food safety:[5]

  • Supply Chain Complexities
    The modern food supply chain is extremely intricate and complex, connecting a multitude of stakeholders across production, processing, and distribution functions. Ensuring uniform adherence to the safety and quality standards across all the participants is challenging, making it difficult to trace the origin of a food product and the source of contamination in case a food safety issue arises.
  • Globalisation
    Globalisation has facilitated the production and consumption of food products across borders. This has resulted in diverse safety and quality standards, making it difficult for the food industry to ensure consistency across different international markets. Additionally, globalisation in the food industry has led to increased production and distribution, further complicating the universal adherence to safety and quality standards.
  • Consumer Perceptions
    Consumer expectations around food safety and quality are evolving constantly, with modern consumers across borders having different perceptions of what a safe and high-quality food product is. Additionally, limited access to information often complicates consumers’ ability to make informed decisions about the quality of food they buy, making it challenging for the food industry to operate in the globalised marketplace.

These are some of the present challenges – on top of the evolving stringent regulatory requirements, the emergence of new pathogens, and maintaining consistency across diverse production environments – the food industry has to navigate when addressing common food safety concerns. Continuous innovation, rigorous monitoring, uniform protocols, and industry-wide collaboration are some of the ways the food industry can overcome these challenges.

Importance of Certification in Mitigating Risks

Food safety certifications play a pivotal role in helping the food industry overcome common food safety issues and industry challenges to ensure food quality and safety. These certifications guarantee a robust framework for maintaining uniform policies and practices, rigorous quality standards, and comprehensive control measures while fostering customer trust irrespective of the globalised markets.[6]

Some of the most common food safety management certifications include:

  • ISO 22000 – a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) standard
  • FSSC 22000 – covers processing, manufacturing, and handling of a wide range of foods
  • IFS Food – for auditing the quality of manufacturer’s processes and products to bring transparency to complex food supply chain
  • BRC Food Standards – provides global guidelines for safety, quality, and operational criteria for food producers and suppliers
  • FAMI-QS – a globally recognised certification for speciality feed ingredients and mixtures
  • HACCP – offers a systematic preventive approach to food safety
  • SQF – a food safety and quality certification covering all stages of food supply chains
  • SS 444 – offers a systematic preventive approach to food safety
  • SS 590 – a standard outlining the framework and requirements for a FSMS
  • SS 668 – a standard for cold chain management systems of chilled and frozen foods

Implementing and getting certified to these standards can help you mitigate any food safety risks and ensure consistent product quality and safety across borders.

Conclusion

Understanding and addressing the common food safety issues – from foodborne illnesses and contamination to improper handling and allergen management – is crucial for the food industry. Additionally, the international food industry also has to navigate the challenges of supply chain complexities, evolving consumer perceptions, and diverse regulation in the globalised market. Food safety certifications like ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, IFS, BRC, SS 444, SS 590, and others play a pivotal role in mitigating the most common food safety concerns and ensuring consistency across the global markets.

TÜV SÜD’s Food Safety Management Systems certification services and training courses can help you navigate the various food safety standards and get certified with global recognition. Embark on your certification journey with TÜV SÜD to ensure food safety and compliance across your supply chain.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.anfponline.org/news-resources/top-10-resource-lists/top-10-food-safety-issues
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safety
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/food-contamination
  4. https://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/common-errors-in-allergen-management/
  5. https://www.longdom.org/open-access/food-safety-and-quality-importance-challenges-and-solutions-100269.html
  6. https://globalfoodsafetyresource.com/food-safety-certification/

 

 

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