What are food safety regulations ?
Food safety regulations are laws that are designed to protect consumers from the risk of illness caused by eating unsafe foods. Laws can be enforced at a national, state, or local level - meaning different rules and standards may apply depending on where you live. In general, these laws require food retailers to follow safe handling procedures and keep records of what they do. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes guidelines for food manufacturers to follow when producing food, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes guidelines for restaurants. There is also a high standard of safety set forth by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA).
10 Must-Know Food Safety Regulations in the Food Industry
Important food safety regulations and who makes them
Food safety is a vast topic. From growing fresh produce to food processing, cooking, and serving to the customers, food handlers have to maintain extreme caution. To ensure safety standards are followed at every stage of the food supply chain, the United States has set up multiple departments and organizations.
For instance, the United States Food and Drug Administration monitors tobacco products, dietary supplements, medicines, and drugs as part of its aim to promote and protect public health. Food Safety Modernization Act authorizes the United States Food and Drug Administration to regulate the way food, fruits vegetables, and cereals are grown, harvested, and processed.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) came into existence after millions of cases of foodborne disease were reported in early 2000s.
Similarly, United States Department Agriculture is responsible for monitoring food , agriculture and nutrition. It formulates and issues guidelines on food safety and quality. It ensures meat and poultry products are safe to consume and properly labeled.
The main aim of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to create awareness regarding the ideal way of handling food products . It issues advisories on safe food cooking and storing temperatures, food handling to prevent foodborne illness and promote public health .
The United States has its food code that mentions the standards related to food preparation, packaging and preserving. The US FDA has also come up with a food safety management system Hazard Analysis Critical Control to analyze the possibilities of food safety hazards and suggests preventive steps.
All of these departments make sure that the wholesale and retail food sellers , restaurant owners and farmers abide by the federal regulations and food protection laws to nurture public health .
Proper Cooking Temperature
Cooking food at the right temperature is the first rule of the food safety system . The right cooking temperature kills even the most poisonous bacteria in the food products , preventing any foodborne illness .
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has listed temperature range for different food products . For instance, it advises to cook ham at 145 Fahrenheit, while for ground meat it states 145 as the ideal temperature.
While microwaving cooking is easier, if not paid attention it can serve you partially cooked food. Chop thicker or larger food products like meat and poultry into even pieces before placing in the microwave. This will ensure the food is properly cooked.
Food safety regulations are constantly changing.
What is the most up to date information?
Apart from various state and local health associations in the United States, World Health Organisation (WHO) has regularly emphasized on handwashing. Wash your hands before you start cooking.
Sanitise your hands after handling non vegetarian food products like meat poultry so to avoid cross contamination. Similarly, people working in farms should adopt the practice of handwashing right after handling animal feed .
Wash all dishes with hot soapy water to make them bacteria free. Then, rinse them with clean water and air dry them before you place them in cupboards. Put the grill plates in vinegar or ammonia solution for deep cleaning.
Regularly clean your microwave , mixers, coffee makers and refrigerators as it reduces the possibility of cross communication.
Employees and Customers
A restaurant interacts with several people on a daily basis, from its guests to employees, delivery personnel and the people involved in food supply . Thus, it becomes important to set some ground rules as part of food safety system .
Make masks mandatory in the COVID era. Make sure your chefs, waiters other staff wear masks when they are in the kitchen or serving customers to ensure food protection . Similarly, ask your guests and delivery personnel to use one!
Make smoking a no tolerance policy' in the kitchen. Ask your food handling staff to go outside for a smoke.
Ask your chefs and other kitchen staff to always keep their head caps on, because you wouldn't like a customer complaining about hair in their food. This is a violation of food safety standards .
Water and Sewage Disposal
- Kitchen cannot function without water. Right from cooking to washing, water keeps the kitchens running.
- Make sure the water you use for soaking food products and cooking meets the drinking water safety standards . Contaminated water is a major source of E-coli and Campylobacter, which can cause severe foodborne illness .
- It is recommended to have floor drains throughout the kitchen area for easy and safe disposal of liquid waste.
Foodborne illness is a major problem in the food industry.
Regulations are constantly changing and it can be difficult to keep up with all of them.
Pests and Rodents
- Farmers are required to spray pesticides on their farms regularly to keep crops safe.
- If you are involved in a restaurant business, you must know that dustbin acts as a major attraction for rodents. Dump the garbage every night and wash these dustbins before you close for the day.
- To ensure food protection and Food Safety store your food in sealed containers. Even if the rodents find their way to your kitchen, at least they won't be able to access your food products.
- A small hole is all a rat needs to enter your territory. Seal any cracks or holes in your restaurant, warehouse, retail food shop to keep your food products safe.
- If required, do not shy away to contact pest control.
Design and Operation of Premises
A store room for keeping for raw materials and food products like grains and cereals is a must to have in any food establishment.
If dealing primarily in frozen foods, then it is important to have a properly designed cold storage that meets your business needs.
Like we said, water keeps the kitchen running. So, check if there is a smooth connection of potable water. Also, while designing your restaurant kitchen, take care of floor drains and are sewage disposal necessities.
Preventing Contamination During Food Processing & Packaging
- Clean machinery and appliances from time to time in line with Food Safety regulations
- Sanitise and color code carts and ramps so that veg and non-veg food do not mix.
- Make sure that the recirculating water used in the machine adheres to safety standards.
- All staff involved in handling food products should have COVID vaccine certification. This is the primary step towards food protection in these COVID times.
- Ask your staff to wear hand gloves, face shields and kitchen caps while in the kitchen to ensure Food Safety .
All staff involved in handling food products should have COVID vaccine certification. This is the primary step towards food protection and Food Safety in these COVID times.
Ask your staff to wear hand gloves, face shields and kitchen caps while in the kitchen to ensure
Food Worker Illness
If any worker involved in preparation , packaging or handling food products, suffer from communicable disease, give them an off. Or else, it can hamper your Food Safety .
The food industry is a very competitive market, and if you don't keep up with the latest regulations, you'll be left behind.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the regulations out there. How do you know which ones are important?