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Keeping Safety on the Menu: Why Food Safety Matters

The world we live in today is unlike the one we lived in 10 years ago. Whilst developments in technology and the rapid expansion of the food industry has made food more accessible and multi-faceted than ever; it is becoming increasingly harder to protect a fast-growing supply of food from the many risks faced by the industry.

More than 200 modern-day diseases are caused by harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances in unsafe food.

Adding to that, food safety, nutrition, and food security all work together. When food is not safe, it can lead to disease and malnutrition. Infants, young children, the elderly, and the ill are especially at risk.

Now more than ever, consumers expect to be protected against a myriad of risks associated with the food they purchase and consume. It’s little wonder then that food safety has become top of mind for many of our clients and suppliers!

“Thorough, professionally conducted food safety audits – both internal and external – have never been more important,”

South Africa’s food safety standards are high, and many businesses expect nothing but the best from their suppliers when it comes to safe food products. The consequences of failing a food safety audit not only potentially places the consumer at risk, but it’s also a fast way to damage a relationship between a client (such as a retailer) and a food manufacturer.

As with most things in life, prevention is better than cure. “Anyone in the food industry has to be on top of the food safety game nowadays,” she says. “Timeous, detailed internal audits can go a long way to getting all the correct precautions in place before going through a certification audit.”

Recent events like the Listeria outbreak in South Africa has done much to highlight the importance of food safety and food safety audits. Due to the onset of Covid-19, handwashing now plays a much more significant role than before, and many players in the food industry have introduced additional PPE, equipment and safety measures to mitigate this significant risk.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many changes and challenges but has also highlighted the importance of cross-contamination and how easily viruses (and bacteria) can be transferred.  With the focus on touchpoints, hand washing, hand sanitizing and social distancing, this is resulting in a positive effect on the prevention of bacterial cross-contamination.  It was always understood that hands should be washed and sanitized, but now it is much more clearly understood by all parties involved, from visitors, contractors, staff and all management.

“Whilst regular and proper food safety audits are immensely important, sufficient and regular staff training and awareness is key,” says Lerina.  We face daily production challenges, and if the reason behind all the control measures implemented is communicated clearly, frequently and effectively, a clear understanding will result in a robust food safety culture within the workplace.  It is of vital importance that food safety moves parallel with production to have the best end result and the consumer’s best interest at heart.

It’s also very important for every single staff member in a food working space to understand the risks involved with unsafe food and follow food safety steps consistently and with care. “That’s where the battle against unsafe food is won, every day.”

As part of our commitment to providing our customers with the service of cleaning and sanitizing, which forms part of the customers’ Food Safety Management System, Ecowize has obtained ISO22000 certification and are annually audited for conformance to this standard.

Want to ensure your business is at the top of its game when it comes to food safety? Speak to an Ecowize Food Safety Specialist today! Certified in 2012, we are perfectly positioned to help you to get the right systems in place, eliminate risks and ace both internal and external food safety audits.

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