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< prev - next > Food processing Food Hygiene and Safety KnO 100260_Making safe food (Printable PDF)
Making Safe Food
Practical Action
Whatever the name of the laws, their main content is likely to be similar and in this booklet the
significant parts of regulations that cover food hygiene and labelling are interpreted in a series of
illustrations. It is intended that these will guide producers to make safer food and accurate
This booklet is not a substitute for the regulations and readers are urged to consult the relevant
government department to confirm the national laws that are in force. The authors and
publishers of this booklet can accept no responsibility for any legal action taken against
producers. Reading this booklet is unlikely to be allowed as a defence against prosecution and it
is the responsibility of producers to ensure that their foods comply with national legislation.
Finally, and most importantly, although the food laws may be enforced by Public Health
Inspectors or people with similar jobs, it is the customer who must regularly inspect the foods
made by producers. If customers become ill from eating a food or think they are being cheated or
misled, they will not buy the food again. It is therefore in the producers' own interest to make
safe wholesome foods because the customers will return to buy again and the business will grow
and succeed. In the end the customer is the most effective food inspector.
In the following pages the regulations relating to aspects of food production are interpreted in
illustrations. The areas covered are:
the building used to produce foods
the equipment used to process foods
the personal hygiene of food handlers
processing methods, packaging and labelling
storage and distribution of the processed foods.
This booklet is intended for use by extension workers and trainers in food processing. The
following pages are suitable for .use as training materials or as posters to remind producers of
good manufacturing practice.
Food poisoning and its causes
The main cause of food poisoning is the activities of tiny creatures called microbes (or micro-
organisms). Microbes live almost everywhere: on animals and plants (hence on all fresh foods in
and on humans, in the soil, water, air and on all surfaces. There are many different types but the
most important for food hygiene are bacteria, yeasts, moulds and viruses.
One of the reasons why we process food is to eliminate and/or prevent the microbes present in
the foodstuffs from multiplying and spoiling food and potentially causing disease. Microbes
attack food tissue and break down its structure causing it to taste or smell 'off' and in some
cases making it poisonous.
Processing also aims to prevent food spoilage by de-activating enzymes and preventing oxidation.
Enzymes are natural biological agents which break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If left
uncontrolled, enzymes would continue to break down the food itself. Fats in food hove to be
prevented from reacting with oxygen in the air which can make them go rancid.
Agents that cause disease (pathogens) can be transmitted to humans by a number of routes -
soil, air, water, direct person to person contact and food. Some can be transmitted to food by
animals or by on item of equipment. Cross contamination occurs when contaminants are
transferred from one food to another via a non food surface, for example, utensils, equipment or
human hands.
Harmful micro-organisms that must be guarded against include bacteria like salmonella (in
poultry meat and eggs); E coli (found in animal products, faeces and soil); listeria (carried by
humans and animals); campylobacter (in poultry meat, milk and dairy products); and viruses like