Food Safety and Food Quality

Food Safety is defined as the assurance that the food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use. Thus food safety assurance involves the reduction of risks which may occur in the food. Food Quality is the quality characteristics of food which is acceptable to consumers. The quality includes shape, color, quality, grade, texture, and flavor etc. International Organization for standards defines Food Quality as the totality of features and characteristics of a product that bear on its ability to satisfy the standards or needs of the customer.

The Quality of Food only exists when the product complies with all the needs of the customer. According to the customer, quality is based on a number of subjective and objective measurement of the food product. These measures include purity, flavor, color, maturity, safety or any other characteristic of the product. Whereas, we can say that Safety is a component of Quality. Experts say that Safety is the most important factor or component of Quality as lack of safety can lead to serious consequences like the serious injury or even death of a person.

Why is Food Safety important?

Foodborne illnesses are a preventable and underreported public health problem. These illnesses are a burden on public health and contribute significantly to the cost of healthcare. They also present a major challenge to certain groups of people. Although anyone can get a foodborne illness, some people are at greater risk. For example:

  • Children younger than age 4 have the highest incidence of laboratory-confirmed infections from some foodborne pathogens which can be easily carried away and be transferable.
  • People older than 50 years or those with reduced immunity are at greater risk for hospitalizations and death from intestinal pathogens commonly transmitted through unhygienic foods.

Why is the Food Quality important?

Food quality is an important aspect of manufacturing food because consumers are susceptible to any form of contamination that may occur during the manufacturing process. Many consumers also rely on manufacturing and processing standards, particularly to know what ingredients are present, due to dietary, nutritional requirements or medical conditions like diabetes, or allergies.

Safety differs from many other quality attributes since it is a quality attribute that is difficult to observe:

  • A product can appear to be of high quality, i.e. well colored, appetizing, flavorful, etc. and yet be unsafe because it is contaminated with undetected pathogenic organisms, toxic chemicals, or physical hazards.
  • On the other hand, a product which seems to lack many of the visible quality attributes can be safer.

Obvious quality defects can result in consumer rejection and lower sales, while safety hazards may be hidden and go undetected until the product is consumed. Since assuring safety is vital to public health, achieving safety must always take precedence over achieving high levels of other quality attributes.

Safety and quality assurance should be ongoing processes incorporating activities beginning with selecting and preparing the soil and proceeding through to consumption of the product.

Both safety and quality assurance should focus on the prevention of problems, not simply curing them since, once safety or quality is reduced, it is virtually impossible to go back and improve it for that item. It is possible, however, to assure that the same problem does not affect future products.

Although safety is a component of quality, safety assurance frequently is not included in quality assurance programs. Sometimes safety and quality assurance may be separate but complementary programs to ensure safety issues receive appropriate emphasis. The importance of safety to consumer health makes it imperative that safety programs be a primary component of all produce production and handling operations.

Role of FSSAI in Food Safety and Food Quality –

The food industry can undertake numerous tasks to ensure food safety.

  • It may conduct hazard analysis test in order to identify hazards and finally removing them.
  • It can also establish critical limits for each controlling point, procedures in order to maintain food making actions and to establish verification procedures in order to confirm the corrective steps taken.
  • Extensive Training should be given to the Employees since they are also responsible for the right handling of food products.
  • Distributors must ascertain the quality check of food articles.
  • Give proper time to advertising, promotional activities and for marketing business. It is at this stage only that attracts customers.

On the part of consumers, the food quality and safety steps are to be performed like washing hands before handling, keeping raw material separate from the processed food, consuming of food article within the prescribed time, analyzing of the food ingredients according to their needs and many others. The food control safety measure is the requirement in order to bridge the gap between safe food and adulterated food. The food industry needs standards that are more flexible and which is also efficient in producing and marketing food and thus ultimately serving the consumers with a protective sheet.

If you want to apply for Food License, you can go with FSSAI Food License.

Related Topic: How to get FSSAI Product Approval