Food Safety Vs Food Hygiene
The first thing that should be taken into account when talking about food safety and food hygiene is that they are two different terms, although they are complementary.
We understand Food Safety as a set of strategies that ensure both physical and economic access for all people to a safe and nutritious food to meet food needs.
While food hygiene is the set of measures that ensure that food is safe and nutritious. It covers all those measures that must be taken to prevent the present risks, eliminating them completely or reducing them to acceptable levels so that they do not cause harm to the consumers. To carry out this prevention it is necessary to cover measures related to cleaning, installation design, maintenance, good practices, traceability, etc.
Currently, the current legislation that regulates the aforementioned aspects is the so-called "Hygiene Package" that consists of six Regulations that achieve a single legislation for the entire European Union. The main objectives are the transparent and possible application to all foods, although in some cases there are specific rules (such as foods of animal origin). These six Regulations are:
- Regulation (EC) 178/2002 establishing the general principles and requirements of food law.
- Regulation (EC) 178/2002 establishing the general principles and requirements of food law Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs.
- Regulation (EC) 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for products of animal origin.
- Regulation (EC) 254/2004 laying down specific rules for the organization of official controls on products of animal origin for human consumption.
- Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on official controls carried out to ensure compliance with the legislation on feed and food, animal health and welfare.
- Regulation (EC) 183/2005 laying down requirements for feed hygiene.
After this legislative renewal and many others that have occurred subsequently, the need arises on the part of the companies to comply with the requirements marked not only with the legislation but also those generated by consumers. This is how the need arises to establish food quality standards that combine quality and food safety.
These standards allow greater control in the process of manufacturing and handling of food within industries and in turn greater confidence in customers and end consumers, ultimately causing an opening in the market.
There are different standards of food quality (ISO 22,000, IFS, BRC, Global Gap) all aim to ensure the safety of products, international recognition, greater reliability of our products, commitment by the company, assurance of the specifications of the customers, but above all, as mentioned above, a greater TRUST.
For all the above, it must be understood that there are different levels of implementation according to the size and possibilities of the company, among them we find:
- Good handling practices (mandatory) that apply to start-up companies whose goal is to comply with hygiene practices at the time of handling to ensure that the food that reaches the final consumer is safe.
- Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) (mandatory): where the control is more exhaustive than the one mentioned above and whose objective is to reduce the associated hazards throughout the entire production process.
- Quality standards (voluntary nature): There are many quality standards specific to the sector or the type of product being manufactured, among the most common we find:
- GobalGap: certifications related to safety in agricultural practices.
- IFS and BRC: Related both with food processing quality and safety certifications.
- FSSC 22.000: specifies the requirements of a management system that ensures the safety of food.
The most important thing to understand about all this is that the vast majority of the food industries are micro-enterprises, therefore, flexibility in the application must be available, always taking into account compliance with current legislation.
This flexible application allows small companies to achieve the main objective that is the assurance of safety in their products and prepare them little by little to achieve possible voluntary certifications that allow them access to different markets.