Food Safety In The Supply Chain

This sandwich looks delicious and should provide a healthy meal for the customer who orders this item from the restaurant menu. Do any of us ever think where our food comes from? Even though we have an abundance of food, most of us are unaware of the source of some of our foods. What is especially important is that food be safe throughout the supply chain. Food poisoning should not exist because the customer should not become ill after consuming a meal. Yet, on a daily basis, consumers get ill worldwide through food in the supply chain which is unsafe. The basic requirements of safe temperatures, hygiene, sanitation and food storage are not difficult to achieve. The food industry runs at a fast pace and it is difficult for staff to constantly remember the importance of food safety. A few years ago, an outbreak of listeria with cantaloupes in the United States was due to an unsafe source with 36 reported deaths. An E. coli outbreak from bagged spinach resulted in 7 deaths and 500 falling ill in North America. Food recalls happen on a daily basis. We forget how a simple peanut, for example, can wind its way into many products from ice cream to granola bars. When a food recall is in place, all possible food products with the suspected contaminant must be removed from the shelves. This brings us back to the sandwich displayed. What could happen if the wait staff used a fork to mix egg, then mixed the same fork with tuna, and then used the same knife from the tuna to butter the bread for the sandwich which had also touched the fork? These are examples in the preparation steps of making the customer’s sandwich. If the food supply chain is contaminated, either on a larger distribution scale or through preparation of menu items at the restaurant, then the resulting food product can cause an illness which should not occur in the first place and is preventable.

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ENVIRO-FOOD CONSULTING is a foodservice consulting business run by Sally de la Rue Browne, Certified Public Health Inspector and Food Safety Specialist.

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