Food safety is everywhere we go. From our kitchens to food processing centres and restaurants, food safety is used to ensure the quality of our meals. When it comes to food businesses, Food Safety Supervisor NSW or Food Safety Supervisors (FSSs) are responsible for providing the standards of food safety. They oversee many aspects of food handling to avoid the risks of the following scenarios that could cause damage or injury to food businesses, their employees, and their consumers.
What are examples of these scenarios? Let’s take a closer look.
Cross-contamination is when one substance not intended to mix with another substance, such as raw meat and vegetables, ends up mixing due to poor handling. In the case of the given examples, bits of raw meat may end up finding their way into a salad by using the same chopping board without cleaning it first.
This could be very dangerous for consumers, as cross-contamination could lead to bacterial poisoning, such as E. coli and salmonella. There are also food allergies to take into account; food contamination could trigger attacks in people for those with dietary requirements.
Cross-contamination isn’t the only source of poisoning, bacterial, or otherwise. Improper storage, preparation, and consumption of foodstuffs can also lead to food poisoning. Leaving food out in the heat or freezing it for too long can cause bacteria to grow and fester; not adequately washing or preparing food items can lead to the same outcome. Handling food with unclean hands is an example of unsafe food handling practices that FSSs strongly advise against.
The consequences of unsafe food preparation are myriad. From a health perspective, improper food preparation can lead to nausea or vomiting. In other instances, it could lead to
severe outcomes such as seizures, brain damage, or even death.
DISREPUTE FOR YOUR ESTABLISHMENT
In some instances, improper food handling can lead to an establishment’s reputation taking a hit. With today’s extensive connectivity through the internet and smartphones, bad food isn’t just bad food – it’s a mark against a food business when it’s posted on social media sites. All it takes is for one social media post to go viral for an establishment to be known as “that place that serves bad food” or “that place that poisons their customers” forever.
FINES AND PENALTIES FOR BREACH OF FOOD SAFETY
It should also be noted that it’s technically unlawful to handle food improperly. Food establishments are obliged to appoint at least one FSS before they prepare their first dish as an establishment, and with good reason. Business owners and proprietors are responsible for their business, and practising food safety processes is one of their responsibilities. Failure to adhere to such practices, if reported or discovered through independent investigation, can lead to fines or penalties being levied against the establishment.
More extreme consequences include legal proceedings, financial ruin, and loss of business. There have been cases of prominent establishments having to settle lawsuits filed with food poisoning as the main reason. As an example, Maple Leaf Foods, a Canadian food distributor, paid close to $27 million to victims of a listeria outbreak that killed 20 people and sickened thousands more. Maple Leaf Foods was found to have distributed contaminated meat to those affected.
FSSs have a tough job, but it’s also a very rewarding one. They’re responsible for making sure that food is safe for consumption, whether it’s from a coffee shop or a fine dining restaurant. Sign up to be an FSS through a Food Safety Supervisor NSW online course today.