Going Global: Food Safety and Hygiene in America
This week we move to America and discuss their food hygiene and safety law and regulation in the states. Food safety in America is a critical concern to protect public health and prevent foodborne illnesses. The United States has established several strict regulations, agencies, and practices to ensure the safety of the food supply. As a result, foodborne illnesses have decreased significantly over the years, but there is still room for improvement.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 48 million people in the United States get sick each year from foodborne diseases. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalised, and 3,000 die. These numbers are staggering and highlight the importance of food safety and hygiene.
What is the Food Safety Modernization Act?
The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aims to prevent foodborne illnesses by focusing on prevention rather than reaction. The FSMA requires food facilities to have a food safety plan that identifies potential hazards and outlines preventive measures to address them. The FDA also regulates food labelling to ensure consumers have accurate and clear information about the contents and potential allergens in food products. Food labels must comply with specific requirements regarding nutrition facts, ingredient lists, allergens, and more.
What is the Food Safety and Inspection Service?
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) oversees the safety of meat, poultry, and processed egg products. The FSIS inspect and regulate slaughterhouses, processing plants, and other establishments involved in meat and poultry production. They require that meat and poultry products be inspected before and after slaughter to ensure that they are safe for consumption.
Environmental Health and the Food Industry
Maintaining food safety and hygiene plays a crucial role in the food industry. Restaurants and food establishments are required to follow strict guidelines for food handling, storage, and preparation. They also use Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to identify potential hazards and implement preventive measures. It is used by food manufacturers, processors, and distributors to ensure the safety of their products. HACCP plans are required for certain high-risk foods.
Along with these measures, federal and state agencies task Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) and Food Safety Officers to inspect and enforce such food establishments ensuring all regulations are met. Violations will lead to warnings, fines, product recalls, or even closure of facilities. The goal is to hold food producers accountable for maintaining safe practices.
Public Awareness and Consumer Education
Despite these efforts, foodborne illnesses will occur, and consumers need to take precautions when handling and preparing food. Consumer education, public awareness and education campaigns play a crucial role in promoting safe food practices. Government agencies, non-profit organisations, and industry stakeholders provide resources and information to help consumers understand safe food handling, storage, and preparation techniques. For example, the CDC recommends washing hands frequently, cooking food to the appropriate temperature, and storing food at the proper temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
In conclusion, food safety and hygiene are critical components of the food industry in America. The government, the food industry, and consumers all play a role in ensuring the safety and quality of the food supply. Although progress has been made, there is still room for improvement to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses and keep consumers safe.
Gautam Gurung ~ Recruitment Consultant, Commercial Division (Food Hygiene, Health & Safety, Licencing and Planning)
Nick Cheung ~ Lead Marketing Executive
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