Growing Concerns About Food Safety and Quality in Global Trade
- Food safety
- Food quality
- Food safety and quality concerns
- Global trade
- Food quality laws
- Food safety laws
- Agriculture food chain
- Policy issues in global trade of food
- Biological hazards
- Micro organisms hazards.
- Physical hazards
- Environmental hazards
- Political issues
- Public sector role in food safety
- Steps to be taken
Edible or potable substance (usually of animal or plant origin), consisting of nourishing and nutritive components such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, essential mineral and vitamins, which (when ingested and assimilated through digestion) sustains life, generates energy, and provides growth, maintenance, and health of the body.
It is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. In this way food safety often overlaps with food defense to prevent harm to consumers. The tracks within this line of thought are safety between industry and the market and then between the market and the consumer. In considering industry to market practices, food safety considerations include the origins of food including the practices relating to food labeling, food hygiene, Food additives And pesticide residues, As well as policies on biotechnology and food and guidelines for the management of governmental import and export inspection and certification systems for foods. In considering market to consumer practices, the usual thought is that food ought to be safe in the market and the concern is safe delivery and preparation of the food for the consumer.
It is the quality characteristics of food that is acceptable to consumers. This includes external factors as appearance (size, shape, color, gloss, and consistency), texture, and flavor; factors such as federal grade standards (e.g. of eggs) and internal (chemical, physical, microbial).
Food Safety and Quality Concerns
Specific concerns about food hazards have usually focused on:
- Microbiological hazards;
- Pesticide residues;
- Misuse of food additives;
- Chemical contaminants, including biological toxins; and
The list has been further extended to cover genetically modified organisms, allergens, veterinary drugs residues and growth promoting hormones used in the production of animal products. For more details see Annex 3.
Consumers expect protection from hazards occurring along the entire food chain, from primary producer through consumer (often described as the farm-to-table continuum). Protection will only occur if all sectors in the chain operate in an integrated way, and food control systems address all stages of this chain.
Global Trade of Food
The global trade of food is a diverse and complex operation and one in which most countries strive to take part.
Governments recognize that a strong national food industry is an important supplier of food to the population and a significant contributor to food security. They also view food exports as an important source of foreign exchange. The expansion and diversification of the food trade can be attributed to many factors.
First, the disciplines of food microbiology, food chemistry and food technology are continuously providing a broader range of foods by developing new and more sophisticated preservation, processing and packaging techniques which make foods safer, less perishable and more attractive to the consumer. Second, rapid transport and improved handling methods have reduced the length of time and difficulties associated with moving food long distances, thus allowing traders access to new and far-away markets. Third, consumers’ tastes and food habits have become more varied and their incomes and purchasing power have risen, stimulating the demand for traditional and new foods from other regions.
Food Quality Laws
The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) was passed unanimously by Congress and then signed into law by President Clinton on August 3, 1996. The FQPA amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and thus fundamentally changed EPA’s regulation of pesticides.
With regard to tolerances, the FQPA requires that EPA:
- make a safety finding when setting tolerances, i.e., that the pesticide can be used with “a reasonable certainty of no harm;”
- use this new safety standard to reassess, over a 10-year period, all pesticide tolerances that were in place when the FQPA was signed;
- consider the special susceptibility of children to pesticides by using an additional tenfold (10X) safety factor when setting and reassessing tolerances unless adequate data are available to support a different factor;
- consider aggregate risk from exposure to a pesticide from multiple sources (food, water, residential and other non-occupational sources) when assessing tolerances; and
- Consider cumulative exposure to pesticides that have common mechanisms of toxicity.
Implementation of food laws and regulations is very necessary. Following are the laws for the safety of the food.
The Pure Food Ordinance 1960
It deals with the preparation and the sale of the foods. Its main objective is to ensure the purity of the food which is to be supplied to the market.
The Cantonment Law of 1966
The previous law was not inforced in the cantonment areas so therefore a new law was made which was specially made for the cantonment areas. Both the laws are similar.
Pakistan Hotels and Restaurant Act 1976
This act control and regulate the price and standard of the food. The sale of beverages that are not good for the health also come in this section.
Punjab Food Authority has established ‘Punjab Food Authority Act 2011’ to ensure the availability of the safe and hygienic food for the human consumption.
The basic purpose is to set the standards and articles for the manufacturing, storage, distribution, sale and import of the food.
Agriculture Food Chain
In agriculture food chain, food safety deals with the following factors.
- Farming and agriculture
- Retail and food service
Logistics means the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation.
- We should refrigerate the perishable food within two hours. If the temperature is above 90 F, we should store food within 1 hour.
- Perishable foods such as meat should be wrapped properly so that there water don’t drip into other foods.
- High acid canned foods can be stored for12 to 1 months if remain unopened.
- Low acid canned foods can be kept for 2 to 5 years,if unopened can remain in good condition.
- To maintain the quality of food while freeing of poultry and meat in its original package, we should wrap the package again with the foil or plastic warp which is suitable or recommended for the freezer.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling the food atleast for 20 seconds.
- Always keep raw meat, poultry, fish and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats wash cutting board, knife, and counter top with hot soap water.
Farming and Agriculture
When it comes to farming we all want to grow safe and healthy. But the question is how to grow safe. It’s not always the vegetables grown in home will be safe than the commercial ones.
Any crop can develop food-borne illness. To overcome these issues we have to keep the following things in mind.
- Manure application
- Flood Waters
- Contamination avoidance
- Harvesting tools
- Cleaning procedure
A general definition of a hazard as related to food safety is conditions or contaminants that can cause illness or injury. Biological hazards include micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses , yeasts, molds and parasites.
Bacteria can grow in food and in the body while Viruses and parasites can grow in body only. Percentage of food borne illness attribute to pathogens is.
- Bacteria 30%
- Protozao 30%
- And Viruses 67%
Bacteria can be in vegetative and spore stage. They can be spoilage or pathogenic bacteria.
To avoid or overcome the biological hazard of the food we have to take following steps.
- Practice good personal hygiene. We should wash hands regularly. It’s one of the best way to prevent the transmission of infection.
- Keep your immunization up to date.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- Handle and dispose of waste materials safely.
- Gloves and masks must be used.
- Bloody fluids should be handled with care as if they could be infectious.
Micro-organisms are too small to be seen by naked eye. Micro-organisms live everywhere, in air, dirt, water, fresh and salt water, skin, hair, animal fur and plants. Micro-organisms are divided into different categories depending on their function. Some are harmful and some are beneficial. A few important in food are yeasts, mold, bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Sometimes they can be pathogenic. Most of the micro-organisms are used for the benefit of the human race but they can be a hazard too. How they can be hazard?
It cause an intoxication that affects the (sporeformer) central nervous system and causes shortness of breath, blurred vision, loss of motor capabilities and death.
It causes an infection with mild flulike (non-spore former) symptoms. Severe forms of listeriosis are possible in people with weakened immune systems, causing septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis and stillbirths.
It Causes an infection with the following (non-sporeformer) symptoms: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and headache. Death is possible in people with weakened immune systems.
Physical hazards include the harmful matters which are not normally found in the food. When a consumer mistakenly eats the foreign material or object it will cause choking, injury, or other adverse health effects. Physical hazards are most commonly reported consumer complaints as the injury occurs immediately or soon after eating the food, and we can easily identify the cause of hazard.
Examples of physical hazards in food are Bottles, jars, light fixtures, thermometers, gauge covers, Machinery, agricultural fields, buckshot, birdshot, wire, staples, buildings, employees.
Policy Issues in Global Trade of Food
Food safety regulations and standards can significantly affect the trade.
This reflects growing use of measures globally in response to the rapid increase in scientific and technical understanding of food-borne hazard to human health. Some countries denied access to export markets because they fail to meet food safety standards.
They may also get banned by other countries. Outright bans are applied as temporary measures when the food again get standardize it can be exported to other countries again.
Foodborne illness is still the most prevalent risk with food. It’s made even more so by high-density, low-sanitation livestock facilities, among other factory farm practices, which spread disease frighteningly rapidly.
76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year. More than 300,000 people are hospitalized every year for food related illnesses and more than 5,000 of those people die.
Of course, this can be mitigated with better education about food safety and preparation, but it could also be mitigated by better practices on the production, processing, and distribution end.
While bacterial and viral contamination that cause foodborne illness are most people’s primary food safety concern, there are also a wide variety of other substances that leech into food and can cause health issues.
Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium are occasionally found in food; ingesting heavy metals can lead to serious cases of poisoning, as well as related diseases like Mina Mata disease from mercury and Itai-Itai disease from cadmium.
Pesticides are a food contaminant that warrant special mention. Pesticides are used in many agricultural operations, from fruit and vegetable production to animal feeding operations.
Exposure to pesticides has been linked to infertility, birth defects, nervous system damage, poisoning, and even cancer. Washing produce is an important way of reducing pesticide exposure, but there are also organic farmers who do not use synthetic pesticides to begin with. This is unfortunately the exception to the rule.
One of the side effects of treating dairy cows with Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (commonly known as rBGH) is also increased risk of udder infection.
Rather than simply halting use of the hormone, many American companies began using antibiotics as a preventative measure instead.
Widespread overuse of antibiotics can cause the development of antibiotic resistant diseases and infections. Bacteria can rapidly evolve this trait with prolonged exposure to antibiotics and using antibiotics in a preventative manner rather than therapeutically can lead to diseases and infections that are untreatable.
Agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution.
Soil degradation, water and air contamination, destruction of ecosystems, and climate change are some of the negative ecological consequences of agricultural operations.
While there is increasing awareness of these issues and innovative attempts to address them, the de facto practices of the agriculture industry remain troubling.
Packaging of Food Items
There may be some problems occur during the packaging of food items. So packing must be safe and clean.
- Variations of export prices for major grain products.
Global grain supplies as a percentage of global gain consumption.
Steps to be taken”
- Prevent cross contamination when storing food in the refrigerator.
- Use healthy food for trade which must be disease free.
- Take care during handling and transportation of food item.
- Be aware that quality of food remain good.
Efforts to meet food safety standards in export markets must be judged by whether such efforts generate economic gains for the domestic industry or create positive spillovers for food safety in the domestic food system. More generally, efforts to improve food safety in developing countries must be evaluated in terms of their impact on food security and poverty alleviation.
Food safety issues will require policymakers in developing countries to develop better capacity for evaluating policy trade-offs as they seek to enhance food security or to expand income generation from food trade.
The global nature of the food supply will also require developed countries to consider how they might better assist developing countries to address food safety.