Importance of training in the field of Food Safety

Food safety has become an aspect of primary importance in a globalised world, where economic benefits in search of food quality and safety predominate in most cases. Clear examples of this are the latest food crises that have taken place worldwide.

While food safety consists in ensuring the population’s adequate nutrition in some countries, in others, all measures are aimed at avoiding any type of product contamination, not only spontaneous or accidental, but also intentional. After the terrorist attacks perpetrated in the USA, many companies have implemented additional security systems (Food Defence).

The economic instability together with other risk factors have caused the first objective to still be far from being achieved. This is why, in view of the huge amount of food thrown every day, many governments have decided to apply policies that avoid waste and, with it, guarantee the sustainability of the food system, a problem that involves all stakeholders in the food chain.

The second objective has the same relevance, as all efforts are aimed at preventing any food from affecting consumer’s health. To this end, food industries implement several food safety management systems in response to an increasingly demanding market. Consumers demand environmentally friendly, more natural and healthy products, produced ecologically, and without the subsequent addition of artificial preservatives. All this thanks to the consumer’s greater awareness of following a healthy lifestyle.

On the other hand, changes in eating habits, the addition of new culinary cultures, the rise in risk groups due to the population’s aging or the suffering of certain types of diseases, many of them of food origin, such as food intolerances and allergies, have led to changing production methods and the variety of products that can be currently found in the market. For example, the range of gluten-free or lactose-free products is increasing. To this end, and with the aim of ensuring allergens control in the food industry and mass catering, safeguarding the right to information so that consumers make informed decisions, a new European regulation has recently come into force somehow responding to consumers demands regarding marketed products composition and labelling (Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011).

In view of this, education and training in food handling and safety is considered a key factor to ensure quality, shelf-life of foods and consumers health. At domestic level, there is still a certain lack of knowledge of certain population groups regarding the main hygiene standards during handling; a key fact is the number of toxic infections outbreaks that take place at home. In 2013, one third of the outbreaks reported in the EU were due to poor handling by consumers (EFSA, 2015). On the other hand, when it comes to the professional sector, handlers admit to applying all these rules and, even then, there are cases of food poisoning. This indicates that they must improve hygiene measures and continue training in the field of food safety.

In accordance with European regulations on food safety, training is mandatory. This is also required by the different food safety management systems. Hence, there is a wide variety of training materials adapted to the needs of each food industry sector. Some examples are:

– Food safety in the cheese industry (materials developed within the framework of the European project LdV TOI FSC, 2010-2012).

– Food safety improvement in the meat sector (materials developed within the framework of the European project LdV TOI SAFEMEAT_EU, 2013-2015).

– ‘Good training practices guideline on food safety’ (materials developed within the framework of the European project LdV Partnerships, AIFooST, 2013-2015).


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