Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra – Slovakia
Food Safety in Food Production
Most food is now produced by large farms, processed industrially, and sold in supermarkets and multinational food outlets. Modern food production has reduced the cost and increased the variety of food available, but this centralisation of the food supply presents an opportunity for foodborne pathogens and toxins to infect and poison large numbers of consumers. Furthermore, the globalisation of food trade means that food can become contaminated in one country and cause outbreaks of foodborne illness in another. Modern food production is so complex that a systematic approach is needed to identify the hazards at each point in the food chain. Food safety refers to routines in the preparation, handling and storage of food meant to prevent foodborne illness and injury. From farm to factory to fork, food products may encounter any number of health hazards during their journey through the supply chain. Safe food handling practices and procedures are thus implemented at every stage of the food production life cycle in order to curb these risks and prevent harm to consumers (Balkir et al., 2021).
Occupational Health and Safety in Food Production
Occupational safety and health (OSH) problems of the food industry have not been generally perceived as a serious issue in the same way as other industries such as healthcare, transportation, mining, and construction sectors. Statistics from various countries show that OSH issues from the food sector have one of the worst records in the manufacturing industries. There are also evidences that some OSH aspects in the food industry are getting worse. Despite global economic declines in the recent years, the food and drink businesses have continued to expand in response to the growing worldwide demands for processed foods and drinks. In this context of expansion and intensified competition, the food industry has experienced rationalization, restructuring, and a high level of mechanization, in both the industrialized and developing countries (ILO, 2007).
As a result, the overall worldwide employment levels in the sector have continued to expand, particularly in the highly capital-intensive drink industry has suffered. Moreover, mechanization has often had the effect of increasing the work volumes and the resulting stress levels of workers, as well as increasing the number of monotonous and repetitive tasks, with a consequent rise in the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Increased automation has also been accompanied by higher noise levels, which has led to more workers suffering from hearing impediments. Other common OSH problems in the food industry arise out of handling sharp cutting tools, exposing dusts in the air, contacting with infected animals, and increasing use of hazardous chemicals (www.who.int).
Balkir, P., Kemahlioglu, K., Yucel, U. 2021. Foodomics: A new approach in food quality and safety. Trends in Food Science & Technology, vol. 108, p. 49-57.
International Labour Organization (ILO). 2007. The impact of global food chains on employment in the food and drink sector. International Labour Organization (ILO) Sectoral Activities Programme, TMFCE/2007.