Food safety control programs
Each nation has a responsibility to ensure that its citizens enjoy safe and wholesome food. Governments aim to identify major food safety issues that can then be controlled through the development and imple-mentation of targeted food safety control programs. This can be achieved either through legislation, or the use of standards or codes of practice. At the interna-tional level, the WHO and the FAO have worked since the 1960s on developing food standards that aim to protect the health of consumers and facilitate inter-national trade of foods and animal feeding stuffs. This work is carried out by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), an intergovernmental body managed by the FAO and WHO. Food safety stan-dards developed by the CAC serve as the baseline for harmonization of global food standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and recommendations. Harmonization of standards and recognition that dif-ferent national food safety controls are equivalent are enshrined in the international agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The purpose of food safety legislation is to protect consumers’ health and interests by providing controls throughout the food chain. A recent overhaul of EU food safety legislation now places the primary respon-sibility for food safety with the food business opera-tor. It also recognizes that food safety must start at primary production (i.e., the farmer) and places increased importance on the safety of animal feed. This concept of food safety control from “farm-to-fork” or “gate-to-plate” has been endorsed interna-tionally, but implemented differently in different countries.
The traditional “inspection and detection” aspects of food safety control are now being replaced with strategies for prevention of hazards occurring in the first place. In many countries, food businesses are now legally obliged to adopt the principles of HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) in order to predict what biological, chemical or physical hazards are likely to occur in their process, so that they can implement control measures to prevent them happening.