A recent survey of a few eminent companies which are known for its best food product safety and hygiene practices are not going down well with the employees. There has been a considerable report in the employee absenteeism in the corporate because of severely affected foodborne diseases. Despite, the supreme quality food served on the table such grave issues have been noted. They lacked a Routine Microbiological Testing!!
The outcome of the much-awaited reports said that the outbreak of such undesirable diseases was because of microbial food contamination affecting product safety. Microorganisms are microscopic creatures, which when digested by human bodies, will affect their well being and pose several health-related problems. Thus, corporates have to keep a check on the food supply source at the premises and employee health for achieving their end goals of product safety.
It is essential for a corporate body to know the causes of organisms causing decay, its consequences and the precautions to such issues. The benefits of overcoming these hurdles are manifold if a corporate body religiously follows a routine microbiological testing for product safety.
Why should Corporates follow a Routine Microbiological Testing?
Biofilm formation in food processes-
A biofilm comprises any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often also to a surface. Micro-organisms can produce biofilms if it comes in contact with food processes and possibly in moist surfaces. These biofilms can grow in any suitable conditions, for eg., the process equipment used in food preparation is not cleaned and sanitised, through raw materials, the air in the manufacturing area, chemicals employed, process surfaces, or food vendor personnel. Common foodborne pathogens such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, have readily been found to produce biofilms on surfaces.
The packaging of food products- Packaging serves as a major defense against external hazards. However, undesirable interactions between packaging material and food can give rise to potential problems, e.g. migration of packaging components or penetration of micro-organisms through packages.
The risk connected to packaging material is the potential transfer of food spoilage or pathogenic organisms to the packed food affecting product safety.
Microorganisms that can cause smell or taste defects, such as the volatile,
foul-smelling compounds produced during microbial metabolism.
Microbial spoilage is the unappealing and unacceptable foodstuff attained due to the natural process of microbial metabolism. Since many foods provide ideal conditions for the growth of micro-organisms, spoilage is a constant concern in the modern food processing industry causing severe economic losses to the manufacturers and retailers. A routine microbiological testing will help to know the food products that no longer remain fit for consumption.
Foodborne infection- Foodborne infection is very much favorable for microbial contamination in food. If such contaminated food is served in the company, handled by sick food handlers or sick employees share food, then the food is likely to get contaminated.
Who is at Risk if Routine Microbiological Testing is not done?
Foodborne diseases pose a risk to everyone in the Corporates. Some employees are more sensitive to infection and show more prominent symptoms. These sensitive subpopulations in the corporates include immunologically weak men, women, pregnant women, young adults, house-keeping staff and immuno-compromised individuals such as persons with those undergoing chemotherapy.
The precautions that corporates should follow for product safety and ensuring routine microbiological testing are:
1. Ensuring the design of the equipment and process line in the food processing, either by food vendors or the food manufacturing company from where the corporates sources food, is maintained and sanitised. This prevents the formation of the biofilm, improving production hygiene and product safety.
2. Keeping a check on the packaging material of the food and implementing food audits for the same. Also, ensuring whether the packaging units have HACCP and comply with FSSAI.
3. Corporates should conduct a routine microbiological testing to maintain the food standards and improve the quality (if it’s found to be unsafe). Food Analysis is a pivotal step that may avoid organisms causing decay.
4. The use of safe and clean raw materials for food preparation by food vendors should be checked in the corporate offices. Food raw materials should be kept in proper storages where it cannot be damaged by moistness and impure air.
5. Equipment that is used in food processing like slicers and chopping boards, mixers and ovens, utensils, kitchen platforms, sink, etc in the corporates should be cleaned and maintained by the food handlers and others who are employed for the job.
The precautions, if put to proper use, can work better for the wellbeing of the corporates. However, the benefits to the corporates cannot be neglected.
Corporates on incorporating a Routine Microbiological Testing can be benefitted in the following ways :
1. A routine microbiological testing in the corporate leads to the prevention of foodborne diseases and the spread of further infection within the employees on the premises.
2. Reduction in the employee absenteeism leading to efficiency and constant productivity of work is achieved with a routine microbiological testing. Also, this helps meet the expectations of the company goals and the plans.
3. Employee satisfaction of working in an environment which is free of microbial contamination and availability of safe and pure food.
Hence, the importance of adopting a Routine Microbiological Testing in the Corporates cannot be neglected and spontaneous actions should be taken for the same.
What should a Corporate entity do next???
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