This report studies food spoilage agents. By describing different food preservation methods, the paper highlights their strengths and weaknesses and chooses the most effective one accordingly. Further, the research describes the temperature control system and lists the steps that are taken to regulate the temperature of the system. The issues of personal hygiene and the cost of pest control are also covered in this report. Moreover, the paper discusses the premises and ways of promoting food safety. The report also gives a brief discussion concerning quality assurance and food hazard assessment risks. In the risk assessment, the report provides a supply scenario, according to which a teenager is employed to work alongside other employees. The paper concludes with a letter to the manager; it covers some possible ways of promoting food safety. At the far end, it provides an elaborated food guideline to be used by employees during training.
2.1 Categories of Food Spoilage Agents
The food spoilage is a deterioration process, in which nutrients, flavor, and texture of food change and become unfavorable for human consumption. Food spoilage agents can be classified into some categories. The first group comprises agents that are passed from one person to another. These agents are infectious microorganisms; hence, they can be detected only with a microscope. Examples are bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. They can be transmitted between people by sharing food that was touched by an infected person. Most food-borne diseases are caused by bacteria. The second category is the extrinsic factors. These agents affect the food from the external environment while it is processed and stored. They include temperature and oxygen conditions that are not good for food, especially proteins and vitamins in it. High temperature increases the number of enzyme reactions (Islami et al. 2010). In turn, an increase in the rate of enzymatic reactions breaks the protein content of the food substance. High temperature also makes food lose the water and dry up (Ahmed et al. 2010). When food loses the water, vitamins are also impacted; they spoil and get wasted. On the other hand, extremely low temperatures are also not conducive to most types of food. For instance, when carbohydrate food is subjected to a freezer for some time, its surfaces brake. These breakages are a perfect way for microbes to enter the food. The light can also lead to food spoilage. For instance, extreme light damages fats, vitamins, proteins, and pigments. It mostly affects liquefied food because of its sensitivity to the agent. Moisture leads to food spoilage by providing a favorable condition for the growth of microorganisms (Aishath et al. 2010). It also allows chemical reactions between different food components. Furthermore, it can also lead to the breakages of dry mixes and food powder by causing a lumping process on their surface. Oxidization is also an agent of the food spoilage that is worth mentioning. It affects the creation of compounds of undesirable flavors and odors that make food unsafe for human consumption. The third category includes intrinsic factors. They affect the multiplication and growth of microorganisms in food. Examples of these agents are pH, moisture content, nutrients, and food structure.
2.2. Methods of the Food Preservation
Food should be preserved in order to prevent spoilage and wastage of resources. Most important, it should be preserved with the aim to ensure the food security and safety of consumers. The preservation of food can be guaranteed by creating unfavorable conditions for food spoilage agents. An introduction of unfavourable conditions to food spoilers can be done with a variety of methods. Some methods of food preservation are smoking, drying, salting, canning, chilling, and freezing. The most commonly used methods in the food processing industries are freezing, marinating, and chilling.
Freezing is a quick food preservation method, in which the food is frozen, and the ice particles turn into the water vapor. The water vapor is then removed with the help of a vacuum. The entire process causes the dehydration of a food substance. Freezing methods depend on the food preparation process, which occurs at the stage of packaging and storing. This method preserves food with a low temperature that does not allow for the growth of microbes. A freezer is adjusted to various temperatures depending on the food type. For instance, meat is promptly frozen at temperatures below -180C. It is done immediately after the slaughtering exercise. On the other hand, freezing of fruits is effectively done in the form of syrup as it prevents oxidation and desiccation.
Freezing is used in industries that process food meant for astronauts, backpackers, and the military. It is also used in restaurants, shops, and homes for food preservation on a small scale. Examples of food that can be frozen are sodas, fruit, vegetables, milk, and ice-cream for astronauts. Generally, freezing can be applied for the preservation of all types of food. It is commonly used because it does not influence food nutrient characteristics (Barett & Lloyd 2011). However, freezing is one of the most expensive food preservation methods; moreover, it requires specialized equipment.
Marinating is a food preservation method that involves soaking of food into a seasoned liquid prior to cooking. The liquid used in the process is always either acidic or enzymatic. As a rule, it consists of a lemon juice, wine, or vinegar. It is always recommendable that the liquid’s pH is stabilized by adding a reasonable amount of pineapple fruit, kiwifruit, or papaya.
Marinating is commonly practiced in the preservation of flavored food. It can also be used in preserving and processing tough pieces of meat. When the meat is marinated, its tissues broke down and, thus, increase the surface area for the moisture absorption. It is not advisable to use a highly concentrated liquid as it might cause the defragmentation of the end product. The refrigerator can also speed up the marinating process. It is also important to marinate food inside a package that does not react with acid, for example, glass. Marinating is a preferred food preservation method because it reduces the chances of cancer, especially in alcoholic drinks. For example, marinating beer or wine reduces the chemical level that causes cancer when the products are consumed (Saranraj & Geetha 2012).
Chilling involves lowering the food temperature to a temperature of between 0oC to -5oC. This food preservative method protects food by inhibiting the growth of microbes that are highly aggressive food spoilage agents. Chilling increases the shelf- life of fresh food. It also eases other food processing activities such as the fermentation of beer.
The chilling preservation method is usually applied in food processing industries at the production level. This method is mostly used for preserving perishable food. It is also used for the wine and spirits storage. Just like freezing, the choice of chilling methods depends on the type of food and preferred temperatures. For example, a temperature of 80C – +80C is used for the preservation of food that has already been fully cooked.
In the preservation of liquid food by the use of a chilling method, the food substance is passed through a heat exchanger. Alternatively, the food substance can also be cooled indirectly by putting the container with food into a cooling medium, for example, the grounded water. Solid food can also be cooled by exposing it to direct contact with the cold air. In chilling the sugar, its crystals are first dried and only then intensively aerated. Aeration can be done by filtering the sugar content with the cold air. Generally, chilling helps in the preservation of food with the aim to extend their life beyond the normal spoilage period. However, the method is limited to a specific food. This fact disqualifies it as a universal food preservation method. In addition, chilling of food for a long time makes it stiffer.
2.3. Effectiveness of Food Preservation Methods
Even though there are many food preservation methods, some methods are more effective than the others. For example, marinating can be considered the best food preservation method because it is not limited to a specific type of food. It can be used to preserve many if not all types of food. Besides, it is the cheapest food preservation method. Most means used in marinating are readily available in the environment. Other materials such as a glass container, for example, can be easily purchased in the markets at a relatively cheap price. Most important, marinating saves human health and even life by reducing the chances of cancer, especially in wines and spirits. Freezing is also a good preservative method. However, it is not perfect because it requires specialized equipment. Just like in freezing, most means used in the chilling method are expensive. It is also limited to specific types of food. Therefore; chilling is not a good food preservation method.
3.1 Key Steps of a Temperature Control System
Most foods are preserved at specific temperatures. For instance, the preservation of fresh fish and meat is effectively done at the temperature range of between 10C to +10C. Meanwhile, milk and milk products, pasteurized canned meat, baked products, pizzas, prepared salads, unbaked dough, and pastry are preserved at the temperature of between 00C to +50C. For ensuring the appropriate temperature, the following steps are followed:
I. Identification of a preferred preservation temperature;
II. Development of a strategic plan for achieving the preferred temperature;
III. Monitoring of the obtained temperature;
IV. Recording of the achieved temperature.
3.2 Methods of the Safe Food Storage
The storage of food is done with the aim to reduce the food wastage and prevent its poisoning. There are many methods that are used to store food. These methods depend on a given type of food. While most foods such as dry cereals and flour can be stored in a cool and dry place, most fresh products are to be stored in fridges in order to elongate their spoilage time. Storing food inappropriate places inhibits the growth of bacteria, which are the major agents of food spoilage. Fridge and defroster are used most commonly for the temporal storage of food. It may also be a short time before cooking. As a rule, long-lasting food and cooking ingredients are stored in a cool and dry place, preferably in a cupboard. These storage facilities should be locked in order to avoid external spoilage.
3.3 Importance of Personal Hygiene in the Food Contamination Control
Personal hygiene should be the responsibility of every individual. It includes bathing twice a day, wearing clean clothes, and having kempt hair. Hygiene should be practiced at all levels; starting from the home, markets, and kitchen, and also at a dining table (Worsfold 2006). When hair gets into contact with food, it may lead to microbial and physical contamination. Therefore, it is advisable to put on a clean beard- and hairnets in order to reduce the chances of such food spoilage. Gloves should also be used in handling food with the aim of preventing the penetration of infectious agents.
3.4. Cleaning and Disinfection in Supporting the Production of Safe Food
Generally, cleaning makes a place or object pleasant and healthy. It involves the removal of germs, dust, and dirt particles from a surface. Nevertheless, some food spoilage agents are too small to be removed by the water cleaning alone. Their elimination requires the application of special detergents (Saad, See & Adil 2013). In order to support the production of safe food, food production sites, containers, and working surfaces should be cleaned with disinfectants as they prevent infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria from contaminating food. It can be done through the application of detergent. The process is commonly known as disinfection. Disinfection involves the application of different chemicals, for example, alkaline substances, on an object or surface with the aim to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. As a rule, disinfection and cleaning are carried out concurrently in order to ensure that the food processing environment and containers are safe (Okoje & Isah 2014).
3.5 Problems Associated with the Pest Control in Food Premises
Pests are external agents that cause food contamination and spoilage. Examples of food pests include rats, mice, and squirrels. First, they damage food storage facilities and then destroy food. It is recommendable to take necessary measures to control pests as soon as possible to prevent consumers from associated dangers. However, pest controlling practices can cause a number of problems. For example, controlling rodents require the application of chemicals such as pesticides. These chemicals contaminate the air around the storage site. They can also lead to food spoilage, especially when they get into contact with food. Often, the control of rats and mice aims at killing them. When not removed on time, dead rodents produce an unpleasant smell that makes the entire premise unfit for human use. Notably, rodents (mice and rats) themselves are dangerous to human health. They carry viruses, mites, and fleas that contaminate food and can cause damage to consumer’s health or even their death. The urine of mice causes leptospirosis. On the other hand, cockroaches carry over food poisoning organisms (Bondi et al. 2014).
3.6 Importance of the Hygienic Design and Construction of Food Premises
Food premises should be cleaned to ensure the maximum safety of food. Any surface inside the premise should be easy to clean and maintain. At the level of constructing a food premise, the following issues should be considered:
· Food premise activities should be appropriate.
· Enough operation space should be established within the premise.
· The entire premise should be constructed in such a way that cleaning activities are easily performed.
· The construction should also ensure a one-direction movement of food.
In terms of practicability;
· food contaminating agents such as dust and dirt should be eliminated,
· the entry of pests should be prevented, and
· pests’ sites should be destroyed.
3.7 Importance of Training as a Quality Assurance Mechanism
The quality assurance is a company’s guarantee to provide high-quality services to its customers. The aim can only be achieved by having qualified staff and employees. Regular training of employees improves their skills in food production and other activities associated with food. Training also improves the competence and requirements for the working life and quality assurance. It can be done in programs such as vocational training and appropriate education. The quality assurance is achieved through the identification of quality or, in other words, mechanisms of ensuring the quality of specific goods and services.
4.1 Food Hazard Risk Assessment and the Method Statement
Three staff members are working on different shifts. They buy food from a supplier and keep it in the store before preparing it for customers. They prepare and serve food to customers. A 16-year old boy comes to help in food transportation activities. His employment permit was issued to the management department by the local government authority. The company operates 24/7.
1. The manager follows the HSE guidance to identify associated risks.
2. He visits the kitchen, stock room, and other working areas and takes notes of possible situations that might cause risks.
3. He then checks HES for further guidance. He goes ahead to consult the staff members. The manager emphasizes necessities that would ensure the safety of a teenager.
4. He checks the accident book in order to determine whether a similar situation had occurred before. The manager notes down the possible risk targets. Further, he writes down control measures that should be established during a hut incident and highlights possible actions for the risk assessment.
5. He carries out a personal survey and shares the findings with the staff members. The risk is then chosen and made a part of the instructions for the new staff.
6. Finally, the manager makes the teenager aware of the risks. He carries out such risk assessment on a yearly basis.
The risk can be prevented by analyzing possible causes and deciding on the appropriate steps to be followed in preventing it.
4.2 A Letter to the Manager
November 11, 2015.
The General Manager,
Emirates Airline Catering Department, Arabs Airways, P.O Box, 43 Dubai.
Ref: IMPROVEMENT OF FOOD SAFETY
Let me start by giving thanks for the job you are doing at the Airline Company. Your sponsorship has enabled students to progress. To be precise, I write this letter to inform you of the measures I took for improving the food safety control system in the company. I focused on the business-to-table continuum. In line with my second strategy, I inspected the supply chain and reduced the chances of risk that may encounter the company. Finally, I developed a number of science-based safety strategies to guide me while dealing with food preservation activities such as salting and freezing.
4.3 Food Safety Guideline for the Legislation Compliance
1. You should exercise high standards of personal hygiene. It includes regular bathing and wearing clean clothes, preferably professional food handling garments as shown below.
2. You should handle food properly in order to avoid putting consumers at risk of food contamination. Food should not be removed or added in a way that makes it harmful. Be sure of the food quality.
3. Put on gloves to avoid food contamination.
4. You should label food correctly. Poor labeling might mislead consumers.
5. Hair is a harmful food contaminator; therefore, It should be prevented from contacting food by putting on beard covers and hairnets as shown below.
6. Have a sense of responsibility. The working surface, containers, and stores should be kept clean.
7. Proper recording of food should be ensured.
8. Unsafe or expired food should be withdrawn from the store immediately.
9. The incident report should be filled in after the food disposal.
10. Inform people why you disposed of unsafe food.
11. Ensure maximum hygiene, especially in handling food.
This report has researched infectious, intrinsic, and extrinsic categories of food spoilage agents. Bacteria are an example of infectious agents while the light, temperature, and oxygen are categorized under extrinsic agents. The paper has proved that food spoilage can be prevented by inhibiting food spoilage agents. In these terms, chilling, marinating, and freezing is considered good methods for food preservation. The three methods have been studied in more detail, and marinating was chosen as the best one as it is cheap, prevents cancer, and can be applied to all types of food. The report has also identified that storage measures depend on the type of food and preferred temperature. Thus, in setting a temperature control system, the first step is the identification of a preferred temperature. It is followed by choosing strategies for providing this specified temperature. It is then set, monitored, and finally recorded. Personal hygiene and pest control have also been pointed out as an important aspect of ensuring food safety. The report has also emphasized that a good food premise should allow a one-direction movement of food. This method is followed by other policies such as non-tolerance of pests within the premise. A risk scenario has also been provided in the report. It is evident that risks can be prevented by identifying them beforehand and then creating appropriate strategies for their prevention. The paper contains a letter to the manager that addresses the issues aimed at ensuring food safety. Finally, the report provides a flexible food safety guideline to be used by employees during training.