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noodles-187050_1920Human beings have always needed packaging in one form or another. Some of the earliest types of packaging are still around today, for example reed baskets. Initially all packaging was made from natural materials, because it had to be.

Woven bags and wooden boxes were among the first. As more materials were developed and processed they too became of use as packaging.

During the 19th century, and as a result of the industrial revolution, packaging became far more advanced. Tin cans and the first cardboard boxes emerged. Later still, in the early 20th century, plastics and aluminium were incorporated into packaging, around the same time we were becoming more and more aware of food safety and food hygiene.

We have made huge advances in both packaging and food safety.

Today packaging is a highly scientific field, it also requires technological and artistic understanding, as well as in-depth product knowledge. There are hundreds of high profile careers within the industry, including ‘Packaging Engineering’. Subjects studied for this qualification are varied, basic engineering, basic science, and business, food safety, recycling, even robotics! It is an industry that is always advancing.

Some functions of packaging;

Containment of product
Protection of product (physically and hygienically)
Product control- e.g. tamper evident opening
Product information
Marketing and branding of product/retailer
Provides controlled sized portions/amounts of product

As our global awareness of the environment increases, our priorities and requirements of what packaging should be changes. A now commonly used phrase – ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ is of great importance where packaging is concerned. Sustainable packaging is an area in which experts are particularly keen to develop.

Packaging has become more than just a means of easily transporting or containing products and is currently categorised into packaging types;

Primary – usually in direct contact with product e.g. brown kraft paper bags
Secondary- contains primary packaging and product, e.g. a multi-pack of crisp packets
Tertiary- involves warehouse storage and transport of bulk products, e.g. pallets

Within these types of packaging are more type-specific fields, e.g. drugs or food.

Food packaging is a specialist subject within the packaging industry, and works closely with the U.K’s governing body for all food legislation and safety, ‘The UK Food Standards Agency’. Food safety entails scientifically researched rulings on all aspects of food to prevent food borne illnesses.

We all expect there to be specific rules and guidelines in place for Dental Surgery Assistants, or Hospital Nurses to prevent illness or disease through the spreading of bacteria and viruses, but would you expect such rules to be in place for food? Well they are!

The UK Food Standards Agency provides the food industry and the general public with well researched, easy to access information regarding food and food safety, it also enforces laws on, for example, required standards on food packaging materials.

A great deal of scientific research is undertaken to ensure all materials which contact food at any stage of its handling is safe, from food containers, to the ink used in food product labelling. It is their responsibility to ensure the public is kept safe from harmful chemicals through related materials. There are specific rules in place for specific materials, plastics, for example have a whole list of laws for themselves.

On the UK Food Standards Agency website there are notes on ‘Guidance on the Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2009, available for associated businesses to read. It also provides information on which legal body represents particular materials, so you know who you are legally required to obey.

In 2004 a new European Regulation was introduced regarding food contact materials, and the UK Food Standards Agency was responsible for representing our countries interests. Their primary goal was ensuring UK citizens are still kept safe from risk of harmful chemicals in food contact materials when on holiday in Europe. This is also available to read on their website.

The development, research, and governance of food packaging both for supermarket food and for home-prepared food is vital not only for our convenience, but also for our safety. The next time you put your sandwiches into ‘food safe polythene bags’ or your children come home with sweets in’ candy stripe paper bags’ think how many experts have made it safe enough for us all to use.

Many thanks to the team at http://www.onlinepackagingshop.co.uk for helping with the article. When it comes to retail packaging supplies, all you need to do is visit them.

Let the click of the mouse steer you to the best place to buy Food Safe Packaging on the Internet. They have got your food safe packaging needs covered.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Christian_Schulze

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

salmonella-549608_1280Today’s post is a story that I heard from a colleague about a vegetable processing plant that became infected with salmonella and e. coli.

Please understand that this is a major international company and it is for this reason that I cannot disclose any names in the content of this article. This particular plant buys vegetables of all sorts directly from large farms and after grading, cleaning and sorting the vegetables are frozen and packed for the consumer and institutional markets.

The company in question works with just two or three trucking companies which bring the raw materials to the plant and deliver shipments of finished product to the local and foreign markets. Good relationships had been established with the trucking companies which included both the haulage companies and the factory itself helping each other out as much as possible as a matter of course. This factory had the best weigh bridge in the area and one of the favors that was performed on an ongoing basis was to weigh trucks of the said three companies even though the payload of the trucks had nothing to do with the business of the factory.

Complaints had been arriving at the factory’s quality control department stating that their products had tested positive for salmonella and e.coli. The factory checked all of their production lines to check that everything was working as it should and indeed no faults were found inside the factory itself.

A decision was taken to bring in an expert in the area of HACCP’s. and indeed it took him a mere five minutes to discover the source of the problem. Many different types of trucks were coming in to be weighed. Among them were trucks hauling the following cargoes: cages for chickens and turkeys being shipped from farms to slaughter houses, deep litter from dairy farms and poultry farms, various types of manure, and soil.

Trucks carrying these loads often waited for quite some time alongside trucks hauling vegetables for the factory itself. Dust and spray that inevitably flew from one truck to another was enough to cause the cross contamination of the vegetables with whatever the other truck was hauling.. This was a very basic and critical flaw in the work procedures and food hygiene standards of this particular factory. This situation was more than enough to cause this food hygiene crisis for this particular factory.

A decision was instantly taken to stop the weighbridge service to all trucks not carrying vegetables specifically for the plant. In this particular case, good intentions led to a very bad result.

red-chilli-powder-289140_1920This is a report pertaining to a serious mistake or food safety misjudgement by a colleague of mine regarding a substance known as Carboxymethyl Cellulose (or CMC for short). CMC is used as a thickening agent in the food industry. It is often used in the soft drink industry, dairy industry and ice cream industry. CMC is insoluble and requires a medium to carry it in suspension until it can be mixed into the liquid product. Such mediums can be sugar syrup or a vegetable oil. It is a problematic ingredient to use that requires a great deal of worker proficiency.

Products that contain Carboxymethyl Cellulose are usually marked with the ingredient code E466. When used correctly this ingredient is considered safe and it is a good source of additional cellulose (fiber).

My friend is a very experienced food technologist and he should have known better than to do what I am about to tell you. During a visit to his doctor he was advised to add more fiber to his diet. No being a great eater of vegetables my friend decided to find a more creative solution to adding fiber to his diet. At first he targeted dietary supplement that are available at any health food store or pharmacy. After a while he decided that these products were too expensive and so he started to look for even more creative solutions to adding fibre to his diet.

Working in the food industry meant that he had access to many types of raw materials. Initially he started to drink industrial grade pectin which he mixed in a little syrup using a blender and once the pectin was suspended in the syrup he then added fruit juice. Seemingly, bit by bit he turned himself into a sort of human guinea pig and decided to become more ambitious in his quest for the ideal fiber to reduce his cholesterol levels.

He decided to experiment with CMC. Starting with quite low proportions he slowly got more ambitious and began to steadily increase the dosage. After not seeing my friend for some time I decided to call his wife to find out what had happened to him. On hearing my voice his wife immediately burst into tears and told me the story about the CMC and went on to tell me that he had developed a very severe intestinal blockage and that the only way to save him was by opening his intestine in several places to extract the lumps of carboxymethyl cellulose that had formed inside his gut.

I decided to tell you this story to emphasize the point of exactly how dangerous it can be to use food ingredients in ways for which they are not intended to be used. My friend, who is actually an expert in food hygiene and food safety fell pray to his own need to medicate himself cheaply. He wagered that his knowledge and experience were enough to take a calculated risk in using industrial grade materials for use on himself in ways which had never been tested. Now he is paying the price for that mistake.

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A few weeks ago a leading Israeli fruit juice manufacturing plant had several hundred tons of water melon concentrate condemned by the ministry of heath on the pretext that there were unacceptable contaminants within the juice.

The concentrate in question was destined for use on the home market where it is used by the ice cream and iced lollie factories to manufacture a popular range of water melon flavored products. This set back has put additional pressure on a market sector which is already struggling to survive the current market recession.

Israel has suffered several consecutive years of very low rainfall. The sea of Galilee which is the major fresh water reservoir for Israel and it’s neighbours has reached dangerously low levels and as a result of this crisis water prices have risen several fold. As a result of this new state of affairs the profit margins in which vegetable and fruit growers operate have been cut even further and it is really uncertain from year to year if it will be worth growing anything at all.

The jordan valley which enjoys a milder winter than many other parts of Israel is famous for producing early fruit and vegetable harvests both for the home and export markets.

Seemingly, some of the areas water melon growers took it upon themselves to irrigate this years water melon harvest that was intended for industry with grey water instead od fresh water. The logic behind this decision being that grey water does not contain more contaminants than those already presant in ordinary soil.

What is not clear is if the water used for irrigation was indeed just grey water or if the suppliers of the grey water added certain quantities of first stage black water filtrate to the grey water that was being supplied to the farmers. It is also possible that the farmers used grey water for the initial stages of germination and consequent stages before the development of the water melon itself, switching over to fresh water once the melon began to develop. In any case, whatever the sequence of events was, contaminants entered the melons.

Samples of the water melon concentrate were tested both for chemical and microbial contaminants and found to test positive for both categories of contaminates within the concentrate. the concentrate was deemed to be a risk to public health and presented a food hygiene problem. The water melon concentrate was condemned and will not be used to make the iced products that it was intended to make.

The case is being looked into more closely by the public prosecutors office and charges are expected to be issued to those responsible for taking these regretable discisions to used contaminated water for growing water melons.

1573Add to Technorati FavoritesI was asked to help solve a problem concerning cross contamination and product quality control in one of the smaller fruit juice factories in our area yesterday. The factory in question has a capacity to produce 72,000 liters of various fruit juices, fruit drinks and fruit nectar and ice teas. The factory basically consists of two departments, a mixing department and a bottling department. The products are either packed in glass bottles, plastic bottles or tetra pak cartons.

All of the concentrates are poured into the 18,000 liter vats via a barrel tipping machine and a suction device for rotoplasts. The concentrates are pumped through a pipe console which directs the concentrates in to one of four vats in the mixing department.

The factory had started producing tomato juice several months ago and since the onset of this production the company has been experiencing problems with the shelf life and color of products. They had tried every way they could imagine to clean the pipes leading into the tanks but to no avail. Tomato paste is very thick and viscose which makes it a difficult product to work with. Tomato paste tends to travel through pipes in pulses and because of this it coats the pipes evenly from the inside. Thinner and less solid substances such as caustic soda solution tends to run along the bottom of pipes and will only reach the top extremities for brief moments. This makes cleaning tomato paste particularly problematic.

I could smell the presence of tomato concentrate coming out of all of the pipes. There was no question that there was a grave danger of the tomato residue in the pipes fermenting. After a little thought this was my solution to the problem:

1) only to use two of the tanks for producing tomato paste. The effect this would have would be to reduce any possible risk by 50% from the outset.

2) to install separate feed pipes into those two tanks for tomato paste. This would leave the pipes for other products uncontaminated by tomato paste.

3) To dilute the tomato paste with 50% chilled water in a 500 liter mixing tank which was already on site.(2 degrees centigrade) prior to being pumped into the tanks. This would cause the concentrate to be less viscose and much easier to clean during the CIP process.

4)To dissemble and to clean the pump on the barrel tipping machine after every use.

5) To dissemble all pipes weekly and to immerse them in caustic soda solution.

6) To clean all pneumatic valves with a special industrial pipe cleaning brush from all directions.

At the end of the meeting with the department head, production manager, head of quality control and the general manager, all my suggestions were accepted and will be implemented within one working week. I will conduct a follow up check one month from today.

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Beriberi is a disease which is cause by the lack of vitamin B1 or thiamine. The disease is very common in areas in which the inhabitants are suffering from advances malnutrition due to famine or in areas where the diet mostly consists of pure carbohydrates such as white rice and cassava. This disease was particularly prevalent in the last century in Asia due to the reliance on white rice to make up the bulk of the diet. The typical distended stomach of children in famine regions or in regions where white rice makes up more than eighty percent of the diet is due to thiamine difiency.

Although beriberi is not a true food hygiene issue I have decided to talk about it because it does have direct relevance to certain food safety issues.

Executives of the Similac baby food corporation in Israel were taken to court for selling infant milk formula which was lacking vitamin B1 (thiamine). Due to the rarity of the disease in Israel doctors were baffled by the symptoms that the children displayed. the disease was eventually diagnosed by an intern who remembered seeing the symptoms during a section of her studies which she conducted outside of Israel. Once diagnosed the infants were given Thiamine Hydrochloride which helped most of the effected infants to recover within the period a few hours. Some infants died before and shortly after the error was diagnosed and some suffer from severe neurological disorders including partial paralysis.

The executives responsible for the distribution were prosecuted for criminal negligence in the Israeli courts. The Israeli prosecutors office claimed that the executives had prior knowledge to the fact the formula which they buy from Germany was devoid of thiamine. The case continues.

Vitamin B1 is found in a wide range of foodstuffs but particularly in whole grain bread, eggs, cereals, whole grain rice, meat, yeast, fruit, green vegetables and legumes. Lack of vitamin B1 can cause high levels of lactic acid and pyruvic acid to develop in the blood due to the fact that lack of the vitamin interferes with the aerobic metabolism of glucose by interfering with the breakdown of glucose molecules, causing the body to function on an anaerobic pathway.

Indications of beriberi include fatigue, lethargy and complications of the disease effect the nervous, muscular, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems. the milk of a mother who has thiamine deficiency often causes the child to suffer from the deficiency as well. Beriberi can also be found in chronic alcoholics ans sometimes in patients who have undergone gastric bypass.

Symptoms of the disease include severe weight loss, fatigue, emotional disturbances and sensory perception, weakness and pain in the limbs, edema (swelling of body tissues) and irregular heart rate. When cases reach the advanced stage heart failure and death are not uncommon.

Beriberi causes wasting of peripheral tissues and nerves which leads to partial paralysis. It can also leas to a lack of sensation in the skin tissues. Beriberi can be cured by giving the patient a thiamine rich diet but the return to functionality will be much slower than by administering thiamine via injection.

The likelihood of seeing beriberi in the western world is very slim but if you are feeding your baby on milk formula it is worth knowing something about the symptoms of this condition to prevent the terrible tragedy that happened in Israel from happening again.

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Governments Must Enforce Food Hygiene Law and Stop Passing The Baby

Governments have a key role to play in the area of food hygiene. Only a few decades ago our eating habits were much different. Each nation had its traditions and idiosyncratic food culture. With the mass development of the tourist industry populations have discovered new food cultures and now demand’s products from around the world to add diversity and interest to their diets.

This presents challenges for the authorities of any country. The level of control which the authorities have in territories outside of their own is at least very limited. The quality control of food products and the procedures of growth and preparation of materials used in these products are put into the hands of industry on the understanding that companies function along national, regional and international guidelines.

Generally speaking, the quantity of newly imported food products coming through borders of countries far exceeds the capabilities of the relevant authorities of any specific country to regulate. Most authorities have massive back logs of product samples that are waiting to be checked. Just stocking these products is a logistical nightmare.

Although imported products bring an influx of new microbial species with them, so do tourists. Tourists that come back from foreign holidays do so with microbial samples of their experiences and the places they visited. Many of these tourists may work in the food industry which means that there is potential for new microbes to spread throughout populations. The influx of immigrants into western countries is also a major contributory factor in the introduction and spread of microbial Species.

The task of food hygiene law enforcement is carried out by governments at central, regional and local authority levels. As we go up the food chain toward the end consumer we find that central and local governments hare having to deal with subjective issues such as facial culture which complicate the enforcement of food hygiene laws in many instances. Immigrant populations claim the right to practice their own traditions and practices which is many instances is not conducive to the statutes of law in areas of food hygiene. Authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to relate to issues as objectively as they would like.

The role of government in the area of food hygiene is first and foremost to protect consumers from illness and injury that may be cause by food in an adequate manner. The policies of the government should consider the vulnerabilities of the population as a whole and/or the vulnerabilities of specific groups within the population.

It is the job of the government to divide this task to different authorities who’s job it is to oversee different aspects of food hygiene and safety control. It is also the job of government to see that information flows freely and effectively throughout this chain where and when applicable.

Governments should also provide assurance that food sold within its jurisdiction is suitable for human consumption. The government has to take ultimate responsibility for the safety of it’s citizens.

The government also has to maintain confidence in the public eye that internationally traded food is safe to eat and provide food hygiene educational programs that effectively communicate the principles of correct food hygiene principles both to agriculture, industry, trading and consumers alike.

Trade agreements with foreign countries should be made in such a way that the national interests of the population is safeguarded. When these conditions are breached action must be taken to safeguard the public interest.

The area of food hygiene is one which is constantly changing. The microbial world is very dynamic and changes from day to day. The actions of people within the food industry also changes and in many cases looks for ways to cut or minimize safety procedures and standards. It is the job of government to ensure that the financial gain of unscrupulous people and both in the national and international arenas do not harm the well being of the consumer and to everything within their power to convince foreign governments to control exported product quality.

© 2019 Food Hygiene Essentials