“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” famously said the Ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates (400 BC), to emphasize the link between nutrition and health. Indeed, there’s no way to disagree: Food gives us life, health — and often, a lot of joy. On the other hand, food can often be a fragile good. If not handled and preserved well, it can harm us directly.
Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemical substances can cause more than 200 different diseases in humans. According to the WHO, about one in 10 people fall ill after eating contaminated food every year. Annually, this results in 420,000 deaths and a loss of USD 110 billion. Thus, especially as the global awareness and sensitivity about hygiene have been risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, food safety protocols must be more robust than ever. (It’s important not to confuse “food safety” with “food security”, which the UN defines as access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet dietary requirements for everyone, at all times.)
Here’s a look at how facilities that produce, handle, and prepare food can maximize food safety and ensure food brings health instead of disease.
Optimize the Facility Layout
Food safety isn’t just a daily ritual, but it can be designed as an integrated experience. Managers can optimize the hygiene and sanitation requirements of a food production facility by considering its layout and design.
While doing so, they must analyze the answers to the following questions, as highlighted by the FoodSafetyTech:
- Does your facility have natural zones?
- Is it comprised of multiple buildings?
- Are certain defined areas more high-risk than others?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, it’s imperative to have the right access solutions in place. This way, facility managers can regulate the people flow, grant restricted access to more sensitive areas, seal contaminated sites — and potentially enhance hand hygiene with touch-free entrance technologies.
Physical Security is a Critical Component of Food Defense
In addition to hygiene, a food production facility is a critical infrastructure that might be vulnerable to some physical security risks including intruders and theft — like many mass-produced goods. Thus, physically securing food production facilities is also a fundamental component of food defense and safety.
It’s the duty of security managers of food production facilities to adopt a holistic and proactive approach to security.
This might entail security and access control solutions such as video surveillance and intrusion detection systems, as well as the entrance infrastructure to fit with the needs of the facility.
For instance, an access control solution like turnstiles is favored by many large food production and preparation facilities for staff. This way, security staff can manage the number of people in the facility more efficiently, and prevent risks such as tailgating.
All the security procedures in food production facilities must be in line with the recommendations from authorities such as International Featured Standard (IFS) Food.
An Integrated System for Food Safety
While safeguarding something as crucial as food, it’s vital to combine a “top-down” approach like daily checklists with a “bottom-up” system like a layout streamlined with design and access technologies.
A holistic food security system, both in terms of hygiene and physical security, as such is poised to bring all the joy and health to the communities — and keep diseases at bay, while also protecting your facility’s reputation.