The first time I came across the concept of food safety was in 2015 when I worked at a Nairobi Hotel that boasts the only Food Safety Management System, to date. They were serious about it, too! I mean, these guys had molded their whole hotel processes to suit their ISO FSMS certification; their physical structures (architecture, interior design, down to which direction the doors swung open!), their human resource structures, their processes, procedures and mitigating measures…everything! Most importantly, and why they succeeded at maintaining their certification year after year, they had engrained food safety management into their culture.
Prior to COVID – 19, while working there, we knew to wash our hands at every turn. Hand wash stations were either foot operated or automatic. There were hand sanitizers along paths leading up to or near food preparation and storage areas. Safety equipment was available and considered part of the uniform.
These guys were serious!
Now, as I run my own food processing business, I think about food safety a lot. It is my responsibility to ensure that the products I give my customers is “fit for food”. This year’s theme for the Food Safety day is “Food Safety is Everyone’s Business” and I agree completely. The major players are, of course, the producers and processors of food and the regulators, be they in government or the private sector. The consumers depend on these major players to bare their responsibility with integrity so that they can be sure the food that hits their tables is safe for consumption. The consumer then bares the responsibility of handling the food appropriately (clean hands or crockery, preparing the foods using the required temperatures or methods etc.) so that the food is fit for consumption.
In an ideal situation, all these three players work together to ensure that food is safe for consumption. Food safety IS everyone’s business. As a producer or processor of foods, tighten the measures that enhance food safety in your operations; not only because it draws customers your way, but because it is the ethical – the right thing to do. As a regulator, do your inspection without bias and thoroughly. Your recommendations are taken seriously, make them count for good. As a consumer, care about yourself enough to insist that the food you are given to consume is of the highest quality in terms of safety, not just cheap. Cheap and unsafe leads to avoidable health care expenses which could have been avoided in the first place.
Take up the challenge and make food safety your business, too.
Author: Selinah O’wakwabi – Head of Food, Fursa Africa
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