Different food items go through different packaging processes, shipping methods, and handling practices. The one thing that all have in common though, is they have to go through an inspection.
Many illnesses are spread through food products and their preparation, so inspections and safe practices have been implemented, but the growing need for Certified Food Safety Professionals puts the availability of safe food at risk.
Importance of Work
Foodborne illnesses are very common, with one in six Americans getting sick every year from contaminated food and beverages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most unfortunate part is that they are preventable. Teaching people to wash food properly, clean their hands thoroughly when handling food, and appropriate storage methods is very important. Inspectors play their part when they test imported foods, or keep tabs on the supply chain.
In the US, food safety falls under the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They have a management system for raw products, referred to as the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), which conducts inspections, monitors handling and procurement of products, and even oversees manufacturing and distribution.
The HACCP has stepped up involvement with new regulations in the last few years, requiring more inspectors, but there just aren’t enough inspectors to go around.
As different food chains have learned in the past couple of years, food-related illnesses are not just bad for business, but also bad for customers. The government has food safety professionals to help inspect everything to prevent these outbreaks.
Responsibilities of a Certified Food Safety Professional
Inspectors who hold the mandatory food safety management certification are experts at helping to keep consumers safe. Food products, throughout the growing, shipping, and packaging process, need to be tested for different types of germs.
If a certified food safety professional runs a test that yields unfavorable results, it is their job to help stop the transportation of the entire batch of food. Depending on the product and the test used, all foods linked to the same fields, packaging facilities, and shipping vessels are tested to see if they are also at risk.
Most people start on the path to food safety management with a simple food handler’s permit. This is a fundamental step to understanding basic hygiene skills with food. A food handler’s permit is required in every position that requires handling food.
Some of these safety practices include not mixing raw meat with cooked meat, proper hand washing procedure, and how to safely store food. However, going into a commercial or management position for inspecting food requires a certification.
To earn a food safety management certification, a course and test are required. There are many different areas of food safety covered in the classes, including the ISO 22000 auditor/lead auditor course. This two-day class helps teach skills and key steps to understanding the standards for food safety.
Potential inspectors are required to have a deep understanding of safe food handling practices. Once in the field, the best approach is often figuring out what can go wrong and then trying to control and prevent the process from these hazards.
There are different series of courses and tests available for those looking to forward their careers. Doors are starting to open to help people find their way onto this path. In order to help keep the food supply safe, it is important that there are enough food safety professionals to get the inspections done.
- Susan Beech is the online environmental awareness coordinator at Bureau Veritas. Her passion for environmental awareness is matched only by her love of coffee, chocolate, and her dog, Lucky.