This Article is written by a Food Quality Controller at VManifest
Here is a memorable incident that occurred in my career at a food testing laboratory.
I was working as the In-charge of a microbiology lab, when a sample of baby food arrived for quality analysis from the manufacturers. The parameters were for both chemical and microbiology tests. Sample was registered, an internal number registered for anonymity, and sample submitted for analysis.
The senior microbiologist analysed the sample and found that it contained Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria causes typhoid fever. Sometimes a false positive test results during analysis. So two other analysts repeated the same analysis and the result remained positive for salmonella. After confirmation, we immediately informed the baby food manufacturing company. They were alarmed and did not understand how this could happen.
They immediately recalled all batches that went to the market. As a result of their investigations they discovered the root cause. One of the employees working in their production factory had typhoid fever and through them, it spread to the final product.
From this one can deduce the importance of food safety management systems (FSMS).
A FSMS is a process for managing food safety to ensure that the food produced is in line with recognised quality standards and safe to consume. FSMS follows principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). HACCP works to mitigate the possible threats in various steps of food processing, ensuring that consumers remain safe from potentially fatal risks. Every food producer is required by law to have its own FSMS, which is certified by a recognised body.
In this case, the baby food manufacturer’s periodic testing schedule and the lab’s accurate testing, saved the lives of countless babies. But we must ask, what about the products already sold and consumed? How do we prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place? Are the procedures in place enough ? Is the current FSMS good enough?