Preventing contamination of any kind is an essential part of quality assurance in food processing. So today, we’re going to investigate some different examples of chemical food hazards and how to prevent them in your processing line.
- What is a chemical hazard in food safety?
- What are the other types of food contamination?
- 4 examples of chemical food hazards
- When can food contamination occur?
- How to prevent chemical hazards in food
What is a chemical hazard in food safety?
A chemical food hazard is a contaminant of a chemical nature that enters food during the food production process.
What are the other types of food contamination?
Biological, allergenic and physical contamination of food are also hazards that food processors must be aware of in addition to chemical ones.
4 examples of chemical food hazards
For food processors, it’s particularly important to prevent the following chemical food hazards. We have grouped them into an easy acronym for you to remember: CAPT.
- Cleaning chemicals and pest Control substances
- Antibiotics and Additives
- Pesticides and Preservatives
- MycoToxins and other natural Toxins
1. Cleaning chemicals and pest control substances
This covers what we might consider the most obvious examples of chemical food hazards. Cleaning chemicals will always be present in a food processing plant, so there’s always a chance that contamination will occur. The same goes for poisons, baits and other substances used in pest control activities.
2. Antibiotics and food additives
Meat and poultry processors will be familiar with the use of antibiotics, hormones and vitamins during the rearing of livestock. However, these can be hazardous to human health in large quantities and are therefore considered chemical hazards.
3. Pesticides and preservatives
Pesticides include insecticides and herbicides that could be present on fruit and vegetables. Food processors must also be aware of other agricultural products, such as fertilisers, which can be hazardous when ingested at high levels.
Preservatives are considered chemical food hazards when they’re not used properly – as too much can be harmful to human health. Examples of preservatives include sulphites in wine and nitrates used in meat.
4. Mycotoxins, marine toxins and other natural toxins
Toxicity can be caused in a variety of ways; one of which is storing acidic food in galvanised metal containers, as the acid interacts and causes a chemical reaction to occur with the metal. Mycotoxins are those produced by fungus and are therefore an indication of food spoilage. Most marine toxins are produced by microalgae and have the potential to cause food poisoning.
When can food contamination occur?
Chemicals are used and created at various points during food production, including:
This means chemical contamination can occur during any of these stages. This makes eliminating them challenging. However, it is an essential component of food safety, so now let’s look at the best ways to prevent chemical contamination of food.
How can chemical hazards cause foodborne illness?
Chemical hazards pose a significant risk in food safety, potentially leading to foodborne illnesses. These hazards encompass non-biological substances with chemical properties that can infiltrate the food supply chain. When consumed, they can trigger severe reactions, including food poisoning and other adverse health effects. Understanding and mitigating chemical hazards is crucial in ensuring the safety and integrity of our food.
How to prevent chemical hazards in food: 5 tips
1. Safe chemical storage and usage
Reduce the risk of chemical contamination by securely storing chemicals away from food and ensure they’re always labelled. Check for damage and leaks once a day. Stack containers appropriately and be sure to clean up spills immediately.
Ensure all staff use the right chemical for the job, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use appropriate PPE. HACCP principles require your business to identify chemical hazards during risk assessment.
3. Consider outsourcing pest control
One way to reduce the risk of contamination relating to pest control products is to outsource to a pest control company. Food businesses are legally required to do everything they reasonably can to prevent pest problems; but if the risk of chemical contamination via pest control substances is high, outsourcing is a wise move. Food Standards Austalia & New Zealand states that, “if your business can’t manage pests properly you should call in professional help.”
4. Staff training
All staff must receive appropriate food safety and chemical hazards training. This should include how to safely handle and wash food and chemicals to avoid contamination, good record keeping, how to clean up spills correctly and what to do if something goes wrong.
5. Invest in appropriate machinery
Eagle product inspection machines do more than simply detect foreign bodies in food. These sophisticated all-in-one machines take care of quality assurance, performing various in-line checks of food products at once. They can also integrate with HACCP compliance software, which makes adhering to HACCP guidelines as easy as possible.
In addition, FPE supplies Elpress’ hygienic entrances and other industrial cleaning equipment that safely separates staff hygiene processes from active food processing. This helps to reduce the risk of accidental contamination.
Now you know some examples of chemical food hazards and how to prevent them. If you’d like further details about the Eagle machines or Elpress equipment we supply, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team on AUS 1800 882 549 or NZ 0800 100 003.