Food Safety Guidance for Local Producers
Russell Ramage, CAFRE Food Technologist
Local food producers have been at the forefront in the supply of high quality food products during the unprecedented times that have been experienced during the Coronavirus pandemic. Ensuring a steady supply of high quality foods that meet stringent food safety criteria has seen our producers working hard to meet demand.
Despite the large scale of the pandemic, the latest scientific literature including that from the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety note that, to date, there have been no reports of the transmission of Covid-19 via the consumption of food. There is no evidence that food poses a risk to public health in relation to Covid-19 and the main mode of transmission is considered to be from person to person via respiratory droplets from infected people via sneezes, coughs or generated through exhaling.
The agri-food industry in Northern Ireland continues to take measures to avoid contamination of the food they produce and distribute. The strict hygiene and food safety rules that already govern the production of food by our local producers are designed to avoid contamination of the food by harmful pathogenic bacteria. Food Safety Management systems based on the principles of HACCP or those set by recognised global accreditation bodies, ensure that the production of food is to the strictest and highest standards of food safety. These existing measures can help prevent contamination by the virus responsible for Covid-19.
Extra training for staff has focused on the increased importance of food safety. Particularly relevant are the already existing thorough procedures for cleaning and disinfection of food production facilities along with stringent personal hygiene procedures that cover hand washing, the use of gloves and masks, dedicated hygienic clothes and where possible working from home. There is every reason to believe they are as effective on Covid-19 as on the other microbiological risks in the food production chain.
A carefully established and robust shelf-life has been established for their products by our manufacturers and the Use By dates established for high-risk or perishable foods ensures food safety is not compromised by the growth of potentially harmful pathogens at any stage in the shelf-life. CAFRE Food Technologists can provide technical assistance or guidance around queries that may relate to food safety, HACCP or shelf life. A short online presentation on the procedures for establishment of shelf-life is available on the video below.
In our industry support role, Food Technologists at CAFRE are available to offer guidance and support to food and drink manufacturers from across all sectors. If you have any questions or queries in relation to industry help and support please don’t hesitate to contact the CAFRE Food Processing Helpline on 0300 200 7846 or via the website at www.cafre.ac.uk or you can contact Russell Ramage on Russell.Ramage@daera-ni.gov.uk or Tel 028 86768255.