Many people get sick and die each year due to food borne illnesses. This is because apart from the lack of food hygiene in the home, food sources such as restaurants, food chains, grocery stores, butcher shops, farms, manufacturing establishments, etc., do not practice proper food sanitation and do not precisely abide by the food safety standards imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA is an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for protecting and promoting the nation's public health. It ensures that food is safe, clean, and wholesome for consumption.
The FDA has different branches that create safety regulations to the different types of food products. For instance, the Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition oversees safety and accurate labeling of almost all food products, dietary supplement, and cosmetics; whereas meat products derived from cattle, chickens, etc., are under the supervision of the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.
If for instance you are planning to venture into a food business, apart from having your business and premises registered or licensed, you must ensure that you strictly adhere to food safety standards not just for the mere reason of complying with the federal and local regulations but to prevent or lessen food contamination as well. The FDA implemented a Food Code, a model for delivering the agency's purpose of protecting the public health and ensuring food is safe and clean when it is offered or presented to the consumer. Every state may have varying ordinances, but each follows the Food Code, which is the FDA's recommendation for uniform system that caters to protection and safety of food provided at retail and in food service.
- Food must be safe, unadulterated, and honestly presented. Unadulterated means it does not contain any harmful or poisonous substance that may injure health.
- Equipment and utensils should not allow migration of harmful substances, odor, color and taste to the food and must be made of materials that are safe, durable, corrosion-resistant, non-absorbent, can withstand repeated washing, finished with an easily cleanable surface, and resistant to chipping, crazing, scratching, scoring, distortion and decomposition.
- The food establishment requires a food manager to be responsible for supervision of employees who are in charge of food storage, food preparation and display, and service of food. All throughout operating hours, the food manager has to be present at the establishment. The food manager must be someone who underwent food training and obtained a food manager certification.
- Physical facilities of the food establishment must comply with the FDA's requirements addressing the cleanability and functionality of indoor and outdoor areas including but not limited to floors, walls, ceilings, utility lines; heating, ventilating, air conditioning systems, lighting, toilet rooms, exterior doors, exterior walls, walking and driving surfaces, etc.
- Poisonous or toxic materials used for sanitizing or cleaning must be labeled clearly, stored, and separated in an area that is not above or near food, equipment, utensils, linens used in food preparation and presentation.
Water, plumbing, waste management, compliance and enforcement, administrative guidelines, management of food safety practices, managerial control of food borne illness risk, food processing, etc. are all covered by the imposed Food Code to ensure that food safety is prioritized and therefore prevent frequency of food contamination and food borne illnesses.