'Absolute food safety' is the assurance that damage or injury from use of a substance is impossible.
'Relative food safety' is the assurance that damage or injury will not result from a food or ingredients used in a reasonable and customary manner and Quantity
An understanding of food safety is improved by defining two other basic concepts - hazard and toxicity.'Hazard' is the relative probability that harm or injury will result when the substance is used in a proposed manner and quantity while 'toxicity' is the capacity of a substance to produce harm or injury of any kind under any conditions. Remember, assessment of whether a food or ingredient is safe should not be based on its inherent toxicity but on whether or not a hazard is created.
Next, let us understand what is meant by the term 'food quality'. Food quality refers to the attributes that influence a products value to a consumer. This includes both negative attributes such as spoilage, contamination, adulteration, food safety hazards and positive attributes such as the origin, color, flavor, texture etc. Another term which is often used while talking about food safety is 'food hygiene'. Food hygiene refers to all conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain.
After a comprehensive review of the different terms used in the context of food and its safety concerns, we will now focus on the importance of safe food and hazards which are a concern to food safety. ,411 of you are aware of the constituents of food and the fact that we need food for our survival. You may have also noticed that some of the foods are consumed as such while others require certain processing, before they are ready for consumption. Safety Processing of certain foods develop constituents that might be toxic for human consumption. You might be wondering what these constituents are. The food processes that might lead to the development of potentially hazardous compounds in foods, or those that affect its nutritive value include use of agricultural and environmental . chemicals, drugs, synthetic ingredients and fertilizers. The safety of foods, therefore, is of utmost significance and has gained a worldwide attention.
There are certain specific food safety concerns that differ markedly and include issues such as additives, drug residues, pesticides, irradiation, fertilizers and other growing aids, microbiological contamination, food toxicants, adulteration, misbranding etc. During recent years, newer challenges such as globalization of trade in food, urbanization, changes in life style, international travel and environmental pollution, all have further contributed to the concern for food safety. The new World Order and global environment for food trade places a considerable obligation on the part of both importing and exporting countries to ensure safety and quality of food.
Apart from all these, one of the major issues that require special focus is the consumer's attitude and knowledge about food safety. It is essential to acquire the know-how and skills necessary to understand and manage food safety hazards.
Consumer confidence in the safety and quality of food supply is an important requirement and consumers are demand protection for the whole food supply chain from the primary producer to the e d consumer, often described as from farm or pond to the plate approach '. However, it is interesting to note that most of the consumers are not concerned about microbiological contamination and food safety issues. Many households have unsafe food storage and preparation practices. Consumers rarely consider their own food practices a hazard. However, food industry is most concerned about the microbiological safety of its products and many quality control checks are made to ensure that foods are safe. An elaborate system known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is being employed in recent years by many food industries to minimize the chances of contamination during processing.