7. Introduction to the Principles of Food Hygiene and Safety

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7. Introduction to the Principles of Food Hygiene and Safety

Study Session 7  Introduction to the Principles of Food Hygiene and Safety 3

Introduction 3

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 7 3

7.1  Important principles in food hygiene and safety 3

7.2  The use and function of food 5

7.2.1  What is food? 5

Food for energy, growth and development 7

Social function of food 7

Psychological function of food 7

7.2.2  Food that is not safe to eat 7

7.3  Principles of safe food preparation 8

Question 8

Answer 8

7.4  Food control 10

7.4.1  Important principles in food control 11

Integrated farm-to-table concept 11

Preventive measures 11

Risk analysis 11

Transparency 12

7.4.2  Components of a food control system 12

7.4.3  Responsibility for food control 13

7.5  Communication and education 13

Question 13

Answer 13

Summary of Study Session 7 13

Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 7 14

SAQ 7.1 (tests Learning Outcome 7.1) 14

Answer 14

SAQ 7.2 (tests Learning Outcome 7.2) 15

Answer 15

SAQ 7.3 (tests Learning Outcome 7.3) 15

Answer 15

SAQ 7.4 (tests Learning Outcomes 7.1 and 7.4) 15

Answer 15

Study Session 7  Introduction to the Principles of Food Hygiene and Safety


Food hygiene and safety usually refer to contamination with ‘microorganisms’ or ‘microbes’; whereas in communicable diseases, the term ‘infectious agents’ is preferred.

All over the world people are seriously affected every day by diseases that are caused by consuming unhygienic and unsafe food. We have to give due emphasis to good hygienic practices to prevent and control foodborne diseases. Foodborne diseases result from eating foods that contain infectious or toxic substances. The food we eat should be free from contaminants such as microorganisms and chemicals. This session will introduce the principles of food hygiene and safety. You will also learn about food control, food inspection and supportive enforcement measures that can contribute to food hygiene and safety.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 7

When you have studied this session, you should be able to:

7.1  Define and use correctly all of the key words printed in bold. (SAQs 7.1 and 7.4)

7.2  Describe the public health importance and objectives of food hygiene. (SAQ 7.2)

7.3  Describe the essential functions of food. (SAQ 7.3)

7.4  Outline the principle aspects of a food control system and explain why food control is important. (SAQ 7.4)

7.1  Important principles in food hygiene and safety

In previous sessions of this Module, you have been introduced to the concept of hygiene, which was defined as the set of practices associated with the preservation of health. One important aspect of this is food hygiene, which refers to the many practices needed to safeguard the quality of food from production to consumption. This is sometimes referred to as ‘from farm to fork’ or ‘from farm to table’, because it includes every stage in the process from growing on the farm, through storage and distribution, to finally eating the food. It also includes the collection and disposal of food wastes. Throughout this chain of events there are many points where, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, unwanted chemicals and microorganisms may contaminate the food.

The term ‘food hygiene’ refers particularly to the practices that prevent microbial contamination of food at all points along the chain from farm to table. Food safety is a closely related but broader concept that means food is free from all possible contaminants and hazards. In practice both terms may be used interchangeably.

Food hygiene is vital for creating and maintaining hygienic and healthy conditions for the production and consumption of the food that we eat.

A traditional way of eating food at the household level in Ethiopia, injera with wot (sauce), is shown in Figure 7.1. Usually this type of meal is safe because it is food that is prepared to eat immediately.

Figure 7.1  Traditional way of eating at home.

The overall purpose of food hygiene is to prepare and provide safe food and consequently contribute to a healthy and productive society.

Within this overall aim, the specific objectives for food hygiene are to:

  • Prevent food spoilage, i.e. changes that make food unfit for consumption due to microbial or chemical contamination.

  • Inform and educate people about simple and practical methods of keeping food safe to protect themselves against foodborne diseases.

  • Protect food from adulteration (intentional contamination).

  • Ensure proper practice in the food trade to prevent the sale of food that is offensive or defective in value and quality.

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