Take a look at these numbers for a second;
- 1 in 10 people get ill from contaminated food each year.
- 420,000 people die each year from foodborne diseases.
- About 40% of foodborne illnesses are shouldered by children under 5, and this burden is highest in low- and middle-income countries.
World Food Safety Day is one of the (many) days when individuals can reinforce healthy food practices across all stages of the food journey. As Yinka Olaniyan of Sweet Pod put it, food becomes unsafe when contaminated with illness-causing bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals. And this contamination can happen at any stage of production, processing, distribution, storage, or preparation.
As the saying goes, it’s not food if it’s not safe. So, we asked three food entrepreneurs how to protect food from contamination. This article is a collection of their professional advice and approach to food safety.
What does food safety mean to you?
In simple terms, food safety describes all practices that are used to keep our food safe. It relies on the joint efforts of everyone involved in our food supply, from governments to food producers to retailers and consumers. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the food which reaches the consumer’s table is safe.
Founder, SWEETPOD & MORE Ltd
Food safety to us is a way of life. It encompasses how we collect, package, store, and distribute our honey to avoid any contamination or risk to the consumer.
Founder, Anwuli Honey
Food safety is a method of handling food from production to packaging to storage, in a way that will prevent food items from food-borne diseases. It’s basically all about you being able to keep food safe, from production to consumption, in a way that it isn’t contaminated by microorganisms.
Adu Taofiq OluwaSegun
Founder and CEO of Greenfit Farms
How would you advise people to practice food safety when shopping?
Unfortunately, a lot of adulterated honey is sold in supermarkets and this also includes foreign brands. My advice to anyone buying honey is to look out for brands that sell raw honey. Most brands that sell raw honey typically state it on their bottles. This simply means that you’re getting original honey (i.e. with all its nutrients intact) that has not been tampered with.
Speaking from a farmer’s perspective, try to know the source of your food. If you are buying from a supermarket, make sure that the food is fresh and sealed. You can’t run away from food that isn’t organically grown. You’ll see a lot of food items that are inorganically grown and these too can be okay. To check food sources, trace the farmer (if possible) or ask the grocery store staff. I’ll also add that you should check the expiry dates on packaged food items, and ensure that the item has a NAFDAC number.
Green peppers from Greenfit Farms
Food safety starts as you prepare for your shopping trip. Take every little step to keep your food safe, as this is not only important for your wallet but your health as well. Here are my pro tips:
- Make plans to protect your food both before heading to the store and when transporting it home.
- Clean and organize your refrigerator and kitchen before shopping. This will help you store your food more efficiently.
- Organize items in a first-in-first-out order, to cut back on waste and overbuying.
- Clean counter-tops to make it easier to rotate food items and empty bags once you return from the store.
During and After Shopping
- Pay attention to dates. Be sure to look at the sell by and use by dates on perishable foods. Don’t buy the product if the sell by date has passed. The use by date is the capped date for when you should stop using the item. So, make sure you’ll be able to eat the food within that time frame.
- Keep coolers and ice packs in your car when shopping. Most shopping trips involve visiting two or more stores. This means your perishable foods could be in the temperature danger zone for more than two hours, resulting in your food being stored under unsafe temperatures.
- Clean your hands before sampling food. We all love to try new foods, but don’t forget to wash your hands prior to doing so. If that isn’t possible, use the store’s free hand sanitizer or bring your own sanitizer with you, especially if you touch a food item directly. Remember you have been touching shopping carts and who knows what else!
- Pick up your frozen and refrigerated foods at the end of your shopping trip. Stores aren’t always designed to follow this guideline, but try to organize your shopping list to pick up frozen food items at the end of your shopping. Doing this keeps them unrefrigerated for the least amount of time.
- Use separate plastic bags for raw meats. The juice from raw meat can spread easily, so use plastic bags to store raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods in the cart, bags, coolers, and at home.
Pancake mix. SWEETPOD & MORE Ltd
How does your business ensure food safety?
My company, SWEETPOD & MORE, is a NAFDAC approved and certified food and beverage company. We are committed to producing highly nutritious, super healthy, and absolutely delicious pancake and home baking mixes that are all-natural, non-GMO, and contain zero artificial taste, colors, or additives.
We ensure Food Safety by adhering to strict quality standards, processes, and procedures, in the production of our products. Our systems are of international standards, and all our products have batch numbers, production dates, expiry dates, and NAFDAC certification.
Yinka Olaniyan. Founder, SWEETPOD & MORE Ltd
at the International food and art festival 2022
Because we deal with a product that is eaten straight from the jar without prior heating, it is very important to us that our honey collection and packaging are done in the most hygienic condition to avoid contaminating the honey. Our goal is to bring joy to customers through our honey and not the opposite.
Honey from Anwuli Honey
One of the ways I ensure food safety as a farmer is by growing my food items more organically than inorganically. I put more compost farmyard manure than inorganic fertilizer so that the phytochemical composition of the food will still be very great and intact. We ensure that the cartons are clean and well perforated while packaging the food item(s) for customers. We package only good food items and remove all pests that can trigger spoilage in other food items. We also ensure that these items get to the customers in a good state, so that we can have good food in our circulation.
Adu Taofiq OluwaSegun
Founder and CEO, Greenfit Farms
Want to find reliable food businesses? Visit our database!