What Students in Food Safety Programs Can Learn From the 3 Biggest Food Safety Incidents

Students in a food safety program learn the fundamentals of keeping our foods safe

As an aspiring food safety professional you will play an important role in ensuring that the food in fridges and pantries across the country—and even around the world—is safe to eat. Your comprehensive education will train you to foresee potential safety mishaps and prevent them from happening. With your knowledge and training, you might even save lives as you help ensure the safety of anyone who consumes the food you handle.

For students interested in food safety and quality assurance, a lot can be learned from these food safety incidents. Read on to discover how these catastrophes hold valuable lessons.

The Sudan I Incident Shows Students in Food Safety Programs the Importance of Supplier Quality

The largest food recall event in the United Kingdom took place in 2005. An industrial dye, Sudan I, was found in a shipment of Crosse & Blackwell Worcester Sauce. The dye was previously a popular food colouring ingredient. Unfortunately, in 2003 it was found to have carcinogenic properties, which lead to its ban in most of the European Union’s countries.

After the ingredient was discovered, the company that owned the sauce, Premier Foods, faced massive public scrutiny. The original contamination was traced back to a tampered batch of chili powder made in India. As a student in a food safety program, this mishap can teach you a valuable lesson. It demonstrates the importance of monitoring a supplier’s ingredient quality to ensure no unauthorized or illegal ingredients are being used. By using your training to ensure suppliers use safe ingredients, you can help make sure that no harmful products find their way into the food supply.

Grads with a Food Safety Diploma Can Learn From the Deadly Wheat Gluten Incident

Food industry professionals don’t just worry about harmful contaminants entering the food supply. Sometimes, even a combination of two harmless ingredients can create a potential health hazard. It’s one of the reasons why students pursuing a food safety diploma take a food chemistry course during their studies and learn about the behaviour of food and proteins.

One of the most significant food safety events occurred when several Chinese suppliers started adding a nitrogen-boosting chemical, melamine, to foods in order to make them appear to have a higher protein content. While melamine is not harmful in small doses, when combined with cyanuric acid it may cause renal failure. The two ingredients form the basis of Chinese “wheat gluten” which was manufactured by over 12 companies for products such as dog food, resulting in the deaths of as many as 8,000 pets. By understanding the chemistry behind food processing, graduates of food safety courses can help prevent a repeat of this incident in the future.

The Peanut Corporation of America Demonstrates the Importance of Plant Sanitation

As students enrolled in food safety classes know, plant sanitation is crucial to manufacturing healthy and safe food. Unsanitary conditions can have a big impact on the food being processed, which is why the conditions of the Peanut Corporation of America’s peanut butter plant were so concerning. In 2009, the FDA shut down the plant because it was made aware that company leadership knew their products contained salmonella, but ordered production to remain ongoing anyways.

The Peanut Corporation continued production knowing their products contained salmonella

The Peanut Corporation continued production knowing their products contained salmonella

Upon inspection, it was also discovered the plant had a laundry list of other sanitary violations including mold, holes in the roof, dead insects, and droppings from rodents. The owner, Stewart Parnell, was convicted of 72 counts of fraud. This serious disregard for food safety demonstrates just how important safety inspections—as well as the trained professionals who oversee them—can be.

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