Are You The Weakest Link In The Food Chain?

BY Mtho Moyo

The clever say that “A chain is as strong as its weakest link." Does it apply to the food chain we might wonder? You bet it does. Whether you are the guy with the muddy boots or the guy packing the food product in that very attractive packaging material, you all have one goal: “SAFE FOOD”.

The food chain consists of, as the cliché goes, "Farm to Fork”. Yes the food chain starts at the Farm-Hallo Milk comes from a Cow not Clover! Then distributed to Processing, Processed and then distributed to the Retailers or Restaurants or other Food preparation and of course to our Fork or into our glass in the case of milk and Wine.
Along the Food supply chain anything could happen that could seriously affect the safety of the food. Now shall we look at a few common food hazards in the food chain?


Farm Food safety Hazards include Microbes such as Salmonella, Ecoli or Listeria monocytogenes. These microbes could come anywhere from the soil, people or animals, water and the environment. Other common hazards that could be introduced at the farm are chemicals such as pesticides residues, Veterinary drugs residues, excess hormones (yes those ones that can make the chicken fully grown in less than a month). There is also a chance of allergenic hazards especially in a farm that grows a number of produce that includes allergens. One could also have the occasional physical hazards such as stones or sand. I just remembered why I did not like spinach that much when growing up.
Processing is where we could get the higher chance of Food safety hazards, so they say. These hazards can be pretty much anything depending on the type of process and might include those that might have originated from the farm. You can get hazards such as glass fragments, Metal shavings, cleaning chemical residues, Microbes from people or pests, poor hygiene and cleaning practices. If the processing plant also handles allergens there is then that possibility of allergen contamination.

Let us not forget about the Distribution process where we could also encounter other Food safety hazards due to a broken cold chain or perhaps unhygienic trucks or perhaps sheer sabotage.

On a positive note all these hazards can be controlled effectively thanks to the various Food safety management systems based on HACCP. One needs to understand the particular food chain related to the Food being handled to conduct and implement an efficient as well as an effective HACCP system because a generic HACCP study is like using an umbrella in a severe storm.

So do not be the weakest link, because we are there for you from farm to fork to ensure that all food is safe, after all we are consumers too! We shall be like your Captain Fantastic when those unhappy Auditors come disturb your peaceful existence.


You can contact mtho@entecom.co.za for more info or phone him direct on 083 441 9333.

 November 23, 2015
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Food Safety
Mtho Moyo

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