Handling of raw materials is important as it prevents cross contamination from the raw material to ready-to-eat food. Contaminants can be biological, chemical or physical hazards and once introduced into the raw material they can remain in the food throughout the preparation and processing procedure. Contamination can also be introduced into the food by raw material handlers. This is the reason why FSSAI has laid down certain guidelines for handling raw material so that ready-to-eat food can be free from bacteria and viruses that result in food borne diseases.
Important precautions to follow for procuring raw material
As a food business operator the most important precaution you must always follow is to use only good quality raw materials and never use low grade raw material. Make sure that you:
- Procure your raw material only from licensed dealers and never from unauthorized dealers or illegal slaughter houses.
- Check the raw materials for any signs of deterioration or unpleasant odour.
- Segregate those materials that show signs of being unfit for human consumption.
- Check for signs of thawing and deterioration in frozen food like water droplets on the product or any change in texture.
- Thoroughly examine the product to ensure no physical hazard or contamination has taken place.
- Look out for signs like change in texture, colour or smell which makes the raw material unfit for human consumption and which indicates presence of chemical hazards that can be confirmed with laboratory testing.
- Purchase only that amount of raw material for which you have adequate capacity to store and keep preserved.
- Check all packaged food for ‘expiry date’/ ‘best before’ /’Use by’ date and ensure correct packaging and storage conditions have been maintained by the supplier.
Important procedure to follow after raw material has been procured
Even after raw material has been procured unwanted contaminants can enter accidently or if precautions have not been taken during storage or transportation.
- Transport and store consumable materials with covers. Separate and store consumable foods, raw materials and non food items.
- Ensure that during transportation pathogen growth and toxin formation is negligible. Control time, temperature and minimize exposure and use safe water for cleaning so contamination is prevented.
- Receive and store chilled & high risk foods at below 5°C temperature and frozen food at ˗18°C or below.
- Use containers made of food grade material to store raw paste and sauces. Keep these properly covered and check them regularly for fungal growth, deterioration etc.
- Use racks/pallets which are made of non-absorbent material, provided on the floor for keeping raw material.
- Rotate raw materials as well as finished food material systematically either on a FIFO (First In First Out), FEFO (First Expired First Out) and FMFO (First Manufactured First Out) basis.
If you follow these precautions you will be able to serve healthy and safe food to consumers and you will feel proud of your good reputation for being a reliable and responsible food business operator.