- Quality of food is safe and suitable for human consumption.
- Ensures fair trade practices in the food trade.
- Follows the food chain – farm to fork.
- Takes into account the wide diversity of food safety standards: CODEX activities and varying degrees of risk involved in food production.
- Lays a firm foundation for ensuring food hygiene with each specific code of hygiene practice applicable to each sector.
The minimum requirement is for food processors to apply good sanitation practices, which include the design and layout of the premises, provision of adequate facilities, and programmes for cleaning and sanitation (pest control), as set out in the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR Part 110 of the United States and in Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene of the United Nations. Additional QA programmes, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), audits of several areas of manufacturing, sanitation, and the product in the market are also the responsibilities of QA department. QA programmes enable the application and verification of control measures intended to assure the quality and safety of food. They are required at each step in the food production chain to ensure safe food and to show compliance with regulatory and customer requirements.
To reach and maintain these goals, a QA programme is built around three fundamental functions: Quality Control; Quality Evaluation; Quality Audit.
Good practice for QA procedures requires an objective review to assess the quality of the inventory, and also to identify areas where improvements could be made. The inventory may be reviewed as a whole or in parts. The objective in QA implementation is to involve reviewers that can conduct an unbiased review of the inventory. It is good practice to use QA reviewers that have not been involved in preparing the inventory. Preferably these reviewers would be independent experts from other agencies or a national or international expert or group not closely connected with national inventory compilation. Where third-party reviewers outside the inventory agency are not available, staff from another part of the inventory agency not involved in the portion of the inventory being reviewed can also fulfil QA roles.
It is good practice for inventory agencies to conduct a basic expert peer review prior to inventory submission in order to identify potential problems and make corrections where possible. It is also good practice to apply this review to all source categories in the inventory. However, this will not always be practical due to timing and resource constraints. Key source categories should be given priority as well as source categories where significant changes in methods or data have been made. Inventory agencies may also choose to perform more extensive peer reviews or audits or both as additional QA procedures within the available resources.
2.1 Specific major functions for maintain the quality assurance of the foods
- Compliance with specifications – Legal requirements, industry standards, internal company standards, shelf-life tests, customers’ specifications.
- Test procedures – Testing of raw materials, finished products, in process tests.
- Sampling procedures and schedules – Suitable sampling schedules should be used to maximise the probability of detection while minimising workload.
- Record-keeping and reporting procedures – Maintenance of all QA records so that customer complaints and legal problems can be dealt with.
- Troubleshooting – Solution of problems caused by poor quality raw materials, erratic supplies, malfunctioning process equipment; investigation of reasons for poor quality product to avoid repetition.
- Special problems – Customer complaints, production problems, personnel training, short courses, etc.
a) To observe mandatory requirements (laws and regulations)
b) To control processes with regard to obligations arising from product liability
c) To improve competitiveness through application of standards
d) To guarantee greater assurance of food quality than through end-product testing only
e) To avoid losses due to faulty production
QA Systems are generally not mandatory but increasingly adopted in the production and processing of food products. Government supports the adoption of QA Systems –
- To ensure self-regulatory mechanisms of industry and trade
- To ensure the needs for inspection by government authorities
2.3 Components of Quality Assurance
The components of a QA programme are often grouped into three levels, variously labelled:
- The strategic or organisational level (dealing with the quality policy, objectives and management and usually produced as the quality manual)
- The tactical or functional level (dealing with general practices such as training, facilities, operation of QA) and
- The operational level (dealing with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) worksheets and other aspects of day to day operations).
2.4.1 Good Agricultural Practices
GAP focus on the best practices, applicable for agricultural products to ensure the quality and safety of the final product. GAP are guidelines, which ensure that all agricultural practices, in particular pest and disease control, are in accordance with Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. GAP aims at ensuring sustainable agriculture by minimising hazards for the workforce, other actors along the food chain, consumers and the environment while ensuring economically viable production.
2.4.2 Good Laboratory Practices
GLP in themselves are voluntary, but have in some cases been adopted into national law and thus become mandatory in the respective countries. Otherwise, laboratories apply quality management systems according to ISO 17025.
2.4.3 Good Manufacturing Practices
There are many reactions occurring during processing and manufacturing of raw materials that cause changes in composition, nutritional value, physical structure and sensory properties. The objectives of GMP are to control these changes so as to develop the desired qualities in the product, to ensure food safety and to stop or slow down any deterioration in the food. Good manufacturing practice means understanding, analysing and controlling the manufacturing process.
2.4.4 Good Hygiene Practices
Guidelines for GHP aim at establishing processing, handling, transport and distribution procedures that are apt to prevent perishing due to micro-organisms, growth of pathogens on foodstuff, contamination with chemical residues or contaminants (e. g. mycotoxins).
2.4.5 Good Distribution Practices
GDP guidelines aim at adjusting handling, transport and distribution procedures to the requirements of food safety.
2.4.6 Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point System
HACCP is a systematic approach to establishing, implementing and improving quality assurance of food products through a system of identification, evaluation, and control of hazards, which is significant for food safety. HACCP is a widely accepted food safety QA system.
2.5 An ideal food safety management system for quality assurance of the foods
Meets the food safety policy and achieve the measurable objectives related to the policy
- Meets performance of “effectiveness” (extent to which planned activities are realised and planned results achieved) and “efficiency” (relationship between the results achieved and the resources needed).
- Applies proven management principles aimed at continually improving performance over the long term by focussing on customers while addressing the needs of all other stakeholders.
- Is well-established, documented, implemented, maintained and continually improved / updated.
- Has its products / services that actually meet its intended usage and are safe.
- Is proactive and innovative, scientific, risk-avoiding and prevention oriented.
- To evaluate and assess customer requirements and demonstrate conformity with those mutually agreed customer requirements that relate to food safety, in order to enhance customer satisfaction.
- To effectively communicate food safety issues to their suppliers, customers and relevant interested parties in the food chain.
- To ensure that the organisation conforms to its stated food safety policy.
- To demonstrate such conformity to relevant interested parties.
- To seek certification or registration of its food safety management system by an external organisation, or make a self-assessment or self-declaration of conformity to ISO 22000:2005.