“What is in your meal? Where did the ingredients come from? Were they properly – and safely – handled from every stage, from farm to plate? WHO is advocating for action in these areas on this World Health Day, 7 April 2015, as it calls on producers, policy-makers and the public to promote food safety.” – World Health Organisation
In a globalised food economy, the dangers of unsafe food have become a matter of pressing concern among nations. The latest frozen berry fiasco, causing more than a dozen cases of Hepatitis A in Australia, is but one incident in a steady stream of food scandals that have been brought to light over the past decade. We aren’t the only ones at risk either. In 2007, pet food imported from China spiked with melamine, a toxic industrial chemical, killed a number of cats and dogs in the US. A year later, the same deadly ingredient somehow found its way into infant formula, resulting in the tragic deaths and sickness of young children.
Even medical facilities aren’t safe from the threat of contaminated food. A recent recall of a chocolate mousse product supplied to Australian hospitals is purported to be underway, when it was found to contain the infectious bacteria listeria, which is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone with a weak immune system.
But that’s not all. It seems like almost every product on sale carries with it the potential risk of infection, disease and even death. The best case scenario is that you’re buying a watered down or fraudulent version of the original, such as the undisclosed use of horsemeat in beef burgers sold in British and Irish supermarkets a couple of years ago. At worst, you’re literally playing Russian roulette with your life.
“Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill an estimated 2 million people annually, including many children.” – WHO
The WHO has identified over 200 diseases that can be contracted from consuming unsafe food contaminated with harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and chemicals.
Is food safety at the top of the list?
Promoting and implementing safe food production standards, from farm to fork, is of prime importance as the world population continues to grow and there are more mouths to feed. With each new food-related fatality, our consumer trust is being eroded. Our faith in the global food supply has been shaken and it’s gradually falling out of favour, at least for those who can afford to buy food that’s locally grown, and produced by independent, small-scale, organic farmers.
The increasing number of incidents originating out of Chinese goods also begs the question of why we continue to import from this country and others like it that consistently fail to live up to basic food safety and hygiene expectations. China already suffers from high levels of air, water and soil pollution. Add ‘honey-laundering’, the use of banned pesticides, selling rancid meat and exporting contaminated frozen berries, and it’s easy to feel suspicious and mistrustful. After all, it’s your health you’re bargaining with, which isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially when there are kids involved. At the end of the day, the processes involved in food production shouldn’t put profit first and safety second.
However, despite several food scares at home, Australia thankfully ranks very highly when it comes to food safety standards. The domestic food and beverage industry forms a vital part of the economy and maintains an international reputation for supplying clean, healthy produce with a low chemical count, including meat, dairy, grains, fruit and vegetables, seafood, confectionary, wine, organic food stuffs and other specialty products.
We have state of the art education and training facilities in this industry sector and this has succeeded in developing an incredibly skilled workforce, says the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade):
“Right across the supply chain, the Australian food and beverage industry has adopted innovative manufacturing, packaging, product development and marketing efforts. From paddock to port, the industry is supported by reliable and world-class transport and distribution infrastructure.”
Food processing accounts for about 20 per cent of all manufacturing operations within Australia and 18 per cent of employment in manufacturing is associated with the food processing industry, making it a desirable avenue for job seekers as opportunities for future growth persist in an already lucrative export market.
“Opportunities for Australian processed foods exist in every market – with Japan the number one market, followed by the USA, Korea, Indonesia and New Zealand. Australia’s excellent environmentally sustainable safety credentials, as well as its disease-free status, are also backed by a strong regulatory framework, and innovations in traceability, quality assurance and supply chains.” – Austrade
General qualifications in the trade include the Certificate III in Food Processing, which covers a broad range of industries, such as grain processing, dairy processing, grocery staples, poultry, beverages, confectionary and fruit and veg. A Certificate III in Retail Baking also offers another point of entry, providing an opportunity to develop specialised skills baking cakes, pastries or bread for those who prefer to work in a retail environment.
Are you employed in the food processing industry? Get qualified with RPL
Many people are unaware that Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), an Australian government endorsed assessment, enables existing workers, or those with industry specific skills, knowledge and experience to obtain a nationally recognised qualification without ever setting foot in a classroom. Have you been employed in the food processing industry? If so, why not take a free skills review online and let a qualified RPL specialist advise you of any qualifications that you could be entitled to at a fraction of the original course cost. A qualification in your field could radically improve your career prospects in 2015 and beyond.
Get Qualified Australia, the nation’s leading experts in RPL, offer a number of relevant qualifications, such as the:
Certificate III in Food Processing
Certificate III in Retail Baking (Cake and Pastry)
Certificate III in Retail Baking (Bread)
Certificate III in Retail Baking (Combined)
Certificate III in Commercial Cookery
Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery
Certificate IV in Patisserie
Grow your career and help contribute towards the security, safety and improvement of our food supply so that we can continue to adopt the best hygienic practices in food production and provide healthy nourishment for families, children and pets at home and abroad.