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Food manufacturers should carefully consider their selection and use of raw materials, ingredients, food additives and any chemicals used for processing food products. Chemical residues found in food products are mostly caused by contaminated raw material, food additives and chemicals.

Among different types of food products, fisheries products are considered having the greatest risk of chemical residue. Nowadays, the production of fisheries products uses many types of raw materials, food additives and chemicals, especially for value added products. Chemical residues can come from raw materials, for example:

  • Marine fish: contaminated by heavy metal, radioactive material from the sea water
  • Aquaculture fish: antibiotics, etc.
  • Fresh water fish: pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, etc.

Beside chemical contamination of raw materials, fisheries products may be contaminated by ingredients, food additives (overdose and/or banned additives), and chemicals used for processing.

Most fisheries products produced in Thailand are exported to many countries around the world. The issue of chemical residues is an important topic that food manufacturers should take into consideration, from selecting the right thing at the first stage of product design and development.
 
International good practices should be applied to ensure that fisheries products are safe for consumption and have no chemical residue. Clear systems and procedures should be established to ensure the consistency of implementation.  

  • Food manufacturers shall have a clear system in place to update information in regard to food safety and legality (product destination countries’ regulations).
  • Detailed specifications shall be established for raw materials, ingredients, food additives and chemicals used in processing.
  • Detailed finished product specification shall be established and used as a guideline for releasing the finished product.
  • Guidelines shall be established on the following items to ensure sustainable safe food products:
    • Establish clear directions for safe food product production.
    • Collection of information in regard to chemical residue regulations (products destination countries’ regulations).
    • Buy raw materials from safe sources.
    • New product development under direction of safe food product production.

Detail of Good Practices as Required by the International Management Systems Standards:

1. Food manufacturer shall have a clear system in place to update information in regard to food safety and legality (product destination countries’ regulations).

a. Have a designated person taking responsibility for updating food safety and legal information, especially for the destination countries’ regulations.

b. Establish required qualification of the designated person:

  • Basic knowledge on food science and technology in order to ensure that he/she has a good understanding on chemical residues and food Law.
  • Good command of English, as most products’ destination countries and international guidelines for food safety are published in English. 
  • Skillful in searching information from different types of media.

c. Establish list of websites to be accessed for each product destination country.

d. Establish list of websites where the company can subscribe to and receive updated   information in regard to food safety and legality.

e. Distribute updated information to all relevant parties, such as production, quality control, engineering, quality assurance, research and development and others for further action.

2. Detailed specifications shall be established for raw materials, ingredients, food additives and chemicals used in processing.

Factors to be considered: 

a. Source of raw materials, ingredients, food additives and chemicals.  Different sources produce different types and quantity of chemical residue.

b. The type and quantity of chemical residues in different types of raw materials, ingredients, food additives and chemicals are different. Food manufacturers should identify the type and quantity of potential contamination in each raw material, ingredient, food additive and chemical.

c. Specification of each raw material, ingredient, food additive and chemical should be carefully established to ensure that they have details of acceptable limits in line with product destination countries.

d. Chemical residue analysis results for each raw material, ingredient, food additive and chemical should be reliable.

3. Detailed finished product specifications should be established and used as guideline for finished product release. This should be in compliance with the product destination countries’ regulations, for each product.

Consideration should also be taken on the maximum chemical residue allowed in each raw material, ingredient, food additive and chemical. The sum of chemical residues derived from all raw materials, ingredients and food additives should not exceed the acceptable level in a finished product for each formulation/recipe.
 
4. Guidelines should be established on the following items to ensure sustainable safe food products.

Examples of good practices to ensure sustainable safe food include:

a. Company management sets up the direction/policy for producing safe food and/or no chemical residue. Clear objectives and targets shall be established for all relevant parties, starting from department responsible for raw material sourcing through to the processing department.

b. Collecting information in regard to food safety and legality in order to have a clear direction of use and/or not allow use of certain materials for food production. This information can be used for either finished products’ specification or product release.

c. Seeking a safe raw material source and/or develop production farms to supply safe raw materials.

d. Careful selection of sources for raw materials and the ingredient and additives to be used, at the product design and development product stage. Select formulations and processing techniques to avoid unnecessary use of chemicals.

As one of the big food safety problems and causes of product recalls, chemical residues should be seriously discussed by Thailand’s food supply chain producers. The establishment of clear guidelines and procedures should be implemented as guidelines for good practice of each supply chain to ensure that fisheries products produced in Thailand will be “Safe for world consumption”. 

Article by

Ms. Teeranat Limpichotikul
Food Segment Manager
SGS (Thailand) Limited

Reference:

1. BRC Global Standard for Food Safety: Issue 6, 28 July 2011
2. IFS Food Standard: Version 6, January 2012