The Role of Governments in Food Hygiene

Governments Must Enforce Food Hygiene Law and Stop Passing The Baby

Governments have a key role to play in the area of food hygiene. Only a few decades ago our eating habits were much different. Each nation had its traditions and idiosyncratic food culture. With the mass development of the tourist industry populations have discovered new food cultures and now demand’s products from around the world to add diversity and interest to their diets.

This presents challenges for the authorities of any country. The level of control which the authorities have in territories outside of their own is at least very limited. The quality control of food products and the procedures of growth and preparation of materials used in these products are put into the hands of industry on the understanding that companies function along national, regional and international guidelines.

Generally speaking, the quantity of newly imported food products coming through borders of countries far exceeds the capabilities of the relevant authorities of any specific country to regulate. Most authorities have massive back logs of product samples that are waiting to be checked. Just stocking these products is a logistical nightmare.

Although imported products bring an influx of new microbial species with them, so do tourists. Tourists that come back from foreign holidays do so with microbial samples of their experiences and the places they visited. Many of these tourists may work in the food industry which means that there is potential for new microbes to spread throughout populations. The influx of immigrants into western countries is also a major contributory factor in the introduction and spread of microbial Species.

The task of food hygiene law enforcement is carried out by governments at central, regional and local authority levels. As we go up the food chain toward the end consumer we find that central and local governments hare having to deal with subjective issues such as facial culture which complicate the enforcement of food hygiene laws in many instances. Immigrant populations claim the right to practice their own traditions and practices which is many instances is not conducive to the statutes of law in areas of food hygiene. Authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to relate to issues as objectively as they would like.

The role of government in the area of food hygiene is first and foremost to protect consumers from illness and injury that may be cause by food in an adequate manner. The policies of the government should consider the vulnerabilities of the population as a whole and/or the vulnerabilities of specific groups within the population.

It is the job of the government to divide this task to different authorities who’s job it is to oversee different aspects of food hygiene and safety control. It is also the job of government to see that information flows freely and effectively throughout this chain where and when applicable.

Governments should also provide assurance that food sold within its jurisdiction is suitable for human consumption. The government has to take ultimate responsibility for the safety of it’s citizens.

The government also has to maintain confidence in the public eye that internationally traded food is safe to eat and provide food hygiene educational programs that effectively communicate the principles of correct food hygiene principles both to agriculture, industry, trading and consumers alike.

Trade agreements with foreign countries should be made in such a way that the national interests of the population is safeguarded. When these conditions are breached action must be taken to safeguard the public interest.

The area of food hygiene is one which is constantly changing. The microbial world is very dynamic and changes from day to day. The actions of people within the food industry also changes and in many cases looks for ways to cut or minimize safety procedures and standards. It is the job of government to ensure that the financial gain of unscrupulous people and both in the national and international arenas do not harm the well being of the consumer and to everything within their power to convince foreign governments to control exported product quality.

The Paleo Diet: Arthritis, Inflammation, and Food Allergies, Help, or Hype?

Everywhere you look there is a “new” weight loss, health promoting, or performance enhancing diet. “The Paleo Diet,” (Paleo: being before the agricultural revolution) created by Dr. Loren Cordain is gaining a lot of buzz. It is promoted as an anti-arthritis diet.

In this diet, Dr. Cordain outlines a “hunter-gatherer” diet plan, claiming to help people optimize health, minimize risk of chronic disease, reduce inflammation, and lose weight. It is based upon common, modern foods, which mimic the food groups of our (pre-agricultural) ancestors. The concept is, “If the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.”

This is due to the high correlation between inflammation of the gut and joints. Autoimmune problems are thought to result from lectins, a protein often found in grains. When consumed in large quantities, these lectins could lead to increased inflammation. Wheat contains both gluten and lectins, and intolerance to both gluten and dairy lectins have been connected to arthritis.

A diet too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids can also promote inflammation. Omega-3 fats are known to reduce inflammation, while overconsumption of Omega-6 fats has been linked to arthritis inflammation. Processed oils such as corn, soybean, and vegetable oils contain high levels of Omega-6’s, unlike butter, olive oil, or coconut oil. Both fats are necessary, but in a proper ratio. Creating a smart balance can help improve health.

While interesting in theory, it is not a magic bullet. Eating and exercise patterns have changed dramatically since prehistoric time. Because our lifestyles are different from our Paleolithic ancestors, so are our nutritional needs.

(Pros) The Paleo Diet:

  1. Promotes eating natural foods, needed to maintain health. The body and brain work in harmony, and all-natural foods promote functioning, whereas highly processed foods can cause dysfunction.
  2. Uses protein as the mainstay of the diet, and decreases carbohydrates and processed foods. This ratio of protein to carbs, was seen more in our earlier ancestors.
  3. Lowers the chance of health problems due to food intolerance. For people with arthritis, food allergies or sensitivities, (especially to gluten, nuts, additives, dairy, artificial preservatives, or refined carbs) such restriction can create a noted health advantage.
  4. Encourages lower carbohydrate intake and lower glycemicfoods. Foods low on the glycemic scale are digested and absorbed more slowly, so they do not spike blood sugar.
  5. Creates a high fiber intake, which is essential for good health. Whole grains, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are excellent options to increase fiber; they promote intestinal health and reduce inflammation.
  6. Does not demonize healthy fats. Encouraging and allowing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with balancedOmega-3 and Omega-6 fats, offers a cardiovascular benefit.
  7. Promotes a net dietary alkaline load, tobalance dietary acid.This offers a range of health benefits such as stronger bones and muscle, lower blood pressure, and a decreased risk for kidney stones.
  8. Increases potassium intake and decreases sodium intake. Unprocessed, fresh foods contain 5 to 10 times more potassium than sodium, (a ratio to which Stone Age bodies were adapted).

(Cons) The Paleo Diet:

  1. Demonizes Dairy (a healthy food group). Unless you have a true sensitivity, there is no need to exclude dairy, which serves a distinct purpose in the diet. It provides essential nutrients the body needs to function properly.
  2. Excludes potatoes, legumes, and peanuts. While higher in glycemic value, potatoes are a natural starchy vegetable. All natural foods should have a place in healthy diets. Learning when, and how to place them in your diet, would provide more benefit than excluding them.
  3. Is restrictive. It provides a list of off-limits foods (many of which are natural and healthy). Not everyone is willing, or able to withstand this, making adherence a problem. Processed foods, sugars, and starches are not allowed. For some this would be a deal breaker.
  4. Does not emphasize the role of exercise and leading an active lifestyle. Diet is only one component of living a healthy lifestyle. Any plan that does not include the role of movement, in one’s life, should be looked at with skepticism.
  5. Does not address or take into consideration, the mental component of eating. While a scientific approach is taken, the mental attachment to food can often override what we understand to be beneficial. By not offering support or accountability, this plan leaves room for a high drop out rate.

The bottom line is, if you are looking for a different approach to eating, have some food sensitivities or arthritis, need structure, and would be willing to restrict your food options, this plan could provide the health benefits claimed by the creators.

However, a half-hearted attempt could lead to more frustration and perhaps additional pounds. Keep in mind, healthy eating is not something you do TO yourself, but FOR yourself. Finding a method that works in your lifestyle, makes that possible. Here is a general checklist for evaluating any healthy living plan. Does it:

1. Increase healthy, natural, and unprocessed foods choices (not restricting any one food or group).

2. Decrease highly processed foods, sweets, and calorie dense food options.

3. Guide you to stay mentally engaged to what and why you eat, along with providing support and a means for accountability.

4. Encourage you to create, and stick to a plan to move more daily.

5. Allow you to make wise choices 80% of the time and allow 20% of the time for indulgences.

Mums and Food!

What is it about mothers and food? We were having a conversation today at the gym about how mothers often feel that they have to feed everyone all the time, whether they want to eat or not. Offering food is frequently an automatic response when people arrive at their homes.

When a woman becomes a mother she usually becomes the primary carer for her new-born baby. Many women feed their child on demand, often as frequently as every two hours. Child and food often become completely connected in their minds.

Then as the child gets older, food treats can become the bribe for good behaviour, for eating their vegetables, for doing well. When their friends call to play the sign of being a good mother is to lavish them with lots of treats, cakes, biscuits, ice cream. It can become important to be recognised as the best mum, and that often includes food.

Many women these days offer choices to their children at meal times, or they ask in advance what they want to eat. Several of my friends regularly cook completely different meals for each member of their family. Fads, bizarre diets, likes and dislikes are all accommodated. They seem to regard it as a necessary part of being a good mum.

Many women enjoy cooking large meals and then spend a lot of time trying to encourage their family to eat it all. Even when they have been told by their children that they are not hungry I know of women who will still cook a large casserole and then try to entice and coerce their children to eat it up.

It is as if food, love, hospitality, caring and nurturing are all part of the same mindset. For many people and cultures being a good host and providing extensive food and welcome to all comers is a spiritual as well as a moral and ethical family concept. This mindset seems to be replicated as mothers welcome their children home from school or work. They are returning home after a days adventures and therefore need to be fed.

Balance has got to be the key. Allowing children to dictate their diet and decide what to eat is a recipe for fussy, difficult children. It is important for children to learn about balanced meals, about a good and healthy diet, what food provides for them in the way of nutrition, development and growth. They also need to learn about good manners and being able to eat a varied diet, to be able to eat what they are given in a polite and respectful way.

In these days of abundance and plenty many children are becoming obese, they are developing an unhealthy relationship with food and often eat far too much, often of the wrong foods. Learning to stay aware of their full and hungry signals is an important guide to eating the correct amounts of food, and then stopping eating. Leaving food when they have eaten sufficient should be okay. Becoming aware of what each child needs to eat can enable portion control to become incorporated when serving their food.

Waste is an interesting topic. For many people waste is a serious matter and is to be avoided at all costs. Some people may freeze uneaten food. Others decide to eat it themselves. Some people even admit to eating the uneaten food off their childrens plates to avoid wasting it. Learning to appreciate how much a child eats and not over-facing them, allowing them to discover for themselves when and how much they need to eat to feel satisfied and full is an important skill to teach children as they learn to manage their own food intake and have a comfortable relationship with eating most food. This enables them to ultimately take better care of their own nutrition and health.