Own-check refers to a system of a food business operator under which the operator itself seeks to ensure that a food product, primary production premises and food premises, including any activities carried out in them, meet the requirements laid down in foodstuff regulations. The operator must recognize and manage the factors that endanger the safety of their products and operations.
Risk factors and hazards in foodstuffs
Food products are generally safer than ever before. However, they can be associated with risk factors that can cause harm to human health. Risk is the possibility or probability that a negative effect caused by a hazard will occur. The hazard may be a microbiological, chemical or physical factor that may weaken food safety and cause adverse health effects for consumers. The risks vary from food to food, and it is difficult to compare the short- and long-term effects they cause.
Food-related risks may include:
- Too little or too much food is available, which can lead to malnutrition or overweight.
- The composition of the food may be unfavorable to health. For example, excessive intake of hard fats can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, or excessive intake of sugary products can lead to dental caries.
- Food or drinking water can be accompanied by microbes or microorganisms that can cause infectious diseases or food poisoning.
- Food may contain natural harmful substances such as lectins in legumes.
- Food can also be accompanied by various environmental contaminants or chemical substances such as dioxin, methylmercury, additives, pesticides, etc.
The risk to which the consumer voluntarily is exposed is not as frightening as the risk that the consumer himself cannot influence through his choices. Excessive fat or sugar from food doesn’t feel as scary as mad cow disease, environmental toxins, or harmful microbes.
Some consumers are particularly sensitive to certain food-related risks. Risk groups include children under school age, pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly and the seriously ill who have decreased resistance due to illness (e.g. cancer).