Food qualityFood quality is an important food manufacturing requirement because consumers are extremely vulnerable to any form of contamination. Many consumers also need to rely on the standards of manufacture, particularly the selection of ingredients due to dietary requirements, which might be based on religious dietary laws (see kosher, halal), or medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, or allergies).
In addition to the quality applied to ingredients there is also significant need to control the environment where food is produced to ensure that it is hygenic and that food is exposed to appropriate temperatures. Traceability of the source of ingredients and processes used to manufacture food are key techniques as is the implementation of Food Labelling standards coupled with Best before dates.
The most common result of poor food quality is Foodborne illness which is most often a result of contamination by bacteria and being kept for too long at an elevated temperature. Typical bacteria at the right temperature can double in numbers every twenty minutes or so and although the bacteria may not themselves be harmful they produce potent toxins. Cooking at a temperature above 60 degrees Celsius for an appropriate length of time will kill bacteria whilst chilling and freezing will make bacteria dormant. However, if these processes are carried out too late the toxins already existing may not be affected.
Ensuring that the food supply is of a consistent and known quality is one of the main goals of agricultural policy, though this policy generally ensures that the food is wholesome, free from pesticides and attractive. Other objectives of agricultural policy, such as crop intensive cultivation or introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops may not have full consumer support nor be of long term value. There is a large consumer following for organically grown food which has not been exposed to any form of chemical treatment.