Topic: Identification of key risk factors in controls of safety and authenticity of heritage food– case study in the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia
Heritage food is typically inherited from community ancestors, it usually has a long history of consumption, and is commonly part of the cultural history of a population. It involves elements such as characteristic agricultural products, specific ingredients, traditional dishes, preparation techniques, and recipes. Heritage food has proven usage in the community market for a period showing transmission between generations. Consumers increasingly demand heritage food due to its special traditional characteristics. For local consumers, it forms a very important part of their culture. Moreover, heritage food of any destination increasingly plays an important role in tourists’ experience. In the last few decades, tourist's perspective of traveling has changed and the focus is on the overall cultural experience instead of just visiting places. Important intrinsic quality attributes of heritage food encompass safety and authenticity; also, health aspects play a role. Authenticity is particularly important as it refers to typical aspect of heritage food such as its origin/genuineness, history, traditions, locality, and culture; these features are usually more difficult to assure than safety. Multiple factors such as the use of particular ingredients, cooking methods, recipes, seasonal availability, and level of knowledge could influence the authenticity of heritage foods. Safety is important as various microbial and chemical hazards can contaminate heritage food via raw materials, ingredients, inadequate processing conditions, and handling circumstances. Particularly, factors like improper cooking practices, temperature abuse during storage, lack of hygiene and sanitation, and lack of knowledge of food safety practices by food handlers have been identified in the hospitality industry as risk factors.
This research will focus on Saudi Arabia, since there is an increasing interest in preserving heritage food by local consumers on the one hand and a raising attention of tourists for heritage food on the other hand. However, there are very limited studies that have been done concerning actual safety performance and issues related to authenticity and health, particularly with heritage food. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have been done to gain insight in current control and assurance practices by FSE and by public and private safety authorities in the hospitality industry. To ensure safety and authenticity of heritage food for local consumers and tourists, there is a need to identify key risk factors that impede these attributes, and to assess current control and assurance measures in order to identify improvement measures for food safety and authenticity of heritage food, particularly in the Saudi Arabian hospitality industry. For this purpose, a heritage food concept will be developed as basis for identification of key-risk factors and development of tool(s) to assess safety and authenticity control and assurance practices by FSE and public (private) authorities. The aim of the research is to identify the key risk factors that have an influence on authenticity and safety of heritage food in the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia and develop tools to assess safety and authenticity control and assurance.