Food Safety Management Systems
What requirements are there on food businesses to have adequate systems for managing food safety?
Food business operators are required to put in place procedures which manage
food safety within their establishment. Article 5 (1) of Regulation 852/2004
requires that the procedure or procedures be based upon the HACCP
(Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles. These principles are defined in the legislation as:
(a) identifying any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels;
(b) identifying the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels;
(c) establishing critical limits at critical control points which separate acceptability from unacceptability for the prevention, elimination or reduction of identified hazards;
(d) establishing and implementing effective monitoring procedures at critical control points;
(e) establishing corrective actions when monitoring indicates that a critical control point is not under control;
(f) establishing procedures, which shall be carried out regularly, to verify that the measures outlined in subparagraphs (a) to (e) are working effectively; and
(g) establishing documents and records commensurate with the nature and size of the food business to demonstrate the effective application of the measures outlined in subparagraphs (a) to (f).
The wording of the legislation gives flexibility in that it requires that the procedures
be based on those principles. It does not necessarily constrain food business operators to implement a HACCP system if this is not appropriate.
The extent to which management systems need to be documented will depend on the activities of the food business. In general, the higher the risk associated with foods handled or prepared at a premises, or the more complex the business is in terms of the numbers of staff employed or the number and type of catering steps involved in the provision of food from a premises, the greater the need for a more detailed assessment.
Such an assessment would which incorporate hazard identification, critical control point and critical limit identification, the development of appropriate monitoring procedures and corrective actions to be developed. The more complex the business, the greater the need to verify that the process works effectively and for documentation and record keeping to be established and maintained, to ensure the safety of foods produced or handled.