On this page: Introduction | What does the law require? | What is a food hazard? | Do I have to check everything? | How detailed do the controls have to be? | Will that be enough to comply? | Due Diligence| Temperature control Monitoring | Step by Step Guide
Food hygiene legislation requires that food business operators shall identify steps in the activities of the business which are critical to ensuring food safety. They should also ensure that adequate safety procedures are identified, implemented, maintained and reviewed. This need not be complex. Simple instructions and records may be ample for a small business wishing to show due diligence.
For the more complex business the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP, pronounced 'ha-sup') system is one formal way of doing this. It is a straightforward and logical system based on the prevention of problems and is now well established in the food industry.
The information below gives some advice and guidance on hazard analysis. However it is not intended to be a comprehensive guide. For more information on hazard analysis you can contact the Food Standards Agency or the Environmental Health department. Leaflets, training and further guidance on hazard analysis in general can be obtained by contacting the Commercial Services Team using the details below.
What does the law require?
Food business operators shall put in place implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the HACCP principles.
A food hazard is anything that can contaminate the food or cause harm to the consumer. At its simplest, you should identify hazards within your food business with the potential to cause harm to your consumers (food hazards). Food hazards can be divided into 3 main groups, namely;
- Microbiological (e.g. harmful bacteria could be present in food)
- Chemical (e.g. cleaning chemicals contaminating food)
- Physical (e.g. glass or insects contaminating food)
No, but you must concentrate on the Critical Steps: these are the points at which the hazard must be controlled to ensure that it is completely eliminated or reduced to a safe level.
Once you have identified the food hazards, decide which are critical to ensuring food safety.
Controls should then be put into place to ensure food safety. Controls should be regularly monitored to check they are working effectively.
They must be as precise as possible: specify actual times and temperatures, particular cleaning chemicals, specific storage areas and times. Staff carrying out checks must be competent and must have the appropriate equipment.
No! Your business changes and your procedures must reflect those changes. New staff, equipment, changes to the menu and changes to suppliers will dictate change. There may be other reasons .... you must consider them all. It is essential to review your assessment, controls and monitoring procedures periodically and whenever food operations change (e.g. menu, processes, equipment).
As a producer of food you are expected to show due diligence. Anyone prosecuted under food hygiene legislation can offer in defence proof that they have taken all reasonable precautions to avoid the offence and have shown due diligence in the implementation of those precautions.
When you have correctly identified the hazards and risks associated with your business and introduced measures to control them you have taken considerable steps towards demonstrating due diligence. A good way of doing this is by having good written records and demonstrating good practice in your work. Staff training forms a critical part of this proof.
Correct temperature control is the single most important factor in preventing food poisoning. The common food poisoning organisms cannot multiply or produce poisons at temperatures below 5°C, and at temperatures above 63°C they begin to die off.
The table below is intended as a guide only for considering hazard analysis.
|Step ||Hazard ||Action |
|1. Purchase ||High risk (ready to eat) foods contaminated with food poisoning bacteria or toxins (poisons produced by bacteria). ||Buy from reputable supplier only. |
Specify maximum temperature at delivery.
|2. Receipt of food ||High Risk (ready to eat) foods contaminated with food poisoning bacteria or toxins. ||Check it looks, smells and feels right. |
Check the temperature is right.
|3. Storage ||Growth of food poisoning bacteria, toxins on high risk (ready to eat) foods. Further contamination. ||High risk foods stored at safe temperatures. Store them wrapped. Label high risk foods with the correct 'sell by' date. Rotate stock and use by recommended date. |
|4. Preparation ||Contamination of high risk (ready to eat) foods. Growth of food poisoning bacteria. ||Wash your hands before handling food. Limit any exposure to room temperatures during preparation. Prepare with clean equipment, and use this for high risk (ready to eat) food only. Separate cooked foods from raw foods. |
|5. Cooking ||Survival of food poisoning bacteria. ||Cook rolled joints, chicken, and reformed meats, e.g burgers, so that the thickest part reaches at least 75°C. Sear the outside of other, solid meat cuts (e.g joints of beef, steaks) before cooking. |
|6. Cooling ||Growth of any surviving spores or food poisoning bacteria. Production of poisons by bacteria. Contamination with food poisoning bacteria. ||Cool foods as quickly as possible. Don't leave out at room temperatures to cool unless the cooling period is short, e.g place any stews or rice etc., in shallow trays and cool to chill temperatures quickly. |
|7. Hot-holding ||Growth of food poisoning bacteria. Production of poisons by bacteria. ||Keep food hot, at or above 63°C. |
|8. Reheating ||Survival of food poisoning bacteria. ||Reheat to above 75°C. |
|9. Chilled storage ||Growth of food poisoning bacteria. ||Keep temperature at right level. Label high risk ready to eat foods with correct date code. |
|10. Serving ||Growth of disease-causing bacteria. Production of poisons by bacteria contamination. ||COLD SERVICE FOODS - serve high risk foods as soon as possible after removing from refrigerated storage to avoid them getting warm. HOT FOODS - serve high risk foods quickly to avoid them cooling down. |
For further information please contact the Commercial Services section
Commercial Services Team,
Public Protection Services,
Barrow Borough Council,
Telephone: 01229 876543.