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
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
What does the law require?
Food business operators shall put in place implement and
maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the HACCP
What is a food hazard?
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
- Microbiological (e.g. harmful bacteria could be present in
- Chemical (e.g. cleaning chemicals contaminating food)
- Physical (e.g. glass or insects contaminating food)
Do I have to check everything?
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
How detailed do the controls have to be?
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.
Will that be enough to comply?
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,
Due Diligence/ Documentation
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.
Temperature Control Monitoring
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.
Step by Step Guide
The table below is intended as a guide only for considering
||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.
||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.
||Contamination of high risk (ready to eat) foods. Growth of food
||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.
||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
||Growth of any surviving spores or food poisoning bacteria.
Production of poisons by bacteria. Contamination with food
||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
||Growth of food poisoning bacteria. Production of poisons by
||Keep food hot, at or above 63°C.
||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.
||Growth of disease-causing bacteria. Production of poisons by
||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
Further Information on hazard analysis can be obtained using the
Commercial Services Team,
Barrow Borough Council,
Telephone: 01229 876444
Fax: 01229 876411