You may own a pub, you may have just opened a sandwich shop, you may work in a childcare setting, a hotel, restaurant, or even work for a large food provider such as football club serving 10,000 meals on match day. It doesn’t actually matter what type of food business you work in or own. If you make 10 meals a day or 10,000, the principles behind HACCP and food safety are exactly the same.
So if you’re a food business owner, manager, supervisor, chef, waiter, pot washer, stockroom assistant or goods in/delivery person, this course is for you. Everyone plays an important part in running a successful Food Safety Management System based on HACCP Principles.
"What the **** is HACCP anyway?"
This colourful recent quote from a stressed takeaway owner goes some way to describe the frustration many caterers feel about HACCP. At first glance HACCP can appear to combine unnecessary EU laws, EHO interference, and excessive paperwork into one confusing mess that is designed to get in the way of doing your job as a caterer.
But the truth is, the safest food businesses are often the most profitable businesses, and all use HACCP at the heart of their operation. It is what the best operators do so well. Think about Mc Donald’s; they sell food in vast quantities in a safe, consistent and efficient way by following a set system which produces very little waste and even fewer food poisoning incidents.
HACCP stands for 'Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point'. It is a set of guidelines or rules that are used to identify threats to food safety, and to apply controls to reduce or eliminate the food safety threats identified.
The key word is control. In most cases we cannot completely eliminate every threat (every single bacteria for example). So instead we look at ways to control (reduce) the identified threats to a safe level. This is an important point so make sure you’ve really understood this concept before moving on.
The best way to understand HACCP is to actually split the word into two parts; HA and CCP:
HA = Hazard Analysis. This involves finding out what threats to food safety may exist - the bacteria in a pie, for example.
CCP = Critical Control Point. This involves doing something about the threats you have identified – such as cooking the pie to 75 degrees centigrade for minimum 2 minutes to the core.
In other words, you identify some threats and then put some controls in place to minimise the risk. These controls may include types of storage, (refrigeration/freezing), reducing time in the Danger Zone (more on this later), setting particular cooking times and temperatures, or even serving times.
Key Point 1
HACCP is about identifying potential problems, putting in place controls to reduce the risk, and deciding what you are going to do if something appears to be going wrong. HACCP really is that simple!
HACCP vs FSMS
What is the difference between HACCP and a Food Safety Management System? This can sometimes be misleading and often confuses people.
HACCP - As we have already discovered, HACCP is the set of guidelines or rules that must be used to identify the threats and then deal with them.
FSMS - A Food Safety Management System is the set of paperwork that sits behind HACCP. It is what your EHO will look at to make sure that you are maintaining food safety. It will include paperwork to prove that your system works and is being monitored day by day.
For example, this could be a form detailing how long you cooked the pie for and what temperature you cooked it to. If this information is recorded, this is the start of your due diligence defence and will also give your EHO confidence in how you run the business.
The complexity and size of the system will depend on the size of your business. It needs to cover the essentials without drowning you in paperwork. Ultimately it really does not matter if you call it a HACCP system or a Food Safety Management System, the important point is that you set the system up and ongoing, protect public health.
HACCP & the Law
Every food business must have a documented HACCP System. This has been a mandatory legal requirement for all food businesses in the UK since 2006.
Article 5 of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 states that ‘Food business operators shall put in place, implement and maintain a food safety management system based on the HACCP principles.’
Food safety law states that caterers have a legal responsibility to:
- Implement a Food Safety Management System based on HACCP principles
- Ensure that everyone connected with the design, implementation and running of the system has been appropriately trained
- Ensure the system remains up to date, including carrying verification and validation
Your legal defence position, known as due diligence defence, is severely weakened if something goes wrong and you do not have a system in place. Can you prove with records that you have taken every step possible to protect public health? The consequences of non-compliance with food safety law can lead to anything from an informal warning to prosecution and closure of the business.
HACCP & FSA Premises Rating
You will probably already be aware that all Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) now rate your food business through the hygiene rating inspection scheme from 0 to 5 Stars.
Your HACCP System has a large effect on your final star rating and it is usually impossible to score 5 stars without an effective HACCP/Food Safety Management System in place.
By the end of this chapter you should have developed the following understanding and insights:
- An understanding of the terms HACCP and FSMS in the context of safe food production
- An awareness of the legal basis of HACCP based Food Safety Systems in the UK