Updated: Jul 6
What is meant by food standards?
Food industries are being increasingly globalized which subsequently introduce more food risks into the food supply chain. With these increased food risks, food products are subjected to more complex food standards and regulations (1). Food standards and regulations refer to the laws and rules that control and regulate the composition, quality, labeling and advertising of food. These standards and regulations help protect food consumers from any potential foodborne illnesses. These standards either provide guidance for safe food production or provide risk management procedures against a certain threat of harmful acts that may affect public health (1).
Who is responsible for implementing food standards?
Developing food safety policies are essential for implementing food safety system. “Relevant and enforceable policies are required to create an enabling environment in which to develop and enforce food safety measures” (2). The Food Standards Agency (FSA) provide resources which can be used to support the implementation of food safety system. The size and complexity of the business determine the type of food safety system. For instance, large hospitals use an extensive and detailed system because of the high-risk level associated with large numbers and vulnerable consumers. In contrast, most small to medium sized businesses use other systems produced by FSA such as Cook Safe or Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) (3).
How are food safety systems implemented?
Food safety systems are implemented based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). HACCP aims to analyze and monitor potential chemical, biological, and physical hazards to keep people safe from hazards that could be found in foods from the beginning of its production to the consumption. HACCP principles are applied on raw material processing, procurement and handling, manufacturing, distribution, and product consumption (4). There are some pre-requisite hygiene requirements that are necessary to be implemented before introducing HACCP. These pre-requisites include but not limited to:
Food hygiene knowledge and training. Food handlers must have enough knowledge on how to achieve a proper food hygiene. Providing food handlers with adequate training on keeping the environment clean and handling foods is mandatory.
Adequate control measures. Control measures refer to applying certain procedures to help prevent occurrence of contamination. Control process includes proper maintenance of all equipment used, supply of quality materials, storage conditions, and cooking.
Proper design of facilities. The design of food facilities contributes to food hygiene. Materials used should not attract nor collect dust and pest droppings.
Tools and equipment for cleaning. Food contact surfaces should be always sanitized. Handwashing sinks should be provided for food handlers to perform handwashing. Mops, brushes, and cloths for cleaning should be also provided. (5).
To implement a successful HACCP program in food facility, there are seven main principles needed to be followed.
Conduct hazard analysis: This principle involves identifying all the possible and potential hazards that are likely to occur and documenting the steps of identification process. A justification for excluding or including hazard should be documented with the needed control measures.
Determine critical control points (CCPs): CCP refers to a point, step, or procedure at which a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable levels and control can be applied. In some cases, more than one CCP could be needed to control one food safety hazard. In other cases, one CCP could be used to control more than one safety hazard. In other words, the processing steps and the control needed to ensure food safety determine the number of CCPs.
Establish critical limits: A critical limit (CL) refers to the minimum and/ or maximum value to which a chemical , biological, or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to reduce, eliminate, or prevent a food safety hazard. CL is usually measured in time, weight, pH, temperature, water activity, or other measures that are based on regulatory standards.
Establish monitoring procedures: Describing the mentoring procedures for the measurement of the CL at each CCP is necessary. The mentoring procedures should provide information on who will be responsible for the measurement, how the measurement will be taken, when the measurement will be taken, and how frequently the measurement should be taken during food production.
Establish corrective actions: Corrective actions refer to the procedures that should be followed when a hazard makes it past the CCP or a deviation in a CL occurs. The HACCP team should identify how this deviation happened and take the necessary steps to prevent the hazardous food from entering the food chain. The HACCP team needs to make sure that the occurred problem will not occur again.
Establish verification procedures: Verification refers to performing audits on the CCPs, reviewing records, reviewing shipments, instrument calibration, and testing of products.
Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures:
The proper implementation of any of the HACCP principles reduces the hazards that would originate from raw materials, food surfaces, facility processes, and human error. Reducing the number of hazards during food production will subsequently reduce the products’ recall and complaints from food consumers.
1.Hanson EM. Why are food regulations important? [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://www.fooddocs.com/post/why-are-food-regulations-important
2.World Health Organization. Developing and Implementing a National Food Safety Policy and Strategic Plan. 2012; Available from: https://www.afro.who.int/sites/default/files/2017-06/developing-and-implementing-national-food--main-english-final.pdf
3.Food Safety Management Systems: In-depth. 2022; Available from: https://app.croneri.co.uk/topics/food-safety-management-systems/indepth#:~:text=Food%20business%20operators%20(FBOs)%20are,poisoning)%20and%20of%20being%20prosecuted.
4.HACCP [Internet]. Available from: https://www.creativesafetysupply.com/glossary/haccp/
5.Hanson EM. Prerequisite of HACCP – What are prerequisite programs? [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://www.fooddocs.com/post/prerequisite-of-haccp
6.Chaves B. What is HACCP and the Seven Principles?
Author: Madonna A. Fekry
Editor: Kayjah Taylor
Health Scientist: Madonna A. Fekry