Food Safety Management Procedures
There is a legal requirement for food business operators to put in place 'food safety management procedures' based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point).
What is HACCP?
HACCP is a way of managing food safety. It is based on putting in place procedures to control hazards. It involves:
Looking closely at what you do in your business and what could go wrong.
Identifying the 'critical control points' – these are the places you need to focus on to prevent hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level.
Putting in place procedures to make sure hazards are controlled at your critical control points.
Deciding what action you need to take if something goes wrong.
Making sure that your procedures are working.
Keeping appropriate records to show your procedures are working.
In practice, this means that you must have procedures in place to manage food safety 'hazards' in your business. You must write these procedures down, update them as needed and keep records that can be checked during food safety inspections.
Some people think that HACCP is very complicated, but it doesn't have to be. The important thing is to have food safety management procedures that are appropriate for your business. This means that many small businesses will have very simple procedures and records.
What is a hazard?
A hazard is something that could be dangerous. Food safety hazards can be
Microbiological – involving harmful bacteria, e.g when certain food is kept out of the fridge for too long and bacteria grow in it
Chemical – involving chemicals getting into food, e.g cleaning products or pest control chemicals
Physical – involving objects getting into food, e.g. broken glass or pieces of packaging
Hazards can happen at any stage in your business – from taking deliveries to serving customers.
How do I put in place food safety management procedures?
You can develop your own procedure based on the principles of HACCP. Alternatively you can use a pack produced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or a food industry guide recognised by them. The 'food safety management system' produced by the FSA is called Safer Food Better Business and it is designed to help small businesses comply with this requirement. Packs are free to download from the FSA website and are available for Caterers, Retailers and Childminders. There is an additional catering supplement for residential care homes and catering packs for Chinese cuisine or Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cuisines.
For small food manufacturing businesses, the Food Standards Agency has developed a free online tool called MyHACCP.
If your business handles raw food (i.e. meat, and fruit and vegetables that have been in contact with soil) and ready to eat food items you must consider the risk of cross-contamination by E.coli O157 as part of your Food Safety Management System and take any necessary control measures. Further guidance can be found on the FSA website.