WHAT IS FOOD SAFETY AND HACCP?

‘Safety/Hygiene’ is a term which originally described the science of infectious disease prevention.Unfortunately, it is a term that is much misunderstood and often misused. Most people equate hygiene with cleanliness. You will discover just how wrong they can be.

The subject of food safety concerns all theoretical and practical considerations in the study of the prevention of food-borne infectious disease. Because of its inherent usefulness, its exact boundaries have become blurred and extended over the years so that it now encompasses quite a lot more than its main aim alone.

The importance of food safety as a subject cannot be overstressed. You should be in no doubt that the consequences of poor food hygiene can be, and often are, dire. Unfortunately it is not a fashionable subject and therefore does not receive the publicity it really deserves, except at a very elementary level. People do die as a consequence of poor food hygiene, and many thousands are made ill each year. To be responsible for the death of a customer is a frightening prospect, but this is the risk you run if you do not ensure that your food safety practices are correct. Even if you have never had anyone die in your establishment, could it be that your time and luck are running out? Hadn’t you better ensure that it never happens? It is not suggested that your establishment or your practices, are ‘dirty’. Not a bit of it. In fact, safe food could be produced in ‘dirty’ premises. Dangerous food is FREQUENTLY produced in ‘clean’ ones.

 

In general, food safety is important for three main reasons. They are:

Good food hygiene (which, remember, does NOT mean ‘cleanliness’), can prevent food consumers from becoming infected with various food-borne diseases, many of which can be fatal. Good food hygiene protects the food consumer; mere ‘cleanliness’ never does.

Correct food hygiene design and practice can protect both a business AND individual food handlers from possible prosecution by Local Authority Environmental Health Officers.

Good standards of food safety (not just ‘cleanliness’) can enhance and protect the reputation of a business (which, remember, can lead to increased profits and increased job security for all concerned).

WHY HACCP?

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP, is a system which gives a common sense approach to the safety management of food products. The system is designed to identify and control hazards which might occur anywhere in the food processing operation. By hazards we mean anything which has the potential to cause harm to the consumer.

HACCP is becoming increasingly important for all food businesses as an effective means of ensuring food safety and as a means of complying with new legislation. HACCP as an approach and philosophy can be applied to all sections of the food and drink manufacturing, distribution, retailing and service industry.

Adoption of a HACCP based safety management system demonstrates “due diligence”. Hazards are identified at every step in the food production process and asking “what could go wrong?” resulting in the production of unsafe food. We then go on to determine where controls must be put into the process to stop the hazards from causing problems. These are the Critical Control Points.

The primary objective of safe food production can then be achieved by managing the Critical Control Points effectively every day.

DEVELOPMENTS IN HACCP

International Developments

The use of HACCP became more widespread in the late 70,s – 80,s, but at that stage there was no single clearly defined approach. In 1988 the first international publication was produced by the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF). This covered microbiological hazards only.

During 1992 – 1993 the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), as well as Codex Alimentarius (WHO) developed guidelines. Both published approaches based on seven principles defining how to apply HACCP. Codex Alimentarius is now accepted as the international standard.

The controls described in the General Principles of Food Hygiene are internationally accepted as essential to ensure the safety and suitability of food for consumption. The General Principles are commended to primary producers, manufacturers, processors, food service operators, retailers and consumers alike. They follow the food chain from primary production through to the consumer, highlighting the key hygiene controls at each stage and recommending a HACCP approach wherever possible to enhance food safety

National Developments

In South Africa, most food processors and other food related companies have only recently embarked on the HACCP path. The application of the HACCP system has evolved and expanded into a basis for official food control and for establishing food safety standards for the international food trade. In terms of Council Directive 93/43/EEC on the hygiene of foodstuffs, all processors of seafood intended for the European Union countries were required to have adopted HACCP by December 1995. HACCP had to be in place for seafood processors exporting to the USA by 18 December 1995. Considerable progress has been made with the publication of various codes and legislation.

1) SANS 10049 (SABS 049: 2001)

This code of practice covers provisions for the hygienic handling of food for human consumption, in order to ensure a safe, sound and wholesome product. It applies to the preparation, processing, packaging, storage, transport, distribution and sale of food for human consumption. The overall aim of this code of practice is to set out the basic requirements for a food hygiene management system starting with management responsibility. Complying with the requirements of this code will go a long way in complying with the prerequisite programs required by HACCP.

2) Regulation 918 of 1999

No food shall be handled on any food premises in respect of which a valid certificate of acceptability has not been issued in terms of this regulation. To obtain a certificate of acceptability the food premises must comply with the requirements of the regulation, which addresses the general hygiene requirements for food premises and the transport of food. The certificate of acceptability is issued by the local authority in whose jurisdiction the premises are situated. Many of the prerequisite programs are covered by this regulation.

3) SABS 0330: 1999

The title of this code of practice is: The implementation and management of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. This code/standard contains the requirements for a HACCP system for the development, implementation and effective management of a functional process hazard control program in the food and allied industries to enhance food safety.

4) Regulation 908 of 2003

On the 27 June 2003, the Regulation Relating to the Application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System, was promulgated in terms of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972). The regulation states that once a specified sector and food handling enterprise has been listed, that sector and food handling enterprise may not handle food without a fully implemented HACCP system. Listing is made by notice in the Government Gazette after consideration of a request made by a representative body of a specific sector and food handling enterprise. The categories of sectors and food handling enterprises are specified in the regulation, covering all food products.

The current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s) specify the practices to be followed to ensure that food is manufactured, processed, packed, and held under conditions that are sanitary; and that such food is safe, clean and wholesome. Flick Environmental Services’ standard service procedures have been designed to comply fully with GMP’s, and this forms an integral part of our employee training.  After each visit a detailed pest control file which is outlined below will be completed with a full service report in which recommendations are made based on GMP’s. Any infractions are brought to the client’s attention, whether directly related to pest management or not. A fully completed pest control file can be supplied to the client if required for their GMP programme as follows:

Pest Control File contents and description (Food processing sites):

1. Service agreement & Pest Control Policy

1. Service agreement & Pest Control Policy

This is necessary to outline that the client has a regular service conducted on their premises by way of a service agreement which further outlines the procedures on how the service is undertaken as per the Pest Control policy.

2. Map

2. Map

This is drawn up and supplied to the client and is necessary for the positioning of all external tamper proof rodent stations which is required to be positioned at each side of every entry / exit point and at approximately 15 metre intervals where there are no entry / exit points. Each station will be numbered and dated in accordance to the above map. There currently are insufficient stations located on the site and a few are not installed in the correct areas.

3. Rodent bait station/ Insect light traps

3. Rodent bait station/ Insect light traps

Activity reports pertaining to monitoring all tamper proof rodent stations will be listed in this section, documenting a monthly report on the level of infestation located at each station. This will be further backed up by the service reports issued.

4. Service reports

4. Service reports

Service reports will be completed after each service outlining:

  1. The effectiveness of the treatment
  2. Standard of housekeeping and proofing recommendations
  3. Preventative treatments against pest not on contract
  4. Insecticides and Rodenticides being used on Clients premises.

5. Sighting Log

5. Sighting Log

A sighting log is used by the client to document any pest noted within the areas treated which is then followed up by the Flick service technician and a corrective action report is completed to back the findings up.

6. Flick Environmental Services Emergency Numbers

6. Flick Environmental Services Emergency Numbers

A list of telephone numbers for The National Poison Centre and all Management members of Flick;

Emergency telephone numbers:

7. Poison registration

7. Poison registration

This lists all pesticides and rodenticides applied on site and list each registration number applicable to the relevant pesticide.

8. Pesticide usage log

8. Pesticide Usage Log

A method for the service technician and client to monitor which pesticides are applied at each service and these pesticides will match up to what chemicals are documented in this file.

9. Material safety data sheets/ Labels of chemicals used

9. Material Safety Data Sheets / Pesticides Used

These are required for the file to concur with the above information documented on the service reports, pesticide usage log and poison registration list.

10. Certificates of Registration

10. Certificates of Registration

The section will include a copy of our company’s public liability, pest control technician’s registration certificate with The Department of Agriculture and our company’s registration.