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Setting up a food-safe hygiene process

How to comply with HACCP and ISO 220000?

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What is HACCP?

When preparing food and drinks, working hygienically is a prerequisite for guaranteeing food safety for consumers. Companies that are active in the food sector are therefore obliged by law to comply with established hygiene regulations and to work in accordance with HACCP guidelines. HACCP is a food safety risk management system that can prevent the safety of food from being compromised. In order to comply with this, food companies are obliged to document a HACCP food safety plan. A food safety plan is drawn up in accordance with the European Hygiene Regulation and is based on the 7 basic principles of HACCP.

  • Ensuring pre-requisit programmes such as cleaning, pest control, supplier controls, entrance protocols, hygiene systems and others are in place, documented and operational.
  • Identifying and analysing potential food safety hazards within the production process.
  • Identifying points in the production process where certain risks may occur and establishing critical limits for control.
  • Defining and implementing effective control and monitoring procedures at critical points.
  • Establishing appropriate corrective actions to be undertaken when critical limits are not achieved. Recording activities in records and written reports that can be further analyzed and made available to third parties if requested.

All significant risks and associated risk management measures must be described in an HACCP plan. This is the only way to guarantee the food safety of products.

HACCP in food industry.

Setting up an HACCP plan takes time and knowledge

When a company produces, processes or distributes food, it is obliged to draw up a process- or business-related HACCP plan, which will be assessed by a relevent law authority or Certification Body. Drawing up an HACCP plan, however, is not something that can be developed at the drop of a hat. Drawing up such procedures requires specific knowledge, experience and time. This can be a major challenge for smaller companies, such as bakers, butchers, the hospitality industry and care institutions. For this reason, so-called hygiene codes have been created (in some countries).

A hygiene code is a general and practical handbook drawn up by trade and sector organisations for a specific sector. It’s not allowed to work with a hygiene code in all the European countries. In the Netherlands the hygiene code is for example well known. The manual contains specific HACCP guidelines for that sector and may be used as a replacement for an HACCP plan. The Hygiene Code is therefore officially recognised and allows smaller businesses to easily comply with the legislation. Every three to five years, the government evaluates the hygiene code and revises it where necessary.

What does a HACCP plan look like

Advantages of a hygiene code

If a company can work according to a hygiene code, then there are a number of advantages: 

  • The identification of hazards and the drawing up of control measures no longer need to be carried out because this has already been laid down in the code for standardized processes;
  • Important dangers are not overlooked because they have already been identified;
  • The code may be used to replace an HACCP plan. This saves a lot of work, and therefore time and money;
  • Companies only need to use those parts of the Hygiene Code that are relevant to their business operations.

Quality care systems, HACCP and ISO 

The government states that the producer is responsible for the safety of his product. The government determines what is safe by laying down this in rules (which are mainly determined by the European Commission). In order to keep things clear, four (quality) care systems are used:

  • A system for product quality
  • A food safety system
  • A system for the safety, health and welfare of personnel (Occupational Health and Safety)
  • A system for protecting the environment.

All important basic agreements on business operations and core processes are laid down in a (quality) care system. HACCP, ISO and other systems use different elements from the abovementioned care systems. HACCP focuses purely on food safety, while ISO quality management systems go a little further and also looks at business processes and structures. When a company starts working structurally according to the standards of such a system and that system is approved, then the organisation can receive a certificate or other form of recognition from a Certification Body. This enables the organisation to demonstrate to third parties, such as buyers, that it is in good order.


ISO 22000 Food Safety Management

The consequences of unsafe food are serious. The consequences of unsafe food are serious. Especially now that many food products continuously cross national borders, international standards are needed to guarantee the safety of the global food chain. ISO 22000 is such a standard and since 2005 has been the standard for food safety based on HACCP guidelines according to 'Codex Alimentarius' and the management principles according to ISO 9001. This globally accepted standard forms the basis for an internationally valid ISO food safety certificate and is aimed at all links in the agri-food chain. It therefore applies to primary production, retailers and supply companies such as the packaging and cleaning products industry. This can raise food safety performance throughout the chain to a higher level.


FSSC 22000 exists out of ISO 22000 certification which has been supplemented with a specific Basic Terms and Conditions Program. This offers many opportunities for specific branches in the food chain. FSSC also meets the GFSI requirements. 

Advantages of ISO certification 

Certification is voluntary, which means that an organisation can decide whether or not to embrace it. Certification to ISO Standards can have advantages:

  • A certificate based on requirements from international ISO standards can be accepted more quickly, both at home and abroad.
  • ISO 22000 offers an opportunity to reduce the number of food safety standards (for the entire chain), thus improving efficiency. This results in a reduction in costs for businesses.
  • ISO 22000 can be combined with other ISO standards in one integrated management system, which ensures optimal efficiency.
  • With ISO, a company can reduce the risk of incidents and improves the continuity of the organisation.

Retailers come together

On an international level, a number of large retailers are working together to improve food safety. They are united in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). In cooperation with the major producers in the world, the GFSI will ensure the establishment and implementation food safety standards, the development of an early warning system and an increase in consumer information. It also calls for more activity on the part of the government.

Food safety standards 

The GFSI recognises food safety standards against GFSI benchmarking requirements:

  • BRCGS (8, 6, 3)
  • Canada GAP (9)
  • FSSC22000 (5.1,5)
  • Global GAP (1.2, 5.3)
  • Freshcare (4.1)
  • Global Aquaculture Alliance (5)
  • Global Red Meat Standard (6)
  • IFS International Featured Standards (6.1, 2.2, 1.1,
  • Japan Food Safety Management Association (2.3)
  • Asia GAP (2)
  • Primus GFS (3)
  •  SQF (8)

It is often a requirement that suppliers of supermarkets must demonstrably guarantee food safety in accordance with one of the above standards. Supermarkets are free to decide which standards they want from their suppliers to comply with.


British Retail Consortium 

Large British supermarkets (Tesco, Safeway, Somerfield & Sainsbury) have united in the BRC. Together they set requirements for suppliers of food. These requirements have been incorporated in the BRC Food Standard. With such a certificate, a producer meets all the requirements set by the British supermarkets in one certification.

International Food Standard

IFS is a standard drawn up by the German trade association of food distributors (HDE). The French retail branch organization FCS has joined, as well as the Italian ANCC, ANCD and
Federdistribuzione who also support the standard. The standard has been developed on the basis of BRC.

Dealing responsibly with food

Demonstrable food safety in accordance with HACCP guidelines or a hygiene code, can only be achieved if it can be demonstrated in practice that products are handled in a responsible and safe manner. It must be demonstrated that all relevant conditions and process requirements from the Hygiene Code are met in practice. Adequate design, cleaning and disinfection of premises and equipment and personal hygiene are the basis for working hygienically.

In order to be able to implement food safety in practice, it is necessary to comply with HACCP guidelines. This means, in practice, aspects such as:

  • An HACCP plan (or Hygiene Code)
  • Process management
  • Fitting-out of facilities and equipment
  • Water supplies
  • Approved Supplier Controls
  • Environmental hygiene
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Pest control
  • Personal hygiene
  • Staff training and development
Hygiene food

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