Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Hazard Analysis (HACCP) What is it and why should I do it?

Information

This page has been written to help you write a hazard analysis document that is relevant to your business. Guides in alternative languages can by found at the bottom of this page. Following the steps as described will simplify the process by breaking down what you need to do into easy to follow steps. Once you have completed the steps in relation to one part of your business, you can then do the same for every other part of your business.


What is HACCP?

All food businesses have a responsibility in law to ensure that the food they prepare and sell is safe to eat. Hazard Analysis is a Food Safety Management System for owners of food businesses, designed to ensure that they comply with this legal obligation.

In broad terms, "hazard analysis" means :-

(i) Making sure that you know what could make your food unsafe to eat

and

(ii) Making sure that you stop food becoming unsafe to eat.

It is probable that if you are following good catering practice recommendations, you are already running your business using the principles of hazard analysis every day without realising it !


Why should I carry out a HACCP?

Under the Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006 it is a legal requirement for Food business operators to put into place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on the principles of hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP).

A second benefit of having a written hazard analysis within Wales is that it could help you achieve a Welsh Food Hygiene Award at a higher level.

Writing a hazard analysis document can also benefit your business by improving its efficiency, reducing wastage and improving staff morale. For many, it is something that they have not yet attempted to do. Writing your hazard analysis is a skill to be learned, like many other things and knowing where to start is often the most difficult part.

These pages have been written to try and help you. Simple language has been used wherever possible and guides you through a step by step approach which, if followed will result in you having a really good opportunity to put together an impressive document relevant to your business. Good Luck !!


Words and phrases - what do they mean?

The amount of jargon used in this document has been kept to a minimum. However it is necessary for you to know some key terms and what they mean.

Below is a list of some of the words and phrases that you will see throughout this document and also in other literature about this subject, along with an explanation about what they actually mean!

Words and phrases
WORD(S) WHAT IT MEANS EXAMPLES
HAZARD Something that could cause harm to the person who eats the food.
  • Bacteria (Germs)
  • Chemicals
  • Foreign bodies in food such as glass, nails etc.
  • There are many more so keep an open mind !!
CONTROL our precautions—in other words what you do to prevent the hazard or minimise the risk (likelihood) of the hazard occurring
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Keep food covered
  • Keep food in the fridge
CRITICAL CONTROL POINT This phrase describes the precautions which must be in place if the food you sell is going to be safe to eat
  • Thorough cooking of raw meat - Nothing else will make that food safe if it is not cooked properly
MONITORING What you do to check that your controls are being followed
  • Temperature Records
  • Visual checks by staff
CONTAMINATION This means that something has got onto or into the food that shouldn't be there
  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • All types of foreign bodies in food (also termed Physical Contamination)

Starting your Hazard Analysis - Step 1

The first step is to consider your business as a whole and what sort of activities you undertake. Look at the flowchart below and highlight and number the steps within boxes that are relevant to your business. The numbers can then be added to your hazard analysis sheets later on.

Using the information below you should be able to construct a flow diagram which represents your business activities.




Thinking about hazards - Step two

Next, you should make sure that you understand what is meant by the term hazard and that you can identify which hazards may be present in your business. If you need any help before you feel comfortable to carry on contact your local Food Safety Section.

To complete this step, you need to think about what is possible - not what you believe to be likely to happen. In other words, you have to think about what could in theory go wrong even if you are already taking precautions to prevent it from happening.

There are many hazards which exist in a typical catering environment.

It is easier to remember that all of these hazards fall into five main categories. These are:-

Category of Hazard Examples Include
Bacterial Contamination Bacteria moving from raw to cooked or ready to eat food —otherwise known as cross-contamination
Bacterial Growth Bacteria growing on food when not kept under correct temperature control
Bacterial Survival Bacteria not being killed by cooking or during cleaning processes
Chemical Contamination Cleaning products being stored in old food containers and then the chemicals being used by mistake to prepare food.
Physical Contamination Drawing pins falling off an order board into the food being prepared below.

Choose one of the steps on your flow diagram that you have hi-lighted as being applicable to your business e.g. cooking of food or chilling of food

Which step have you chosen? Write it on the hazard analysis sheet (see download list) against "Step"

You should now think about which of the categories of hazards listed above are possible at this step and how they could specifically occur at this step. It is possible and often probable that more than one of the categories of hazards could exist at each step so think them through in turn and write down all that you can.

Write down what you consider to be hazards on the hazard analysis sheet as a list in the first column entitled "Hazards"


Thinking about Controls—step three

Once you have identified what could go wrong, the next stage involves considering what you do to prevent the hazard from occurring.

These are your controls

When thinking about your controls there are some issues to consider :-

THE CATEGORY OF HAZARD

Make sure that the control is relevant and will completely eliminate the hazard or reduce it to an acceptable, safe level.

WHAT IS POSSIBLE

It is important that your controls are achievable and realistic and that they can be understood by all of your staff.

It is important that you and your staff can put in place the controls you have identified

IS THE CONTROL A CRITICAL CONTROL ?

Is this the control that MUST be in place to ensure food safety

This question is very important and will help you prioritise your thoughts and efforts.

For example, there is a hazard that bacteria on and in raw meat could survive if it is not cooked properly. Nothing else that you do to that meat can make it safe to eat and therefore thorough cooking is critical to food safety.

Turning to the hazard analysis sheet on which you have already listed your hazards, you should now list against each one what your controls are under the column "Controls" and then in the next column "Critical Control" tick which control(s) you consider to be critical to the safety of the food you prepare and serve.


Thinking about monitoring - Step four

You have now gone a long way towards completing your hazard analysis for the step that you have chosen.

The next stage is to document how you are going to check that the controls and particularly your critical controls are being carried out.

Monitoring can take place in a number of ways. If possible you should have a target to check against. Examples include:

  • Recording Sheets for temperature controls
  • Sheets for staff to use to confirm that cleaning of different areas has been undertaken, when and by whom. You could check this against your cleaning schedule
  • The keeping of records showing when a piece of equipment was serviced or calibrated (checked to make sure it is given the right temperature readings)
  • Visual checks by senior staff to ensure staff are following standards required relating to personal hygiene and food preparation rules.
  • Date Markings on Food

To help you keep a written record of your monitoring of controls, there is a selection of standard recording sheets included in the download section for you to use and reproduce as necessary.

How you will undertake the monitoring is up to you but it must be suitable for the control.

Secondly, you should ensure that all staff know what to do if they find that something has actually gone wrong—This is called "Action on Deviation". For example, what would you expect your staff to do if they found that the fridge was not running at the correct temperature? The actions required should be clear and easy to understand.

Turn to your hazard analysis sheet. Against each control, list under the heading "Monitoring" how you will monitor that the controls are being carried out. Please note that ALL critical controls should have some form of monitoring.

Once you have done this, under the heading "Action on Deviation" give clear instructions about what staff should do if they find that something is wrong.


Congratulations, if you have got to this stage, you have completed the first part of writing down your system to ensure food safety within your business. Now, you need to go back to step one and repeat the process for each part of your business, each time building up your hazard analysis sheets, until all of the steps of your business have been assessed.