Food Safety and Hygiene Incorporating Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Terminology Explained
This document is designed to explain terminology commonly encountered in food safety and hygiene incorporating Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). The document is aimed at those people with limited understanding/knowledge and/or experience of food safety and hygiene. It can also be used as a day-to-day reference source. The purpose of the document is to provide help in the initial and ongoing development and implementation of HACCP at all levels in the food sector. All examples used in the document are for illustration purposes only. The document is not exhaustive and should be used in conjunction with other information resources.
A procedure by which a recognised independent body accredits organisations which are involved in the certification of quality systems, products, services or personnel, to recognised national and/or international standards. The accreditation body may also carry out accreditation inspections in its own right. In Ireland the official national organisation for accreditation is the National Accreditation Board (NAB) e.g. NAB has accredited the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) for the certification of quality inspections and in its own right NAB has accredited many food testing laboratories in Ireland for tests such as fat content.
Ambient (Room) Temperature(see Danger Zone, End Point Temperature)
The temperature of the surrounding working environment.
A detailed examination, i.e. test of a food, process or area e.g. a laboratory carries out an analysis of a cooked chicken burger to determine its fat content.
Chemicals synthetically produced or naturally produced by microorganisms which are able to kill or stop the growth of another microorganism e.g. penicillin.
Antimicrobial(see Antibiotic, Disinfectant)
A process or chemical designed to reduce or stop microorganisms from growing e.g. antibiotics, antiseptics, disinfectants.
A reputable or reliable supplier of materials or services used in the preparation of a food e.g. a well known or established business which you have done business with before.
Assessment(see Audit, Environmental Health Officer (EHO), Inspection)
This is the collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence to determine how well a HACCP plan performs against the needs, standards and expectations of a particular business e.g. normally carried out by a local EHO, but can be carried out by a business themselves.
Audit(see Accreditation, Inspection)
An audit is a systematic and independent process of collecting information about a particular businesses HACCP plan and evaluating this information objectively for the purpose of reporting on the level of compliance between the collected information and established HACCP compliance standards. An audit can involve looking at paperwork and actual working procedures e.g. an accredited food testing laboratory is visited by NAB and its procedures, tests and results are examined to make sure they are correct.
Single-celled living organisms which cannot be seen with the naked eye e.g. salmonella bacteria.
A chemical or process designed to destroy bacteria e.g. chlorine based disinfectant.
The date up until a food can reasonably be expected to retain its best quality if kept under the correct storage conditions. ‘Best-before’ dates are more about quality than safety e.g. canned and dried foods such as soft drinks, crisps and biscuits.
Living organisms (e.g. pathogenic bacteria) which may cause harm if they or their products are consumed in food e.g. Salmonella bacteria in a ready-to-eat chicken meal.
A procedure for ensuring that a known measured output of an instrument such as temperature or weight corresponds to a known national standard value for that property e.g. a temperature probe for a freezer is calibrated to a national standard to have an accuracy of ±2 0C. A reading of -20 0C would indicate that the temperature in the freezer is between -18 0C and -22 0C.
A person who harbours disease causing organisms inside their bodies and excretes them without suffering from symptoms of that disease e.g. a person recovering from salmonella food poisoning.
A procedure by which a recognised body, following its own independent assessment determines whether a business complies with the requirements of a recognised standard e.g. the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification for food businesses complying with the requirements of Irish and international standards e.g. I.S.343:2000 and ISO 9001:2000.
Checklist(see Decision Tree)
A written list of points or actions that need to be considered during the planning, implementation, assessment and ongoing operation of a HACCP plan e.g. a caterer is organising an internal audit of a HACCP plan and writes a checklist of things to examine during the audit.
Chemical Hazard(s)(see Contamination, Biological/Physical Hazards, Intoxication)
Chemicals (e.g. poison) which may cause harm if consumed e.g. bleach in milk.
Clean(see Cleaning, Cleaning Schedule)
A surface free of food particles, dirt, grease and other undesirable debris.
Cleaning(see Clean, Cleaning Schedule)
The physical removal of soil, food residues, dirt, grease and other undesirable debris e.g. scrubbing down a food chopping board
A written schedule used to describe all items which must be cleanedand free of soil, food residues, dirt, grease and other undesirabledebris. The schedule has details of what (i.e. items to clean), who(i.e. staff responsible), how (i.e. method of cleaning) and when (i.e. frequency of cleaning) e.g. a meat slicer must be cleaned every day, by the shop assistant by removing all parts and cleaning with detergent.
Commercially Sterile(see Sterile)
The condition achieved in a food by heating it alone or in combination with other ingredients or treatments, to render it free of organisms capable of growing in the food at room or ambient temperatures e.g. canned foods.
Competent Regulatory Authority(see Enforcement Officer, Environmental Health Officer)
The organisation with responsibility to enforce and ensure compliance with recognised standards and/or the requirements of legislation e.g. the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Meeting all the requirements of a recognised standard. A prerequisite of compliance in the food industry is ensuring that the statutory requirements of legislation are met or exceeded e.g. a catering business should comply with the NSAI Irish Standard for Hygiene in the Catering Sector (I.S. 340: 1994) and have in place a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP to comply with current legislation (S.I. No. 165 of 2000).
All actions in relation to particular guidelines, standards or legislation which are carried out according to established procedures e.g. the temperature of a refrigerator is maintained at 5 0C and the temperature of the food in it is recorded on a daily basis.
The presence of undesirable chemicals (e.g. detergent), foreign bodies (e.g. glass) or living organisms (e.g. salmonella bacteria) in a food e.g. a raw chicken product is contaminated with salmonella bacteria.
A process of ensuring that the correct procedures are being followed (i.e. to control) and all necessary actions are taken to ensure a food process meets requirements (i.e. in control) e.g. the temperature of a beef burger is checked to ensure it has reached 70 0C for 2 minutes before cooking is stopped and the beef burger is served.
Any action at a control point which can be taken or used to prevent a hazard or reduce it to an acceptable safe level e.g. keeping the temperature of cooked ham at ≤5 0C.
A point or step in a food process where a control measure can be applied e.g. temperature measurement of a refridgerated storage unit.
Core or Centre Temperature
The temperature at the centre of a food e.g. the core temperature of a cooked pork sausage during cooking was maintained at 70 0C for 2 minutes.
The action taken when the monitoring of a critical control point indicates a potential loss of control, or when a critical limit is not met e.g. the temperature of cooked meat in a refrigerator rises to >10 0C for over 24 hours due to a technical fault in the refrigerator. The cooked meat is destroyed and the refrigerator is repaired by the manufacturer to maintain new cooked meat supplies at the correct temperature of ≤ 5 0C.
Critical Control Point (CCP)
A step in which control can be applied and is essential to prevent a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level e.g. cooking time and temperature for a raw chicken product.
Critical Limit(see Target Level, Tolerance)
A maximum or minimum limit (i.e. value) at a CCP which can be monitored and separates acceptable from unacceptable e.g. the core temperature at the centre of a cooked beef burger following cooking must reach 70 0C for 2 minutes.
The transfer of microorganisms from one source such as raw food, people, equipment or the environment to another source such as a cooked food e.g. raw meat held on the top shelf of a refrigerator drips onto a cake held on the bottom shelf and bacteria will spread from the meat to the cake.
Danger Zone(see Pathogen)
The temperature conditions or temperature ranges under which most pathogenic microorganisms may grow and multiply in foods e.g. between 5 0C and 63 0C.
Date of Minimum Durability(see ‘Best-before’ Date, ‘ Use-by’ Date)
The date until which a food retains its specific properties whenproperly stored e.g. a ‘Best-before’ date on a packet of crispsor a ‘Use-by’ date on a freshly prepared salad.
Decision Tree(see Checklist, Critical Control Point)
A series of questions used at each step with an identified hazard, in the preparation of a food to identify the critical control points.
Authorised officer appointed to enforce relevant legislation e.g. environmental health officers (EHOs), sea fisheries officers, veterinary inspectors, dairy produce inspectors.
Environmental Health Officer (EHO)(see Competent Regulatory Authority, Enforcement Officer)
EHOs develop, regulate, enforce and monitor laws and regulations governing public health including food safety in order to promote good health, hygiene and environmental practices.
Flow Diagram(see Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, Critical Control Point)
A graphical diagram detailing the sequence of operations involved with a particular food product or process, usually from receipt of raw materials to the final consumer. In HACCP these charts can help identify the CCPs e.g. a flow diagram showing the sequence of steps in the preparation of a cooked chicken breast sandwich.
Any substance used or intended to be used for normal human consumption e.g. water, beer, raw and cooked foods
Any establishment that produces, stores, distributes or sells food to consumers. These establishments can include preparation, storage, distribution and retailing e.g. a caterer, retailer, a sales depot, a haulage company.
Any person, who handles or prepares food whether packaged or unpackaged e.g. a person preparing a chicken sandwich in a cafe.
All measures necessary to ensure the safety and quality of food for sale or supply to the consumer e.g. food preparation, processing, storage, distribution, handling, display and retail.
A term commonly used to describe food which has being produced on an industrial scale e.g. frozen ready meals.
Food Thermometer(see Core Temperature, Temperature Probe)
A thermometer used to indicate temperature in foods. Food thermometers come in many forms such as digital handheld thermometers and simple insertion thermometers e.g. a meat thermometer is inserted into a pork product to indicate its temperature during cooking.
Two or more people developing the same illness after eating or drinking the same food e.g. a number of people visit a restaurant, eat the same meal contaminated with salmonella bacteria and become ill.
A foodborne illness resulting from the consumption of a biologically or chemically contaminated food e.g. eating a cooked chicken breast contaminated with salmonella bacteria and becoming ill.
Food Spoilage(see ‘Best-before’ Date)
Food that has decayed or decomposed due to the growth of microorganisms e.g. sour milk.
Fungi(see Moulds, Yeasts)
A large group of living organisms with many forms which vary from very small single celled organisms (e.g. yeasts) to larger multicellular organisms (e.g. moulds, mildews and mushrooms). All fungi are incapable of photosynthesis and are therefore not plants e.g. bread mould.
A medical condition which affects the stomach and intestines, commonly associated with foodborne illness e.g. eating shellfish contaminated with Norwalk-like virus and becoming ill with symptoms of diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
Examples of readily available HACCP plans which can be used as guides to devise a specific HACCP plan for a specific individual process.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)(see SOP, Specification)
The minimum quality and safety requirements aimed at ensuring that foods are prepared in a consistent manner according to agreed specifications e.g. raw and cooked food products are stored in separate refrigerators.
A food or process specific document written according to the principles of HACCP to ensure the control of hazards which are significant for the safety of that food e.g. a HACCP plan for a cooked ham sandwich.
The potential to cause harm. Hazards (i.e. dangers) may be biological, chemical or physical e.g. Salmonella species in a chicken burger (biological hazard), detergent in milk (chemical hazard) or glass in a breakfast cereal (physical hazard).
Hazard Analysis(see HACCP, Hazard)
A procedure for looking at a specific food process, identifying all hazards associated with that process and deciding which are significant to food safety and as such should be included in a HACCP plan e.g. the cross-contamination of a cooked chicken breast with campylobacter bacteria from raw chicken is identified as a hazard due to poor hygiene practice.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) (see CCP, Hazard, Hazard Analysis)
A system that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards (i.e. dangers) which are significant to a food’s safety e.g. a HACCP plan identifies the hazards in the preparation of a cooked pork sausage as the growth of Salmonella species and sets a CCP as the cooking temperature and time. Careful monitoring of the temperature and time will help to control and prevent salmonella growth.
High-Risk Activity(see High-Risk Foods)
Activities where high-risk foods are prepared and where the potential exists to put vulnerable people, (i.e. infants, the frail and elderly, pregnant women and the sick) or large numbers of consumers at serious risk e.g. a street vendor selling unpackaged ready-to-eat ham sandwiches from an un-refridgerated service unit.
High-Risk Food(see Pathogen, Ready-to-Eat Food)
Food which can support the growth of dangerous organisms (i.e. pathogens) and which will not be subjected to any further processing (e.g. cooking) which would destroy or reduce numbers of such organisms to a safe level prior to consumption e.g. raw seafoods, freshly prepared salads, some meats and dairy products.
The initial, ongoing use and updating of a HACCP plan.
The minimum number of a specific organism which is needed to cause an illness e.g. some evidence suggests that the infective dose of E. coliO157:H7 is less than 10 individual microbial cells.
An internal or external examination of a food, food process, quality or food safety system such as HACCP, in order to establish compliance with specific business, regulatory or legislative requirements e.g. an inspection of a restaurant by an EHO to ensure that hygiene regulations are been complied with.
An illness that results from eating food containing toxic chemicals or toxins produced by pathogenic microorganisms e.g. Botulism caused by eating a canned food containing the toxin produced by the microorganism Clostridium botulinum.
Activity where the potential to cause harm to consumers is low e.g. selling pre-packed chocolate bars in a newsagent.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Documents which contain safety information about specific substances. An MSDS must be available for every chemical found in the work place and are available from the chemical supplier or manufacturer e.g. an MSDS for sodium hypochloride commonly found in bleach products used in disinfection procedures.
Monitoring(see Control Limit, Critical Control Points)
The systematic observation, measurement and recording of the significant factors for control of a hazard at CCPs and assessing whether a CCP is under control e.g. recording the final cooking temperature and time for a cooked chicken breast.
Moulds(see Fungi, Yeasts)
A group of multicellular fungi used in the production of foods (e.g. cheese) and also responsible for the spoilage of some foods (e.g. bread mould).
A life-form that generally cannot be seen with the naked eye e.g. bacteria, viruses, yeasts, moulds and parasites.
A product or procedure that does not meet the required standard or specification.
A life-form that grows and feeds in or on a host life form without contributing to the well being of the host but not necessarily causing disease e.g. Trichinella spiralis is a parasitic worm which causes human illness, commonly associated with eating undercooked pork.
A heat treatment applied to food to destroy vegetative pathogenic microorganisms (i.e. not spores) and reduce numbers of other microorganisms to decrease the rate of spoilage e.g. raw milk is pasteurised by heating to 72 0C for 15 seconds.
Materials (e.g. glass or metal fragments) that may cause harm if consumed in foods e.g. piece of glass in a breakfast cereal.
Individual cleanliness and practices of cleanliness or personal care e.g. washing hands with soap and hot water after using the toilet.
Water which is fit for human consumption or for use in food preparation and complies with the requirements of current legislation (i.e. Irish Statutory Instrument No. 81 of 1988) e.g. treated mains water.
Prerequisites(Safety Support Measures)
Practices and procedures required prior to and during the implementation and ongoing operation of a HACCP system e.g. premises, equipment, staff training, pest control, waste management.
A system which endeavours to maintain the quality and safety aspects of a food from preparation, production, storage, distribution through to final consumption e.g. An Bord Bia Egg Quality Assurance Scheme
Raw Materials(see Specification)
All foods used as foods themselves or ingredients in other foods, including those which have been pre-cooked or packaging and food contact materials e.g. water, meat, vegetables, eggs, salt.
Ready-to-Eat Foods(see High-Risk Foods)
Any food (including beverages) which is normally consumed in its raw state or food which has being cooked or processed and does not require further cooking or processing to ensure its safety e.g. coleslaw, cooked sliced meats and smoked salmon.
Evidence, written or otherwise, of a working HACCP system and its prerequisites e.g. cooking temperatures, delivery or cleaning records.
Risk(see High-Risk Foods, Risk Assesment)
The probability of a hazard occurring e.g. the risk of cooked pork sausage not reaching the correct temperature during a defined cooking time.
Risk Assessment(see High-Risk Foods, Risk)
A process of identifying hazards, assessing risks, gauging severity and evaluating their significance.
A surface which is free from pathogens and other hazardous (i.e. dangerous) substances.
Shelf-Life(see ‘Best-before’ Date, Food Spoilage, ‘Use-by’ Date, Date of Minimum Durability)
The period of time during which a food will remain edible (i.e. ‘Best-before’ date) and microbiologically safe (i.e. ‘Use-by’ date) to consume.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) (see Good Manufacturing Practices, Specification)
A practiced procedure of controlling a food operation in accordance with agreed specifications to obtain a safe quality food product. SOPs are essential food safety practices that should already be in place as a prerequisite before and after a HACCP plan is implemented e.g. a written SOP on how to safely cook a beef burger.
Any point, procedure, operation, action or stage in the preparation and delivery of a food to the final consumer e.g. cooking is a step in the preparation of a cooked chicken sandwich.
A chemical or process used to clean and reduce numbers of microorganisms on a surface e.g. chlorine, ultra violet light.
The seriousness or magnitude of a specific hazard or its consequences.
Specification(see Food, Raw Material, SOP)
A written document (i.e. usually between supplier and customer) which defines the standards which separates acceptable from unacceptable for a specific ingredient or food product e.g. pre-packed sliced cooked ham will have a meat content of 90% and be free of all pathogens.
Microorganisms that can form resistant, inactive, spores inside their vegetative cells called endospores. Endospores can survive normal cooking. The spore state is a dormant stage or period of no growth. Under favourable conditions spores can produce a vegetative microbial cell which can subsequently grow and multiply in the food e.g. species of Bacillus and Clostridium bacteria can produce endospores.
Stock Rotation(see ‘Best-before’, Date of Minimum Durability,‘Use-by’ Date)
The practice of moving (rotating) food stocks so that stocks with the closest approaching ‘Best-before’ or ‘Use-by’ date are used first.
Target Level(see Control Measure, Critical Limit)
This is a more stringent limit for a control measure at a critical control point than the critical limit itself. Target levels can be applied at CCPs to ensure that action can be taken prior to the actual critical limit being exceeded, thereby avoiding the need for more series corrective action e.g. if the critical limit for refrigerated storage of raw chicken is 5 0C then the target level might be 3 0C.
Temperature Control(see Danger Zone, High Risk Foods, Pathogen, Temperature Probe)
The practice of storing foods particularly high-risk foods, outside the temperatures in which microorganisms, particularly pathogens, will grow best e.g. storing coleslaw in the refridgerator at ≤5 0C.
Temperature Probe(see Monitoring)
The part of temperature measuring equipment that is used to physically make temperature readings e.g. inserting a temperature probe into a chicken product to monitor temperature during cooking.
A specified level or degree of latitude set between the target level and the critical limit (normally defined in a specification) which if not met will make a food or its processing unacceptable e.g. where the critical limit for refrigerated storage of raw chicken product is 5 0C and the target level is 3 0C then the tolerance is 3 0C ± 2 0C. Any temperature outside this temperature range is outside the tolerance and unacceptable.
A toxin is a chemical (i.e. poison) that will cause illness and may be found in food naturally or due to biological, chemical or physical contamination e.g. Botulism, a form of food poisoning (i.e. intoxication) is the result of ingestion of the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.
The ability of a food business to follow a product batch and its raw materials from the preparation process through to the consumer and backwards to the raw materials suppliers e.g. bar-coding products, batch numbers.
‘Use-by’ Date(see ‘Best-before’ Date, Date of Minimum Durability, High-Risk Foods, Ready-to-Eat Food)
The date up until a food can reasonably be expected to be safe to consume if kept under the correct storage conditions. ‘Use by’ dates are more about safety than quality e.g. high-risk foods such as prepared salads, meat and dairy products.
Obtaining evidence that the elements of a HACCP plan are effective e.g. microbiological examination of equipment surfaces before and after sanitation to determine if the sanitation procedure was effective in reducing numbers of microorganisms to desired levels.
A form in which a microorganism is able to grow, given the correct conditions. Unlike endospores, vegetative cells are relatively poor at surviving environmental stresses such as high temperature e.g. salmonella bacteria are vegetative cells and don’t produce endospores.
The application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring to determine compliance with a HACCP plan e.g. microbiological analysis of a chicken burger to verify that it is free of campylobacter bacteria after cooking.
“Çalışmadan, yorulmadan ve üretmeden, rahat yaşamak isteyen toplumlar; evvela haysiyetlerini, sonra hürriyetlerini daha sonra da istiklal ve istikballerini kaybetmeye mahkumdurlar.” Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK