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Web site reviews
Web site reviews
The sites considered in this review represent a very small fraction of the material on this topic: the reviewed sites are provided as examples of sites providing information on this issue. The first set of sites reviewed is located in the USA, Canada and the UK and each is hosted by a government agency with responsibilities for food safety. The second set of sites are the databases of documents produced by three international organisations (the European Union, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation).
FDA - Centre for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
The FDA-CFSAN site includes a section related to HACCP. The URL for this section is as follows: http:/vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/haccp.html
This HACCP home page provides links to a variety of HACCP related topics including areas concerned with the application of HACCP principles within the seafood, fruit juice and dairy sectors (these relate to the implementation of US food safety legislation in these industries).
For the general reader, the option entitled overview is particularly useful. Amongst other matters it gives links to the following:
The FDA background paper "HACCP: A State of the Art Approach to Food Safety" - this was referred to earlier in this article with reference to the seven HACCP principles. (The direct URL for this link is http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/bghaccp.html)
A 25-page document entitled "HACCP Principles and Application Guidelines". The US National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods issued this document in August 1997. It describes the basic principles of HACCP and provides detailed guidance for its implementation. These guidelines illustrate in a step-by-step manner how a HACCP plan
Assemble the HACCP team.
Describe the food and its distribution.
Describe the intended use and consumers of the food.
Develop a flow diagram that describes the process.
Verify the flow diagram.
Conduct a hazard analysis (Principle 1).
Determine critical control points (Principle 2).
Establish critical limits (Principle 3).
Establish monitoring procedures (Principle 4).
Establish corrective actions (Principle 5).
Establish verification procedures (Principle 6).
Establish record keeping and documentation procedures (Principle 7).
(The direct URL for this link is http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~comm/nacmcfp.html)
Database of USDA/FDA training programmes and resources
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foodborne Illness Education Information Center administers this site. The site has a description of a database that was created to support the needs of both educators and food businesses. For relevant readers (likely to be USA based) there is an opportunity to submit a description of HACCP-related training programmes.
The resource section of the database allows for keyword searches.
This site has a significant number of links to other HACCP and food safety related sites.
The site also provides a simple route to joining the Foodsafe electronic discussion group which links professionals interested in food safety.
The URL of this site is http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodborne/haccp/index/s.html
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) operated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has an extensive site with respect to HACCP and food safety more generally.
The URL for the programme home page is http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/ppc/haccp/haccp.html
The above URL gives access to the English language site; a parallel site provides the same information in French.
Key elements of the site include:
The full text of an implementation manual. This very substantial document which runs to four volumes has been prepared as an aid to be used by both government officials and those working in the food industry. The manual is intended to be used during the implementation of HACCP rather than the earlier developmental phase. The direct URL is http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/ppc/haccp/manual/home.html
HACCP Curriculum Guidelines. These are intended to assist anyone preparing training courses related to HACCP (or by someone checking the suitability of courses offered). The guidelines are presented in the form of checklists designed to take account of the requirements of different groups of likely participants (executive managers, HACCP co-ordinators, production staff). The direct URL is http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/ppc/haccp/guide-e.html
Access to a databank of generic models prepared for specific sectors of the food industry. Models are provided for 38 product groups that together cover the majority of food businesses. Each generic model works through the stages in the development and implementation of a HACCP plan. The generic models make reference to issues likely to be of importance for the specified food group. However, it must be stressed that these generic models are mere examples; they provide a skeleton from which a food business could develop its own HACCP plan to take account of localised circumstances and hazards. It is not possible to just "lift" one of these generic models and assume that all will be well. For example, the generic model for cooked sliced ham can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.cfia-acia.agr.ca/english/ppc/haccp/ham/home.html
UK Department of Health
The Department of Health has produced a presentation pack which is designed to help environmental health officers to introduce operators of small food businesses to the basic HACCP principles in order that they may comply with the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene Regulations) 1995.
The complete presentation pack can be downloaded from the Internet at the following URL: http://www.doh.gov.uk/foodhaz.htm
The pack contains:
A set of visual aids that can be used as a flip book presentation or converted to acetates (with "aide-mémoire" notes on key points).
Background notes on the implementation of hazard analysis.
Handout containing blank hazard analysis chart and summary.
As the pack is designed for use with small businesses (often in a one-to-one situation) the messages are simplified. The content focuses on basic hygiene principles:
Control of contamination:
by good cleaning and disinfection;
by separation of raw and ready to eat foods;
by good personal hygiene of food handlers.
Temperature control to limit growth.
Stock rotation and control of storage life to limit growth of pathogens.
Heat processing to destroy microbial contaminants:
the concept of control and monitoring of critical hazard points;
the need for staff training and supervision.
Although designed for use by environmental health officers speaking to operators of small food businesses, elements of the presentation pack may also be useful to trainers employed by larger food businesses who wish to brief staff on HACCP principles. However, it must be noted that the pack assumes that the presenter is properly aware of all the issues relating to the matters being covered; it is not intended that the pack be used by anyone who does not have such knowledge.
The Internet also provides a route to information about conferences and other meetings concerned with HACCP and other food safety matters:
The 75th Annual Meeting of the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases (Chicago, November 1995) included a symposium on HACCP. The texts of papers presented at this meeting are available at the following URL: http://www.cvm.uiuc.edu/HACCP/Symposium.title.htm. This site provides links to other food safety related information available on the Internet.
A conference held in Washington DC in June 1998 focused on "The Economics of HACCP: New Studies of Costs and Benefits". Summaries of the papers presented are available via the following URL: http://www.umass.edu/ne165/haccp1998/hccp_1998.html
Use of databases
The European Union (EU), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) each provide search facilities on their Web sites which allow visitors to seek out materials using "HACCP" as a keyword:
The EU database can be reached at the following URL: http://europa. eu.int/geninfo/query_en.htm
Searching this site yields access to a wide range of documents (published in one or more of the Community languages). Many of the documents are not about HACCP per se but rather make significant reference to HACCP. Examples include: Opinion (September 1999) of the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health on "The evaluation of microbiological criteria for food products of animal origin for human consumption".
The direct URL for this document is http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/health/sc/scv/out26_en.pdf
Report from the Commission (January 2000) on "The 2nd series of visits by Commission representatives to the Member States pursuant to Article 5 of Council Directive 93/99/EC with a view to evaluating the national systems for the official control of foodstuffs".
The direct URL for this document is http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/health/afh/afh08_en.pdf:
The FAO database can be reached at the following URL: http://www.fao.org/waicent/seach/default.asp
Searching this site provides access to over 200 items relating to HACCP. These are in a number of languages (chiefly English, Spanish and French) and may be specific to particular regions of the world or to specified food products.
A general paper on HACCP can be found at the following URL: http://www.fao.org/docrep/v9723t/v9723t0e.htm:
The WHO database can be reached at the following URL: http://www.who.org/home/search/
As with the other databases, the selection of documents identified by a search on the keyword "HACCP" yields a range of materials. Some are clearly HACCP-related whilst others are less obvious. My search identified immediately the "HACCP information page" and "Codex HACCP" as worthy of further investigation. I cannot claim to have checked out the other documents identified by the search.
The HACCP information page gives a brief description of HACCP. It also provides a link to "Guidance on Regulatory Assessment of HACCP" - this is the Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Consultation on the Role of Government Agencies in Assessing HACCP. The direct URL for this report is: http://www.who.int/fsf/REP983A.html
The Codex HACCP link gives a fuller description of HACCP including a brief chronology of its adoption within the Codex Alimentarius procedures. The chronological description ends by noting that, in November 2000, The Netherlands will present a discussion paper to Codex on the issues relating to the development of HACCP guidance for small and less developed businesses (SLDBs). The document includes links to a number of Codex documents.
These comments merely reiterate two points already made in this article:
The Internet provides access to literally thousands of items of information on HACCP - this article has presented information on just a few of these Web sites. The selection has, of necessity, been somewhat arbitrary and has focused on sites operated by government bodies and international agencies.
Generic HACCP plans and similar documents are available on the Internet; however, it must be noted that it is almost never possible to apply these generic documents into real world food businesses. Each business is different. No two premises are the same. No business has exactly the same suppliers as a competitor. Each food business will learn much about itself from the process of developing its local HACCP plan for each set of premises and each product. The direct involvement of staff in the preparation of the HACCP plan results in ownership of food safety procedures.
Kevin Kane and Eunice Taylor of the University of Central Lancashire helped to "start the ball rolling" on this article by providing me with a short list of HACCP-related URLs. Preparation of the article began by checking out these URLs and following up links to yield my own selection of materials. Further sites were observed following my own searches. The article that has resulted expresses my personal views and judgements.
If you have identified a Web site likely to be of interest to readers of British Food Journal please contact the author of this series of articles at one of the addresses given below. Acknowledgement will be given to those providing such identification:
By e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
By fax to 01234 766926 or 01582 743237
By post at the University of Luton.
Stephen FallowsUniversity of Luton