Guidance for Larger Food Businesses | Food Safety

For larger businesses, even those who already have robust food safety systems, this knowledge hub is ideal to acquaint your employees across various departments with food safety. The resources on food safety culture are a valuable management tool as its impact on operations is being more and more recognised. Guidance documents are also included to serve as best practice, wherever in the world your business operates.

This section highlights: culture, management responsibility, and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

i. Culture:

A strong safety culture is a prerequisite, particularly where the safety of employees and customers is dependent upon it. Food safety culture is still a relatively new concept in the food industry but has been gaining traction as its impact on the success of food safety management systems, procedures and practices has become clearer. It is increasingly cited in reports and papers related to food safety incidents and outbreaks and is also being identified as a significant emerging risk factor in food quality and food fraud.

IFST article on an analysis of critical points that influence organisational safety cultures

IFST article on insight into its evolution and adoption into food safety management systems, solutions and standards

IFST article on the emergence of a food safety culture: Principles and review of current initiatives to strengthen its impact on food safety performance

IFST webinar- Food safety: Is it in the mind?

ii. Management responsibility includes document control, SOPs, audit scheduling (internal & external), ensuring traceability, tracking and resolving customer complaints and non-conformances, and product recall.

IFST Food Safety Best Practice Governance Guide for Directors

IFST Good Manufacturing Practice Guide [£]

FSA food safety management procedures and food hygiene regulations (Safe food better business initiative)

FSA food safety model documents for HACCP-based record keeping

Global Food Safety Resource (GFSR) on Food Safety Audits

iii. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

HACCP is a food safety management system that aims to address hazards in food manufacturing systematically rather than exclusively through finished product testing.

FSA Overview on HACCP


FSA general requirements for prerequisites

A Prerequisite Programme (PRP) is the foundation for HACCP and food safety within a facility to minimise hazards and their associated risks. Without one, there would be more Critical Control Points (CCPs) than possible to effectively manage, which in turn can reduce the efficacy of the entire system. This section considers premises, people, cleaning, equipment, process control, procurement and product information for users.

Considerations include:

i. Premises - site location, layout and design, materials, structure and condition, temperature control, utilities (air, water, energy), warehousing, preventative maintenance, hygienic design, pest control (rodents, birds, insects)

IFST and HOLCHEM’s hygienic design of food manufacturing premises

EHEDG guidelines [£] Guideline 44 outlines hygienic design principles for food factories. Guideline 47 covers ventilation.

EHEDG guideline 8 on hygienic design

Ministry for Primary Industries (Govt. of New Zealand) good operating practices for building facilities, site layout and design.

ii. People - training, personnel hygiene/return to work and employee facilities

IFST article on training in food safety culture

IFST Information Statement on HIV aids and the food handler

Campden BRI’s white paper on personal hygiene

iii. Cleaning - contract services (cleaning, laundry), waste control, glass and plastic management, cleaning and disinfection, inspection and maintenance, contamination control

IFST and SOFHT Technical fact sheet on cleaning and disinfection

IFST Information Statement on food waste

iv. Equipment - suitability, calibration, preventative maintenance, hygienic design

v. Process control - measures to prevent the presence, introduction, growth and survival of pathogens, prevent cross-contamination, controlled rework

IFST factsheet on hand hygiene

vi. Procurement - supplier control (ingredients, packaging, services and equipment), incoming material/equipment specifications, distribution

IFST Food Science Fact Sheet on Food and Drink packaging

IFST Webinar on preventing food fraud

HSE Guide to the law and your responsibilities when buying new machinery for use at work

vii. Product information for users - date coding, labelling

A food hazard is something that could make food unsafe or unfit to eat. It’s important to identify those stages in your business when hazards could be present so they can be removed or reduced to safe levels (FSA, 2017). This section highlights the following types of hazards: allergenic, physical, radiological, chemical, microbiological, and hazard analysis.

i. Allergenic hazards

The identification, control and communication regarding food allergens has always been a critical issue throughout the food supply chain.

IFST Food Allergens Knowledge Hub. Since the subject of allergens, and the implications for food businesses, has been brought into even sharper focus, IFST has a dedicated knowledge hub for food allergens.

IFST Information Statement on allergen analysis 

ii. Physical hazards

These may include glass, hair, metal (machinery fragments, swarf, nuts, screws and bolts), plastic fragments, jewellery, filth (including grass, insect and plant fragments), fingernails, building materials (wall plaster, concrete, flakes of paint), packaging (staples, string, polythene, and cardboard), insects, rodent and other droppings, birds and bird fragments, bone, microplastics and nano plastics.

IFST Information Statement on Microplastics

IFST Information Statement on Physical Analysis

Nestle Preventing physical hazards best supplier practice 

GFSR Advanced detection of physical hazards

iii. Radiological hazards

IFST Information Statement on food irradiation

iv. Chemical Hazards

These may include:

Chemical residues such as pesticides, veterinary medicines, biocides:

IFST Information Statement on Biocides

Natural contaminants like marine biotoxins (e.g. shellfish toxins), mycotoxins, glycosides, plant-based toxins (e.g. pyrrolizidine alkaloids). There is a distinction between natural toxins from those inherently present in the plant intended to be eaten vs. those present in cross-contaminating weeds as the risk management controls are different:

IFST Information Statement on Mycotoxins

Environmental contaminants like heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs):

IFST Information Statement on Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in food and feed

Process contaminants such as acrylamide, glycidyl esters, monochloropropanediol (MCPD), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), ethyl carbamate, furan, cleaning products and disinfectants, pest-control contaminants, ethylene oxide:

IFST Information Statement on Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

IFST Information Statement on Acrylamide

IFST Information Statement on MCPD

Those from materials of construction e.g methacrylate from flooring compounds (could taint food):

  • EHEDG Guidelines [£] Refer to guideline 32 for materials of construction for equipment in contact with food.

IFST Webinar Diving Deeper into Due Diligence: Food Contact Materials

Bacterial toxins - botulinum, staphylococcal, tetrodotoxins, bacillus cereus:

Printing inks, mineral oils, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), BPA as a result of packaging migration:

IFST Information Statement on BPA Migration

Food additives:

Contaminants – radionuclides, histamine, brominated flame retardants (no maximum residue limits (MRL) in law:

v. Microbiological Hazards

IFST Information Statement on Foodborne campylobacteriosis

IFST Information Statement on E. coli (STEC) Food Poisoning and its Prevention

IFST Information Statement on foodborne viral infections

IFST Handbook on Microbiological Criteria [£]

Campden BRI resources on foodborne viruses

vi. Analysis

IFST Information Statement Microbiological analysis- key considerations

European Commission EC 2073/2005 on Microbiological Criteria for foodstuffs

PHE Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods Placed on the Market


IFST resource

Recommended reading for a quick overview

[£]  Paid for resource