Guidance for Small and Medium Food Enterprises | Food Safety

We understand that making food safe within food businesses is challenging. This knowledge hub provides the help and guidance you need by identifying good practices that can be easily implemented and understood with minimal training.

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

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

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

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

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

    GFSI Inculcating a Food Safety Culture: Management advice

    ii. Management responsibility

    This includes document control, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), audit scheduling (internal and external), ensuring traceability, tracking and resolving customer complaints, non-conformances and product recall.

    IFST Good Manufacturing Practice Guide [£]

    FSA food safety model documents for HACCP based record keeping

    Ministry for Primary Industries (Govt. of NZ) guidance documents on Good Operating Practices for traceability, customer complaints, non-conformances, product recalls etc.

    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 MyHACCP tool

    FSA general requirements for prerequisites

    FDA Comprehensive guidance to implementing a HACCP system including the 7 key steps

    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

    FSS guide on preventive maintenance. Although the Meat Industry guide has been withdrawn in England, this resource still provides a useful checklist.

    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

    IFST factsheet on hand hygiene

    FSA business guidance 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

    Campden BRI short video guide on cleaning factories

    SALSA tools and tips for various SOPs including glass and brittle breakages

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

    EHEDG Guideline 8: Hygienic design principles

    Campden BRI video on hygienic design of equipment

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

    IFST factsheet on hand hygiene

    CFA food safety considerations for developing and producing chilled foods

    Campden BRI resources on working shelf life

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

    IFST Food Science Fact Sheet on Food and Drink packaging

    SALSA auditing standard interpretation guide

    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 have 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 Food Science Fact Sheet on Food Allergy

    IFST Information Statement on allergen analysis

    FSA allergen guidance for food businesses

    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

    Food Safety Canada Common physical hazards and their prevention for food processors and distributors

    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, and 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:

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

    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

    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.

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

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

    vi. Analysis

    IFST Information Statement Microbiological analysis- key considerations

    CFA Microbiological testing and interpretation


    IFST resource

    Recommended reading for a quick overview

    [£]  Paid for resource