Auto-controls are mandatory if you are an employee or employer in the food industry. On the one hand, implemented and documented controls provide proof that you handle food carefully. On the other, they are a useful tool for you to optimise in-house procedures and cost of materials.
More information on carrying out auto-controls is provided here.
To ensure that you receive raw materials in perfect and hygienic condition, you should carry out and document an incoming goods control. An inspection can be documented using an incoming goods log or an incoming goods stamp on the invoice or delivery note.
You should check the delivered or purchased goods for the following points:
NB: If you find that any of the above points are not met on delivery of the goods, you should take corrective actions and document them accordingly. For example you can reject deliveries of food that does not meet the requirements!
Frozen / chilled food must be stored at the corresponding temperatures. Temperatures should be checked and documented on a daily basis. Temperatures should always be measured in the top shelves of the refrigeration facilities.
The following controls should be carried out each day:
Refrigeration recommendations rather than requirements are given for the storage of certain types of fruit and vegetable. Fruit and vegetables continue to "breathe" after they have been picked. In the end, these metabolic processes lead to decay. Their shelf life can be increased by storing them in refrigeration facilities.
It is necessary to control and document the heating temperatures and duration of heating with sensitive product groups, such as meat, eggs or fish.
With respect to the preparation of sensitive products, there are no legal requirements governing temperature and times for heating such products. As germs are present on raw foodstuffs, and these may be pathogenic, it is recommended that you always thoroughly heat through such food. Germs are killed at specific temperatures that are maintained for a set length of time. For shorter times and/or at lower temperatures, you run the risk of not killing all the germs.
It is recommended that meat, poultry, game and products made from these meats are heated for:
With raw egg and raw egg products, it is recommended that they are cooked for 5 minutes.
A corresponding checklist template can be downloaded here.
Do not use deep-frying fat for too long, as it can deteriorate. There is also an increased risk of the fat catching alight if it is used for too long. Observe the following principles and inspect your deep-fat fryer daily (when you use it) to check the following points:
Pests, such as mice, rats and insects, can pass germs or dirt onto food, equipment and surfaces.
It is therefore important to take the following preventive measures:
The cleanliness of the rooms, equipment and devices can significantly affect the food safety and quality of your products. It is therefore important that you correctly clean and disinfect them on a regular basis. Prepare a cleaning and disinfecting plan covering all the rooms and objects in your business. The frequency with which they are to be cleaned and disinfected depends on the requirements specific to your individual business. Recommended frequencies for cleaning and disinfecting individual rooms and objects are suggested in the section on Cleaning and disinfecting.
A subsequent control must then be carried out to check on the results of the cleaning, so that any shortcomings can be addressed.
The cleaning and disinfecting activities, as well as the subsequent control of these activities, should then be documented in a cleaning and disinfecting log.
The statutory basis for carrying out auto-controls is Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs. The aim is to achieve a high level of consumer protection by ensuring a high level of food safety.
A further applicable base regulation is Regulation 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Furthermore, Regulation (EC) 853/2004 lays down specific hygiene rules for the hygiene of foodstuffs of animal origin.
Risks that may endanger human health are to be excluded and/or controlled or reduced to an acceptable level. The solution for ensuring this is to set up and implement an HACCP concept. HACCP stands for "Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point" (or "Gefahrenanalyse und Kritischer Kontrollpunkt" in German).
In 1963, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) established the Codex Alimentarius (Latin for 'food code'), which for the first time adopted an HACCP concept for the food sector as an instrument for identifying, assessing and managing hazards that endanger human health.
Regulation (EC) 852/2004 develops this idea within the scope of food safety, requiring food businesses and food business operators to "(...) put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the HACCP principles." (Chap. 2, Art. 5(1))
HACCP principles form the basis for establishing an HACCP concept. There are a total of seven principles:
|Regulation (EC) 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, Chapter II, Art. 5(2)|
|(2) The HACCP principles referred to in paragraph 1 consist of the following:
|a)||identifying any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels;|
|b)||identifying the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels;|
|c)||establishing critical limits at critical control points which separate acceptability from unacceptability for the prevention, elimination or reduction of identified hazards;|
|d)||establishing and implementing effective monitoring procedures at critical control points;|
|e)||establishing corrective actions when monitoring indicates that a critical control point is not under control;|
|f)||establishing procedures, which shall be carried out regularly, to verify that the measures
outlined in subparagraphs (a) to (e) are working effectively; and
|g)||establishing documents and records commensurate with the nature and size of the food business to demonstrate the effective application of the measures outlined in subparagraphs (a) to (f).|
|When any modification is made in the product, process, or any step, food business operators shall review the procedure and make the necessary changes to it.|
The Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission has produced a guidance document on the implementation of procedures under this Regulation. This guidance document is intended to make it easier for smaller businesses in particular to implement HACCP principles.
To carry out an analysis in accordance with an HACCP concept, it is important to identify all possible types of hazard. Hazards are understood to be risks that could have a negative impact on food and endanger human health.
Hazards may be biological, chemical or physical in origin.
Here are a few examples:
|Class of hazard||Example|
|Biological||Bacteria, viruses, parasites, moulds, fish toxins|
|Chemical||Detergents, disinfectants, remains of unsuitable packaging materials|
|Physical||Jewellery, glass fragments, bone fragments, ultraviolet radiation, wood|
These classes of hazard pose a potential risk for food safety and therefore for human health. As a result, it is important that you work to prevent all possible hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level.
When assessing hazards, a distinction is made between the following categories:
Nevertheless, some work steps still have to be controlled and documented. These include the documentation of cleaning and disinfecting activities. It is not possible to detect with the naked eye whether residues of detergents or disinfectants have been left behind. So the risk of "residues from detergents / disinfectants" cannot be controlled for you. But you are still obliged to control and document whether cleaning and disinfecting activities have taken place as planned.
Hazards can occur at different places, depending on the class of hazard, in other words whether it is biological, chemical or physical in nature. You will find below examples of where and how hazards could occur in everyday business, and how you can prevent the hazards or reduce them to an acceptable level.
To be able to identify hazards in specific production steps, start by drawing up a flow chart for all in-house processes.
Now think about hazards and the points at which they may occur.
If there is no control point for the identified hazard, or if it is a CP/CCP hazard, you can initially classify it under the definition "no control point". To help with further decisions as to whether the remaining points are CP or CCP hazards, you can use a decision tree.
Now incorporate the identified hazards classified as CP or CCP hazards in your flow chart. Include control measures for the respective CP/CCP hazards and the respective corrective action. The monitoring and measuring for all CPs and CCPs must be carried out and documented every day or on implementation, depending on the process step.
CCP hazards must be documented, as must CP hazards. In addition, you are required to set corrective actions in documented form for a CCP hazard. Your critical limits must also be checked on a regular basis. This involves a lot of documenting work. Use a decision tree to ascertain whether the identified potential hazard for the process step is a CCP or CP hazard.