HACCP Basics

What does “H.A.C.C.P.” stand for?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

Operators of food businesses must analyse the processes in their business, identify any possible hazards in those processes, and assess how those hazards con be reduced or eliminated so that the final consumer is not affected. The points at which the hazards are assessed are known as Critical Control Points. Having assessed the hazards and introduced some form of control, they must be monitored regularly and amended as necessary.

What do you need to do?

Identify potential hazards:

  • Assess what possible food hazards there are in your business
  • Identify the areas where they could occur
  • Pinpoint those areas that are critical to ensuring food safety

Introduce controls:

  • Make sure you have adequate safety controls in place at those points critical to ensuring food safety
  • Regularly monitor the controls to check they are working effectively
  • Maintain and review all controls
  • Review your assessment, control and monitoring procedures periodically, and whenever the food operations change

Identify Hazards

You need to identify all hazards, and decide which are critical for food safety. If no major hazards exist, your analysis can simply be based on your own judgement, with no need for specialist skills or complicated techniques. Whichever method you choose, it should be systematic and should take into account:

  • All potential hazards
  • All aspects of your food business operation
  • Your actual working procedures and conditions

You may find it helpful to draw a flow diagram of your operation from purchase of ingredients through to the sale or service of food. Food hazards can then be identified at each step and any necessary controls put in place.

What sort of hazards are there?

There are essentially three categories of food hazard:


  • Could harmful bacteria be present in or on the food?
  • Could foods, particularly ready-to-eat foods, be contaminated?
  • Could harmful bacteria grow to dangerous levels in the food?
  • Could harmful bacteria survive a process, like cooking, meant to destroy them?


  • Could toxic chemicals get into the food? (Cleaning chemicals)


  • Could dangerous glass shards or pests get into the food?

Introduce controls – when consider controls remember:

They must be effective

The controls should either completely eliminate the hazard or reduce it to a safe, acceptable level.

They should be practical

Try to ensure that controls can be applied to your business in a realistic and sensible way. You could change either the nature of the control or the operation.

They should be understood

You should tell appropriate staff about the importance of any controls in place, particularly any for which they are responsible.

The following table shows some, but not all, of the potential steps, hazards, controls, monitoring and corrective action procedures a caterer may need to consider, for example:






Purchase Presence of hazards/ Harmful bacteria Select least hazardous ingredients Inspect supplier Revisit/inspect supplier
Delivery Mould of foreign bodies present in/on food Specify delivery requirements Check delivery vehicles, date, temperature Refuse to accept delivery
Storage Multiplication of bacteria Store at correct temperature / Separate food Check air /food temperature and conditions Adjust temperature / Keep it clean
Preparation Multiplication of food poisoning bacteria Separate high risk food use separate equipment Visual checks / Cleaning schedule Reduce time at ambient / Preview system
Cooking Survival of food poisoning bacteria Adequate cooking / Core temperature at least 75°C Routine temperature checks / Cooking time Raise temperature Repair/replace equipment
Cooling Germination of spores Keep covered, no contact with raw food Check time / temperature Discard food
Service Contamination due poor hygiene Minimise handling Stock rotation Check condition of food Review system

Tasting Procedures

Saliva can contain harmful bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus, which around 40% of healthy adults carry. Great care must be taken when tasting food in order to prevent contamination of the food or utensils.

In order to uphold the food safety standards, the following procedure must be adopted when tasting for quality, texture, or seasoning throughout the kitchens.

Separate utensils must be used for tasting, stirring, and mixing foods. These must be kept near to the preparation area in a clean container or drawer (not in trouser pockets).

A small amount of food must be taken using the tasting spoon / fork and tasted, ensuring that the food cannot fall from the spoon back into the main container of food. If this food is not all consumed and some remains on the spoon, it must not be returned to the pot, but thrown away and the spoon thoroughly cleaned.

If the food requires further seasoning and an additional taste, a new, clean spoon must be used or else the original one must be thoroughly cleaned before retasting the food.

All utensils must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and dried then replaced in the correct container for reuse.

NOTE: Fingers, serving utensils or stirring spoons must never be used for tasting purposes, as saliva can contaminate the food. It is not an acceptable standard for food tasting to be witnessed by customers, therefore tasting must not be carried out in public areas of the business during the hours of trading.

Food Deliveries And Quality Control

All food receiving areas must be kept clean and free from any food, waste, or packaging waste at all times.

The relevant staff must first check deliveries, and records kept of all products arriving at the premises. Any food that does not meet Blue Pudding’s strict standards can be marked with an ultra violet pen and returned to the supplier. All food can now be scanned with the ultra violet light to ensure that it has not been delivered previously and rejected.

Upon approval, deliveries must be taken to the relevant kitchen storage areas or stock rooms as soon as possible in order to minimise any temperature abuse or contamination of the products.

Once at the storage site, all outer packaging must be removed and discarded in the correct area before the food is placed inside. All loose boxes or packages of food from a larger pallet must be clearly labelled with the product name and its expiry date code. Dented cans must not be accepted, but returned to the supplier immediately. All food being transported to units must be adequately covered to protect it from the risk of contamination.

It is essential to ensure that stock rotation and quality checks are made on new deliveries and existing stock.

The following quality checks must be made:

  • Compliance with purchase specification.
  • Quality of goods – grade of product / country of origin.
  • Weight / quantity / volume.
  • Date coding – does it have an adequate shelf life?
  • Signs of damage – pest damage or poor manual handling (dented cans must not be accepted).
  • Temperature – random checks required (see Temperature Control section).
  • Condition of delivery vehicle – cleanliness, refrigerated/frozen, any evidence of cross-contamination.



On occasions, Food safety Advisors may allow certain foods into the building if they exceed these temperatures. They are the only staff permitted to allow this.

Stock Rotation

All stored food should be date coded, especially if the outer packaging is removed and the inner packs are unlabelled. Detailed Product Information labels should be used to clearly mark the USE BY date in a prominent position on packaging beside the product name when storing foods.

New stock must be dated and placed below or behind existing stock, and the stock to be used first must be that with the shortest date code.

First In – First Out

Under no circumstances must out of code stock be stored or used in the kitchen, as it is an illegal offence. If food is delivered out of date and cannot be returned immediately, it must be placed in a part of the store/refrigerator with a clear marking “DO NOT USE”.

Random checks can be made in order to determine the quality of the food, check for signs of pest infestation and that date coding is correct.

Storage shelving must be kept to a minimum of nine inches from the ground in order to facilitate effective cleaning, and stock must never be stored on the floor. Wooden pallets must not be used for storing food on as they absorb liquid spills and the wood can splinter, risking food contamination.

Any substandard goods must not be accepted or used and such faults must be reported to the Head Chef or the Food Safety Advisor along with details of the product and defect.

All stocks must be kept to a minimum by having frequent, small deliveries so that storage areas and containers can be accessed for cleaning regularly.

An area should be set aside in each kitchen or the Storeroom area for any deliveries, which are out of date or damaged stock. Items must be stored there pending any investigation with suppliers or for collection by suppliers. A Food Safety Advisor should be contacted regarding any suspect deliveries.


Any dented cans or products that have damaged packaging must be returned to the supplier. Records of the products and suppliers must be retained by the manager and returned to the storeroom manager for compensation or to a Food Safety Advisor for further investigations into the incident.

Food Storage

Dry Stores

Dry stores must be cool, dry, well ventilated, and free from any pest infestation. They must be kept clean at all times and any spillages must be cleaned up immediately.

Containers with tight fitting lids must be provided for storing any opened bags of dry products, which must be regularly washed and checked for signs of pest infestation. Product date codes must be transferred to these containers for stock rotation.

Blown or badly dented cans must not be used but put aside in a designated area until they can be thrown away or taken to store room to be returned to the supplier.


Units must be placed away from any heat sources or sunlight. Where possible, separate units must be used for raw and cooked products and be clearly labelled for that use.

All food must be stored in a strong container with a tight fitting lid and on a drip tray for raw products or during thawing to prevent cross contamination between products.

All refrigerated units must be operating at between +1 to +8 degrees centigrade (preferably +1 to +5 degrees) and must be checked at least twice daily using an independent, calibrated digital thermometer, which must be disinfected after each use, and measurements recorded.

Any alarmed units must be maintained and acted upon accordingly if the alarm sounds. The alarm must never be disconnected for any reason. If temperatures are suspect, a Food Safety Advisor or Senior Chef must be called and /or a probe thermometer must be used to determine the air, core and surface temperature of the food.

All food must be clearly labelled and date marked, especially if it is to be used in another outlet.

Hot food must never be placed into a refrigerator but allowed to cool rapidly and then refrigerated within one and a half hours of cooking.

Refrigerator doors must be opened as little as possible and never propped open. Damage to units must be reported to the Head Chef as soon as it occurs, so that they can report the defect to an Engineer.

Stock control must be diligently controlled in order to use products before they expire, and also to ensure the products’ safety for the consumer.

All units must be defrosted regularly, at which time thorough cleaning and disinfecting must take place. Spillage’s must be cleaned up as they occur and not allowed to pool or drip, as this can lead to cross contamination.


Units must be located as per refrigerators. All food products must be stored completely wrapped in lidded containers in order to prevent cross contamination and ‘freezer burn’ (when the product dries out). They must also be clearly labelled with the product and the date code clearly visible. A freeze date label must also be added in order to help quality assurance and stock control and a new ‘use by’ date must be added upon thawing.

Once defrosted, foods must be used within 24 hours and never refrozen unless they have been cooked to achieve a core temperature of +75°C.

It is advisable to take twice daily temperature checks and keep record due diligence. Hot food must never be put into a freezer, but rapidly cooled within one and a half hours of cooking, before being placed in a suitable container, labelled and then frozen.

The door must be opened as little as possible and stock checked for quality and date coding every week. Units must be defrosted at least quarterly, at which time thorough cleaning and disinfecting must be carried out.

Alarms, where fitted, must not be disconnected and must be maintained and acted upon accordingly.




Mechanical / Equipment Breakdowns

It is the managers’ responsibility to report all faults and mechanical breakdowns to the relevant department or people

If refrigerators or freezers break down, the Head Chef or a Food Safety Advisor must be informed as soon as the fault is discovered and the temperatures must be taken using a probe thermometer.

If temperatures have risen significantly, the following procedure must be adopted:


Discard or Defrost entirely and cook immediately. This can then be used or refrozen.


Must be used immediately or discarded.


Use immediately or discard.

If large quantities of food must be discarded due to equipment failure, the Environmental Health Department can be contacted in order to remove the food and issue a ‘surrender’ document as proof of safe disposal (used for insurance purposes).

Any damaged or potentially dangerous equipment must be rendered out of action and all staff must be made aware that it is not to be used. Suitable, clear signs must be posted to show that it must not be used under any circumstances.


All food products are open to cross contamination by physical, chemical, or microbiological means during any stage of the storage, preparation, cooking and service processes.

Every care must be taken to ensure that food does not become exposed to the risk of cross contamination during these processes.


All types of food must be stored separately wherever possible. They must be wrapped or covered at all times, with raw food being stored below high-risk food in refrigerators.

All food must be clearly labelled with the product and its colour coded date sticker.

The storage areas must be regularly disinfected, especially after spillage’s, to avoid any risk of cross contamination. They must not be overstocked, and containers or wrappers must not block the fans, coolers, or airflows.

Refrigerators may be used for both raw and cooked products only if they are physically separated and well covered. If various food types are to be stored in the same refrigerator, they must be loaded in the following way:

Top shelf – Dairy / cream products
2nd shelf – Cooked meats
3rd shelf – Vegetables / salad items
Bottom shelf – Raw meats / fish


Raw and cooked foods must be prepared in separate areas using the correct colour coded chopping boards where applicable.

All work surfaces, chopping boards, knives, and utensils must be disinfected after each use especially when changing from handling raw products to cooked ones. (Correct colour coded chopping boards must be used at all times).

Slicing and mixing machines must be thoroughly dismantled and disinfected between use for raw and cooked products.

Wiping cloths must be disinfected regularly and kept in like areas e.g. cloths used in raw meat preparation areas must not be used in pastry or cooked meat preparation areas.

Hand washing must be strictly adhered to and liquid bactericidal soap must always be used. Disposable gloves must be used and changed frequently, as per the glove policy.

Utensils must be used to handle food where possible, especially food which will receive no further cooking.

Food deliveries to restaurants must always be done using the correct method of transportation.

All food deliveries must be securely covered and transported in sealed trolleys and must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use. Raw and cooked food must never be delivered on the same trolley unless they are well wrapped and physically separated.

Refuse must never be transported in the same trolley that is used for food, even if the food is wrapped or sealed.

All chefs and porters must use one-piece pens only, to avoid the risk of pen tops falling into the food or containers.

To further reduce the risk of physical contamination, if any glass, crockery, or containers are broken, the glass breakage procedure must be adopted and details filled out on the “Breakage Report” form (see Appendix).

If a customer makes a complaint or finds a foreign object in their food, please follow the Customer Complaint Procedure and complete a Customer Complaint Form (see Appendix). A Food Safety Advisor can be informed so that this can receive prompt attention.

All mechanical equipment must be checked and serviced by an Engineer on a regular basis and any worn or damaged parts must be replaced as soon as the damage occurs. Conveyor belts are to be cleaned and frayed edges trimmed by the chefs on a regular basis.

Breakage’s / Glass Policy

No glass, china, or brittle plastic containers are to be stored or used within kitchen or restaurant areas unless they are to be used for immediate service.

Ingredients in glass or brittle plastic containers should be decanted where possible, but if not practicable, they should be stored on the bottom shelves of storerooms.

Any glass or crockery that is broken must be reported using a “Breakage Report” form (see Appendix), which is to be returned to the a Food Safety Advisor for further investigation.

In order to obviate the risk of fragments entering food, the following procedure must be adopted:

Inform Head or Sous Chef immediately if breakages occur, and a Food Safety Advisor if necessary.

Stop all food preparation in the immediate vicinity at once, until the manager has given the instruction to recommence work.

All fragments must be cleared away wearing gloves and using a dustpan and brush. The fragments must then be discarded safely in a waste bin situated away from food preparation areas to prevent possible further contamination.

A thorough search must immediately be made to ensure that all pieces are found and disposed of. If time permits, piece together the broken item to see if any pieces are missing.

All food products that have been near to the breakage site or are known to be contaminated must always be discarded. Even if food is only suspected of being contaminated, it must be discarded.

All work surfaces must be wiped down and disinfected prior to recommencing work.

It is essential that thorough details be taken if a customer finds a fragment of glass or a foreign body in their food. Inform a Food Safety Advisor immediately and save any food and fragments for inspection. If an injury is suspected or reported, a First Aider must be called to assess the injury and record it accurately.

Thawing And Handling Frozen Food

Frozen food must always be defrosted in an area separate from other food and preparation areas.

If meat cannot be thawed at approximately 5 °C (in a refrigerator), it must be thawed in a lidded container, ensuring that none of the thawed liquid can contaminate other food or preparation areas.

All thawed products must be refrigerated and cooked as soon as possible the same day. Frozen food must never be refrozen once thawed unless cooking has taken place.

Artificial means of defrosting must never be used, and the containers used for defrosting must be thoroughly disinfected after use.

Food must be free from ice crystals and joints of birds’ limbs must be thoroughly flexible when defrosted. To be very sure, a disinfected probe thermometer must be inserted into the thickest part of the food and temperatures must read between 0 and +5°C.

Frozen or part-frozen food must never be cooked in that state.

Frozen Poultry Guidelines

Ensure that enough time is allowed for thorough thawing.

Place poultry into a lidded, drip-proof container away from any other food preparation areas and in a high-risk food storage area.

When defrosted, dispose of thawed liquid carefully and sterilise the container thoroughly after use.

Once the legs are flexible and the cavity free from ice crystals, a sterilised probe thermometer must be used to check that the centre of the bird has reached between 0 and +5°C.

Once thawed, the poultry must be refrigerated and used within twelve hours.

Products must never be defrosted in a sink with warm water.


High Risk Foods

“High risk” foods are those that support the growth of bacteria and are therefore at risk of contamination. Special attention must be paid to handling practices, temperature control, and the avoidance of cross-contamination.

Probe thermometers must be used to ensure that cooked food reaches at least 75 °C at the centre of the product during the cooking process.

The food must then be served immediately, kept hot at a temperature above 63 degrees, or rapidly cooled and placed into a refrigerator below 8 °C within 1.5 hours of cooking.

Food being cooled must be covered to reduce the risk of cross-contamination during cooling.

When reheating foods, especially sauces and stews, the food must be stirred frequently to ensure even heating of the product to 82°C. These products must only be reheated once and the remainder discarded.

Control of cross-contamination must be carefully controlled when preparing sandwiches; strict temperature control must also be monitored throughout the process, especially when used for packed lunches when the food is consumed much later.

All salad items must be thoroughly washed and visually checked to ensure that there are no foreign bodies present in them. Fillings must be applied using utensils wherever possible to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.

Only food and salad items to be used immediately must be in the preparation area, the remainder being kept under refrigerated storage in proper, lidded containers.

Once made, sandwiches must be covered, labelled, dated, and then stored under refrigeration at below +8 degrees centigrade until service.

Microbiological Quality

Fresh foods should be sent on a random basis for microbiological testing and must be handled in such a manner as to ensure microbiological safety.

This is achieved by means of the following precautions:

  • Ensuring correct cooking times for all cooked products.
  • Ensuring correct cooking temperatures for all cooked products.
  • Ensuring minimal post process handling. (Using utensils / tongs).
  • Ensuring correct chilled temperatures.
  • Ensuring correct transportation.
  • Ensuring correct sanitation of all cooking areas and equipment.
  • Ensuring correct personal hygiene.

The Use Of Shell Eggs

Salmonella contamination of shell eggs has become a major food safety hazard.

To minimise the risk of salmonella food poisoning from uncooked dishes, the following precautions must be taken:

  • Deliveries of shell eggs must be checked and any cracked eggs discarded.
  • Shell eggs must be stored in the original egg boxes under chilled storage.
  • Shell eggs must be stored on the lowest shelves of the chill room.
  • Shell eggs must be stored in a separate chill room from the products.
  • Shell eggs must be strictly segregated from the preparation of uncooked dishes.
  • Hands must be washed after handling shell eggs.
  • Shell eggs can only be used for products to be cooked.
  • Pasteurised liquid egg must be used for all products, which will not be cooked or heated.
  • Shell egg and pasteurised eggs must not be stored in the same refrigerator.
  • Shell eggs must never be used in cocktails or other beverages.

The Use Of Scombroid Fish

Scombrotoxic poisoning is related to a substance, histamine, which builds up on the flesh of scombroid fish (Tuna, Mackerel, Sprats and Whitebait) due to the action of spoilage bacteria when the fish is stored above 4°C.

To avoid scombrotoxic food poisoning from these fish and in order to be able to identify the supplier concerned, the following precautions must be taken:

Fresh tuna must be obtained from a reputable supplier that takes all necessary precautions to ensure the maintenance of the cold distribution chain from sea to store.

The fish must be kept below 4°C at all times during preparation, storage, and transportation.

On delivery to the kitchen, the tuna steaks must be labelled with date of receipt and supplier details.

The details must be transferred from the label on opening the vacuum pack up to the point of serving to the customer.

The details of the tuna served to customers must be kept for one month.

Temperature Control

Food must not be allowed to remain at ambient temperature for any length of time but must be stored under refrigeration below 8 °C or in heated units above 63 °C.

All food must be thoroughly thawed before it is cooked.

Joints must have a core temperature of at least 72 °C that must be checked with a disinfected probe thermometer for each joint.

Unless it is to be carved immediately, it must be allowed to cool down within 1.5 hours and be stored under refrigeration and used within 24 hours or else stored in a hot cabinet above 63 o C.

Hot food must never be allowed to cool in a room where raw foods are stored or prepared due to the risk of cross contamination.

Temperature Monitoring

Diligence Data Loggers should be installed in all refrigerators and freezers, which monitor the internal temperatures every 30 minutes.

A Building Maintenance System (BMS) can also be installed by Engineers, linking the refrigerators and freezers to a main computer, which monitors the temperatures every 15 minutes and is manually checked every two hours. These are recorded and kept on file.

Temperature Logs

Temperature control logs issued should always be completed by the chefs and then signed at the end of each period as part of our Due Diligence recording system. An example of which can be found in the appendices.

Any food that does not reach 75 °C when cooked or 82 °C when reheated must undergo further heating until it does. All food in hot cabinets must be kept above 63 °C throughout service and any food that falls below this temperature must be reheated to above 82 °C (only once).

Probe Thermometers

All food must be checked using a calibrated probe thermometer. To minimise the risk of cross contamination, the probe must be disinfected between each product. This can be carried out by using a disinfectant probe wipe or else by spraying the relevant chemical onto a piece of clean disposable towel and wiping the probe. New wipes must be used each time the probe is used. Managers are responsible for maintaining the thermometers and replacing them as necessary.

Fire Procedure

If you discover a fire act according to the fire procedure.

In the event of a fire, which has been extinguished, all food that has been exposed to water, foam, fire blankets, fire and smoke must be discarded and the area thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Personnel must be aware that they will not be allowed to re-enter the building until told to do so by the Senior Fire Officer.

Sprinkler systems installed throughout the building will automatically operate once predetermined temperature is reached within the vicinity of the fire. The water contained within the sprinkler system will be dirty, therefore contamination of all work surfaces and food is likely to take place. It is the responsibility of the Head Chefs and Food Safety Advisors as to what food is discarded and the extent of remedial cleaning to take place.

Fitted beneath the canopies over hot cooking ranges are foam spray systems, which are used to suppress and extinguish fat/oil-based fires. The foam is delivered at high pressure and is of an acidic nature. It would be anticipated that production within the kitchen would be severely disrupted if the system was to actuate and also while the discharged foam was being removed.

If a member of staff is found to have tampered with any fire safety equipment then disciplinary action will be taken which could lead to dismissal.