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Performance assessment of open-access information about food safety

Juan García-Díez, Dina Moura, Maria Manuel Nascimento, Cristina Saraiva
Journal für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit 2018 v.13 no.2 pp. 113-124
European Union, HACCP, compliance, critical control points, food industry, food law, foods, guidelines, hazard identification, information sources, public health, regression analysis
Hazard Analysis Control Critical Points (HACCP) is compulsory for all food business operators (FBO) in European Union, in order to guarantee food safety. Since small- and medium-sized FBO had less resources than large-sized FBO, the HACCP implementation is usually carried out by the owner or staff, mainly using online information from guidelines of national agencies responsible for food safety inspection and/or from guidelines published by associations of FBO. A specific checklist was developed to assess the information provided in 80 open access food safety manuals about HACCP and prerequisite programs. Performance of information was also assessed by Chi-squared test and logistic regression models. The overall information about food safety available on the manuals was considered as not satisfactory. Thus, the lack of information could compromise the compliance of food law. Although specific information about HACCP was considered as acceptable, the manuals do not explain how to carry out several steps such as foodstuff characterization, proper hazard identification or correct determination of critical control points. Information provided about prerequisite programs was not satisfactory mainly associated to (1) the lack of information about how to put each prerequisite in place and (2) the lack of information about the documents and records that each prerequisite should content. The results of this work indicate that FBO need to consult several and update manuals, as well other sources of information (i.e. expert consultation) to correctly implement a food safety program based on the HACCP methodology and guarantee the public health.