Today, to achieve food safety, it is recognized that there is a need to apply measures of increased specificity (Figure 3-1). At a more general level, the CAC outlines the general principles of food hygiene. These principles lay the foundation for food hygiene. Second, more product-specific hygienic measures may be applied to focus better on issues that are relevant to specific commodities. These measures, also prescribed by the CAC, are described in specific codes of manufacturing or hygienic practices. The CAC has developed codes for a number of products, such as smoked or salted fish, cured ham, and so forth. Finally, application of the HACCP system can further enhance food safety by providing a mechanism for analyzing the hazards for each food or process, developing a tailor-made plan for ensuring food safety with emphasis on CCPs, and ensuring that the critical limits at these points are met. With each layer of the above measures, the degree of assurance of food safety increases.4
To harmonize and promote the application of the HACCP system in food industries, the CAC outlined the principles and elaborated the guidelines for the application of the system. The principles of the HACCP system, as defined by the CAC, set the basis for the minimum requirements for mandatory application of the HACCP system. The guidelines are, on the other hand, a general guidance, and adherence to them is voluntary. The CAC text on the HACCP Principles and Guidelines for its Application are presently annexed to the CAC General Principles of Food Hygiene, and their application is consequently recommended. However, due to the status of the CAC in international trade in food, the application of the HACCP system to the production, processing, or manufacturing of food may in some countries become compulsory for food export. The reason is that since the conclusion of the GATT Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations in April 1994 and the coming into force of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the work of CAC is recognized as the reference or "yardstick" for national food safety requirements. As a result, members of the WTO need to take the work of CAC into consideration
and adapt their legislation to the provisions provided by CAC. In recent years, some countries such as the United States and the European Union have made application of the HACCP system compulsory in the production and processing of certain foodstuffs such as seafood, including those that are imported.
The implementation of the HACCP system in all food industries is an established goal in many countries. However, most progress made in implementing the HACCP system so far has been achieved in medium- and large-scale food industries, particularly in industrialized countries. Worldwide, analyses of food-borne disease outbreaks show that the greatest majority of food-borne disease outbreaks result from malpractices during food preparation in small businesses, canteens, and homes. In small businesses and homes in both developed and developing countries, the application of the HACCP system meets with greater difficulties.
In recognition of the need for improving the safety of foods that are prepared or processed in homes, food service establishments, street food vendors, and "cottage" industries, WHO proposed the use of HACCP systems to small operations and for health education purposes.1,710
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