EFSA proposed a simplified approach to food safety management in small retail businesses such as bakeries, which can be overwhelmed by applying complex hazard analyses.
The approach includes guidelines on how to identify the most relevant biological, chemical and physical hazards at each stage of the food production process, the activities or practices that make hazards more likely to occur and appropriate control measures.
Applying often complex hazard analyses and critical control point (HACCP) plans can be beyond the capacity of establishments that may employ only a handful of staff, such as small bakeries.
To help overcome this problem, EFSA has developed simple Food Saftety Modernization Standard (FSMS) for five types of small food businesses – a butcher’s shop, a grocery, a bakery, a fishmonger and an ice cream shop – that are easy to understand and implement.
The new approach uses flow diagrams to summarize the stages of production, a questionnaire, and simple tables to take retailers through the food safety management process, from hazard identification to control measures.
Marta Hugas, head of EFSA’s Biological Hazards and Contaminants unit, said: “Some aspects of current food hygiene regulations can be challenging for small businesses, particularly where resources are tight or expertise is lacking. This simpler approach, which the European Commission asked us to develop, would make it easier for such operators to identify hazards and take action to counter them. It’s a practical response to a known problem that could benefit consumers and food businesses alike.”
The streamlined system means, for example, that retailers are not required to have detailed knowledge of specific hazards. They need only to be aware that biological, chemical and physical hazards or allergens may be present and that a failure to undertake key control activities – such as correct chilled storage or separation of raw from cooked products – could increase exposure of consumers to a hazard.