|© Su Kahumbu|
When planning to add value to food produced on the farm it is important to think of public health issues. A good business plan will aim to make the customers happy by producing clean, healthy, good tasting food attractively packed and labelled. In order to achieve this it is important to organise for good hygiene and a planned production aimed at a specific market, so that market requirements can be upheld easily. There are international standards that apply, and that it would be wise to be familiar with called codex alimentarius. In general speech that just means "general principles for good food hygiene". It is also possible and indeed recommended to get the premises certified to be following the HACCP system. HACCP is short for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. Several companies in Kenya can assist with the internationally recognized HACCP certification, and if export is planned this is mandatory. Certification cost money, but a HACCP certification is a very good marketing tool. Customers are increasingly concerned about health issues.
Recommended international code of practice general principles of food hygiene
Primary production should be managed in a way that ensures that food is safe and suitable for its intended use. Where necessary, this will include:
- avoiding the use of areas where the environment poses a threat to the safety of food;
- controlling contaminants, pests and diseases of animals and plants in such a way as not to pose a threat to food safety;
- adopting practices and measures to ensure food is produced under appropriately hygienic conditions.
Cleaning, Maintenance and Personnel Hygiene at Primary Production
Establishment: Design and Facilities
Depending on the nature of the operations, and the risks associated with them, premises, equipment and facilities should be located, designed and constructed to ensure that:
- contamination is minimized;
- design and layout permit appropriate maintenance, cleaning and disinfections and minimize air-borne contamination;
- surfaces and materials, in particular those in contact with food, are non-toxic in intended use and, where necessary, suitably durable, and easy to maintain and clean;
- where appropriate, suitable facilities are available for temperature, humidity and other controls; and
- there is effective protection against pest access and harbourage.
Equipment should be located so that it:
- 1. Permits adequate maintenance and cleaning;
- 2. Functions in accordance with its intended use; and
- 3. Facilitates good hygiene practices, including monitoring.
Design and layout
Internal structures and fittings
Temporary/mobile premises and vending machines
Food control and monitoring equipment
Containers for waste and inedible substances
Drainage and waste disposal
Personnel hygiene facilities and toilets
Air quality and ventilation
Control of Operation
To produce food which is safe and suitable for human consumption by:
- formulating design requirements with respect to raw materials, composition, processing, distribution, and consumer use to be met in the manufacture and handling of specific food items; and
- designing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing effective control systems.
Food business operators should control food hazards through the use of systems such as The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control (HACCP) Point System.They should:
- identify any steps in their operations which are critical to the safety of food;
- implement effective control procedures at those steps;
- monitor control procedures to ensure their continuing effectiveness; and
- review control procedures periodically, and whenever the operations change.
Time and temperature control.
Inadequate food temperature control is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness or food spoilage. Such controls include time and temperature of cooking, cooling, processing and storage. Systems should be in place to ensure that temperature is controlled effectively where it is critical to the safety and suitability of food.Temperature control systems should take into account:
- the nature of the food, e.g. its water activity, pH, and likely initial level and types of microorganisms;
- the intended shelf-life of the product;
- the method of packaging and processing; and
- how the product is intended to be used, e.g. further cooking/processing or ready-to-eat.
Such systems should also specify tolerable limits for time and temperature variations. Temperature recording devices should be checked at regular intervals and tested for accuracy.
Specific process steps
Other steps which contribute to food hygiene may include, for example:
- thermal processing
- chemical preservation
- vacuum or modified atmospheric packaging
Microbiological and other specifications
Management systems described thus far offer an effective way of ensuring the safety and suitability of food. Where microbiological, chemical or physical specifications are used in any food control system, such specifications should be based on sound scientific principles and state, where appropriate, monitoring procedures, analytical methods and action limits.
Physical and chemical contamination
Systems should be in place to prevent contamination of foods by foreign bodies such as glass or metal shards from machinery, dust, harmful fumes and unwanted chemicals. In manufacturing and processing, suitable detection or screening devices should be used where necessary.
Packaging design and materials should provide adequate protection for products to minimize contamination, prevent damage, and accommodate proper labelling. Packaging materials or gases where used must be non-toxic and not pose a threat to the safety and suitability of food under the specified conditions of storage and use. Where appropriate, reusable packaging should be suitably durable, easy to clean and, where necessary disinfected.
In contact with foodOnly potable water, should be used in food handling and processing, with the following exceptions:
- for steam production, fire control and other similar purposes not connected with food; and
- in certain food processes, e.g. chilling, and in food handling areas, provided this does not constitute a hazard to the safety and suitability of food (e.g. the use of clean sea water).
Water recirculated for reuse should be treated and maintained in such a condition that no risk to the safety and suitability of food results from its use. The treatment process should be effectively monitored. Recirculated water which has received no further treatment and water recovered from processing of food by evaporation or drying may be used, provided its use does not constitute a risk to the safety and suitability of food.
As an ingredient
Potable water should be used wherever necessary to avoid food contamination.
Ice and steam
Ice should be made from potable water that complies with WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality or water of a higher standard. Ice and steam should be produced, handled and stored to protect them from contamination. Steam used in direct contact with food or food contact surfaces should not constitute a threat to the safety and suitability of food.
The type of control and supervision needed will depend on the size of the business, the nature of its activities and the types of food involved. Managers and supervisors should have enough knowledge of food hygiene principles and practices to be able to judge potential risks, take appropriate preventive and corrective action, and ensure that effective monitoring and supervision takes place.
Where necessary, appropriate records of processing, production and distribution should be kept and retained for a period that exceeds the shelf-life of the product. Documentation can enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the food safety control system.
Establishment: Maintenance and Sanitation
To establish effective systems to:
- ensure adequate and appropriate maintenance and cleaning;
- control pests;
- manage waste; and
- monitor effectiveness of maintenance and sanitation procedures.
Establishments and equipment should be kept in an appropriate state of repair and condition to:
- facilitate all sanitation procedures;
- function as intended, particularly at critical steps
- prevent contamination of food, e.g. from metal shards, flaking plaster, debris and chemicals.
Cleaning should remove food residues and dirt which may be a source of contamination. The necessary cleaning methods and materials will depend on the nature of the food business. Disinfection may be necessary after cleaning. Cleaning chemicals should be handled and used carefully and in accordance with manufacturers instructions and stored, where necessary, separated from food, in clearly identified containers to avoid the risk of contaminating food.
Cleaning procedures and methods
Cleaning can be carried out by the separate or the combined use of physical methods, such as heat, scrubbing, turbulent flow, vacuum cleaning or other methods that avoid the use of water, and chemical methods using detergents, alkalis or acids. Cleaning procedures will involve the following where appropriate:
- removing gross debris from surfaces;
- applying a detergent solution to loosen soil and bacterial film and hold them in solution or suspension;
- rinsing with water which complies with WHO Guidelines for water quality, to remove loosened soil and residues of detergent;
- dry cleaning or other appropriate methods for removing and collecting residues and debris; and
- where necessary, disinfection with subsequent rinsing unless the manufacturers? instructions indicate on scientific basis that rinsing is not required.
Cleaning and disinfection programmes should ensure that all parts of the establishment are appropriately clean, and should include the cleaning of cleaning equipment. Cleaning and disinfection programmes should be continually and effectively monitored for their suitability and effectiveness and where necessary, documented.Where written cleaning programmes are used, they should specify:
- areas, items of equipment and utensils to be cleaned;
- responsibility for particular tasks;
- method and frequency of cleaning; and
- monitoring arrangements.
Where appropriate, programmes should be drawn up in consultation with relevant specialist expert advisors. Example of cleaning checklist:
|Date||Name||Area or utensils to be cleaned||Cleaning Materials||Time of day||Check||Sign|
|10/12/10||James||Production Table surfaces||Bio Wash||6.00pm||-||James|
Pests pose a major threat to the safety and suitability of food. Pest infestations can occur where there are breeding sites and a supply of food. Good hygiene practices should be employed to avoid creating an environment conducive to pests. Good sanitation, inspection of incoming materials and good monitoring can minimize the likelihood of infestation and thereby limit the need for pesticides.
Buildings should be kept in good repair and condition to prevent pest access and to eliminate potential breeding sites. Holes, drains and other places where pests are likely to gain access should be kept sealed. Wire mesh screens, for example on open windows, doors and ventilators, will reduce the problem of pest entry. Animals should, wherever possible, be excluded from the grounds of factories and food processing plants.
Harbourage and infestation
The availability of food and water encourages pest harbourage and infestation. Potential food sources should be stored in pest-proof containers and/or stacked above the ground and away from walls. Areas both inside and outside food premises should be kept clean. Where appropriate,refuse should be stored in covered, pest-proof containers.
Monitoring and detection
Establishments and surrounding areas should be regularly examined for evidence of infestation.
Pest infestations should be dealt with immediately and without adversely affecting food safety or suitability. Treatment with chemical, physical or biological agents should be carried out without posing a threat to the safety or suitability of food.
Suitable provision must be made for the removal and storage of waste. Waste must not be allowed to accumulate in food handling, food storage, and other working areas and the adjoining environment except so far as is unavoidable for the proper functioning of the business. Waste stores must be kept appropriately clean.
Sanitation systems should be monitored for effectiveness, periodically verified by means such as audit pre-operational inspections or, where appropriate, microbiological sampling of environment and food contact surfaces and regularly reviewed and adapted to reflect changed circumstances.
Establishment: Personal Hygiene
To ensure that those who come directly or indirectly into contact with food are not likely to contaminate food by:
- maintaining an appropriate degree of personal cleanliness;
- behaving and operating in an appropriate manner.
People known, or suspected, to be suffering from, or to be a carrier of a disease or illness likely to be transmitted through food, should not be allowed to enter any food handling area if there is a likelihood of their contaminating food. Any person so affected should immediately report illness or symptoms of illness to the management. Medical examination of a food handler should be carried out if clinically or epidemiologically indicated.
Conditions which should be reported to management so that any need for medical examination and/or possible exclusion from food handling can be considered, include:
- sore throat with fever;
- visibly infected skin lesions (boils, cuts, etc.);
- discharges from the ear, eye or nose.
Food handlers should maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and, where appropriate, wear suitable protective clothing, head covering, and footwear. Cuts and wounds, where personnel are permitted to continue working, should be covered by suitable waterproof dressings.Personnel should always wash their hands when personal cleanliness may affect food safety, for example:
- at the start of food handling activities;
- immediately after using the toilet; and
- after handling raw food or any contaminated material, where this could result in contamination of other food items; they should avoid handling ready-to-eat food, where appropriate.
People engaged in food handling activities should refrain from behaviour which could result in contamination of food, for example:
- chewing or eating;
- sneezing or coughing over unprotected food.
Personal effects such as jewellery, watches, pins or other items should not be worn or brought into food handling areas if they pose a threat to the safety and suitability of food.
Visitors to food manufacturing, processing or handling areas should, where appropriate, wear protective clothing and adhere to the other personal hygiene provisions in this section.
Food items can also become contaminated during transport and reach the destination spoiled. This is not only a financial loss and waste of time, but if sold in spite of this can cause serious problems.
Measures should be taken where necessary to:
- protect food from potential sources of contamination;
- protect food from damage likely to render the food unsuitable for consumption; and
- provide an environment which effectively controls the growth of pathogenic or spoilage micro-organisms and the production of toxins in food.
Food must be adequately protected during transport. The type of conveyances or containers required depends on the nature of the food and the conditions under which it has to be transported.
Where necessary, conveyances and bulk containers should be designed and constructed so that they:
- do not contaminate foods or packaging;
- can be effectively cleaned and, where necessary, disinfected;
- permit effective separation of different foods or foods from non-food items where necessary during transport;
- provide effective protection from contamination, including dust and fumes;
- can effectively maintain the temperature, humidity, atmosphere and other conditions necessary to protect food from harmful or undesirable microbial growth and deterioration likely to render it unsuitable for consumption; and
- allow any necessary temperature, humidity and other conditions to be checked.
Use and Maintenance
Conveyances and containers for transporting food should be kept in an appropriate state of cleanliness, repair and condition. Where the same conveyance or container is used for transporting different foods, or non-foods, effective cleaning and, where necessary, disinfection should take place between loads. Where appropriate, particularly in bulk transport, containers and conveyances should be designated and marked for food use only and be used only for that purpose.
Product Information and Consumer Awareness
Products should bear appropriate information to ensure that:
- adequate and accessible information is available to the next person in the food chain to enable them to handle, store, process, prepare and display the product safely and correctly;
- the lot or batch can be easily identified and recalled if necessary. Consumers should have enough knowledge of food hygiene to enable them to:
- understand the importance of product information;
- make informed choices appropriate to the individual; and
- prevent contamination and growth or survival of food borne pathogens by storing, preparing and using it correctly.
Information for industry or trade users should be clearly distinguishable from consumer information, particularly on food labels.
Lot identification is essential in product recall and also helps effective stock rotation. Each container of food should be permanently marked to identify the producer and the lot. Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods (CODEX STAN 1-1985, Rev. 1(1991)) applies.
All food products should be accompanied by or bear adequate information to enable the next person in the food chain to handle, display, store and prepare and use the product safely and correctly.
Prepackaged foods should be labelled with clear instructions to enable the next person in the food chain to handle, display, store and use the product safely. Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods (CODEX STAN 1-1985, Rev. (1991)) applies.
Health education programmes should cover general food hygiene. Such programmes should enable consumers to understand the importance of any product information and to follow any instructions accompanying products, and make informed choices. In particular consumers should be informed of the relationship between time/temperature control and foodborne illness.
Those engaged in food operations who come directly or indirectly into contact with food should be trained, and/or instructed in food hygiene to a level appropriate to the operations they are to perform.
Food hygiene training is fundamentally important. All personnel should be aware of their role and responsibility in protecting food from contamination or deterioration. Food handlers should have the necessary knowledge and skills to enable them to handle food hygienically. Those who handle strong cleaning chemicals or other potentially hazardous chemicals should be instructed in safe handling techniques.
Factors to take into account in assessing the level of training required include:
- the nature of the food, in particular its ability to sustain growth of pathogenic or spoilage micro-organisms;
- the manner in which the food is handled and packed, including the probability of contamination;
- the extent and nature of processing or further preparation before final consumption;
- the conditions under which the food will be stored; and
- the expected length of time before consumption.
Instruction and Supervision
Periodic assessments of the effectiveness of training and instruction programmes should be made, as well as routine supervision and checks to ensure that procedures are being carried out effectively. Managers and supervisors of food processes should have the necessary knowledge of food hygiene principles and practices to be able to judge potential risks and take the necessary action to remedy deficiencies.
Training programmes should be routinely reviewed and updated where necessary. Systems should be in place to ensure that food handlers remain aware of all procedures necessary to maintain the safety and suitability of food