- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has proposed a more simplified approach to food safety management in small retail businesses, including guidelines on how to identify hazards at each stage of the food production process and appropriate control measures
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EFSA believes that a combination of managerial, organisational and technical hurdles mean that many small food retailers experience difficulty when adhering to the requirements of existing food safety management systems (FSMS). The authority states that applying often complex hazard analysis and critical control point plans can be beyond the capacity of shops that may employ only a handful of staff.
EFSA has developed simple FSMS for five types of small food business – 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 summarise the stages of production, an accompanying questionnaire, and 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 that retailers are not required to have detailed knowledge of specific hazards. Shop owners 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.
The classical approach of ranking and prioritising hazards, which is usually required before decisions on control measures can be taken, has been removed from EFSA’s system.
Retailers can find out more at efsa.europa.eu
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