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Archived - Guide to Food Safety

This page has been archived

This page was archived due to the coming into force of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Archived information is provided for reference, research or record-keeping purposes only. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. For current information visit Food.

September 2010

Table of Contents

Introduction

Food safety is a collective responsibility of government, industry and consumers. All food operators are responsible under Canadian law for the safety of the food they produce and distribute. The Guide to Food Safety is a voluntary tool that provides the Canadian food industry with generic guidance on how to design, develop and implement effective preventive food safety control systems. This will help to enhance food safety and prevent foodborne illness, foodborne injury and food spoilage.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recognizes that various food safety programs and codes of practice have been implemented by the provinces and federally registered sectors, such as meat and fish processing sectors. The Guide to Food Safety is not designed or intended to supersede or replace any existing requirements of federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Target audience

The Guide to Food Safety can apply to all Canadian food operations, from primary production through to final consumption, regardless of the size of the operation or the commodity. It may be adopted by all food operators, including importers, manufacturers, packers, distributors, retailers, food services and institutions.

Design

The Guide to Food Safety is based upon the Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) in 2003. It is consistent with Codex's recommendations to enhance food safety by applying a systematic preventive approach.

The Guide to Food Safety is outcome-based. It is flexible enough for food operators to apply various preventive system approaches that are designed to help produce safe food, such as

The Guide to Food Safety complements the Industry Labelling Tool, which provides information on food labelling and advertising requirements.

How to use this guide

The Guide to Food Safety is designed to aid Canadian food operators to build preventive food safety control systems that

Each chapter of the guide addresses specific components of a preventive food safety control system. Each section within the chapters identifies the desired outcomes, followed by suggested guidelines to achieve these outcomes.

All operations are unique, so they have different hazards and controls. As a result, there will be situations where some of the guidelines contained in the Guide to Food Safety are not applicable. Users of the guide are encouraged to apply the guidelines to their operations, and adapt them as necessary to effectively identify and manage their food safety hazards. Regardless of how this guide is used, Canadian food operators are responsible to ensure their products are in compliance with all applicable Canadian food legislation.

Terminology

In this guide, the term "should" indicates a recommended guideline for operators to implement. "Should" also gives the operator the flexibility to choose different approaches that achieve the same outcome but are still suitable to the situation.

Terms such as "where appropriate" and "as necessary" mean that operators should determine whether and how a specific guideline applies to their operation.

Readers will find a glossary of technical terms at the end of this guide.

There is also a list of additional resources, including websites of federal, provincial and international programs, guidance documents and legislation. These give readers information and tools to develop preventive food safety control systems (for example, Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP)Footnote 1, Quality Management Program (QMP), HACCP Generic Models, ISO standards).

Chapter 1: Pre-Requisite Programs

The primary food safety objective for any food operation is to supply food that is safe for human consumption. This chapter provides guidance on developing pre-requisite programs (that is, hygienic and operational conditions). These are universal steps or procedures that control the conditions within a food operation.

Effective pre-requisite programs promote conditions that help to produce safe food. They are essential to support the foundation of a preventive food safety control system as described in Chapter 2. Pre-requisite programs include many control measures necessary for producing safe food. Implementation of these control measures is encouraged before processing begins.

Maintaining appropriate documentation and records is an important element of effective pre-requisite programs because they provide an indication of whether the control measures are implemented effectively. Because of this, when pre-requisite programs are implemented, they should include written policies and/or procedures.

1.1 Design and Construction of Premises

1.1.1 Buildings

Outcome

Buildings are located, designed, constructed and maintained to facilitate hygienic operations.

Guidelines
Surrounding areas
Building exteriors
Building interiors
Lighting
Ventilation

1.1.2 Facilities

Outcome

Facilities are located, designed, constructed and maintained to facilitate hygienic operation.

Guidelines
Sanitary facilities
Waste disposal facilities
Equipment cleaning and sanitizing facilities

1.1.3 Food contact surfaces

Outcome

Food contact surfaces should be designed, constructed and maintained to facilitate hygienic operation.

Guidelines

1.1.4 Water, ice and steam

Outcome

Water, ice and/or steam that come into contact with food and/or food contact surfaces is potable and protected from contamination.

Guidelines
Water
Ice
Steam

1.2 Controls of Operation

1.2.1 Transportation, receiving/shipping, storage and handling

Outcome

All incoming materials (food and non-food) and finished products are transported, received/shipped, stored and handled under conditions that prevent, eliminate or reduce damage and/or contamination.

Guidelines
Carriers
Incoming food materials and finished products
Food packaging materials
Non-food chemicals

1.2.2 Temperature control

Outcome

Temperature is controlled appropriately during transportation, handling and storage of food to minimize deterioration of the product.

Guidelines

1.2.3 Equipment

Outcome

Equipment and utensils are designed, constructed and installed to facilitate hygienic operations and are effectively maintained and calibrated to function as intended.

Guidelines
Equipment and utensils
Maintenance and calibration

1.2.4 Personal hygiene and health

Outcome

All people entering food processing, storage, distribution and handling areas have an appropriate degree of personal cleanliness and take the appropriate precautions to prevent the contamination of food and food contact surfaces.

Guidelines
Personal hygiene practices
Communicable diseases and injuries

1.2.5 Training

Outcome

Personnel have adequate technical knowledge and understanding of the operation(s) or process(es) for which they are responsible and understand the precautions necessary to prevent the contamination of food and food contact surfaces.

Guidelines

1.2.6 Sanitation

Outcome

The premises, equipment and food contact surfaces are maintained in clean and sanitary condition.

Guidelines
General sanitation
Premises sanitation
Equipment and utensils sanitation
Food contact surfaces sanitation

1.2.7 Pest control

Outcome

The premises are free of pests.

Guidelines

1.2.8 Product coding and recall

Outcome

Potentially unsafe food products are identified rapidly and removed efficiently from the marketplace.

Guidelines
Product coding
Recall

1.2.9 Complaint handling

Outcome

Complaints are handled effectively to identify possible deficiencies in the operations.

Guidelines

1.3 Record-Keeping

Outcome

Accurate information related to manufacturing, handling, storage and distribution is documented and the records properly maintained.

Guidelines

Chapter 2: Preventive Food Safety control Systems

A preventive food safety control system is a written plan outlining the actions and measures taken to ensure that food:

This chapter provides guidance on developing a preventive food safety control system using a science-based and systematic approach. It provides guidelines to assess food safety hazards and establish preventive control measures.

The guidance outlined in this chapter is outcome-based. It is also flexible enough for operators to choose the most appropriate preventive food safety control programs for their operations, such as HACCP, FSEP, QMP, ISO and Good Importing Practices (GIP). Whichever control program is implemented, it must result in safe food production, and final food products that meet the requirements of Canadian food legislation.

Management awareness and on-going commitment is critical to develop, implement and maintain an effective preventive food safety control system. The effectiveness of the system will also depend on management and employees having the appropriate knowledge of food hygiene principles and practices, and the necessary skills to apply them.

The successful control of food safety hazards also depends on the full commitment and involvement of all personnel in meeting the requirements of a preventive food safety control system.

Before implementing a preventive food safety control system, effective pre-requisite programs (as outlined in Chapter 1) should be in place. This is so that the foundation for a preventive food safety control system is in place.

2.1 Assemble the TeamFootnote 2

Outcome

A preventive food safety control system is developed by a team with appropriate expertise and knowledge.

Guidelines

2.2 Describe the Product and Its Intended Use

Outcome

The description of the finished product and its intended use is sufficient to identify all potential hazards.

Guidelines

2.3 Construct Flow Diagrams and Plant SchematicsFootnote 3

Outcome

An accurate and detailed process-flow diagram that identifies potential sources and controls of hazards, and a plant schematic that shows product and employee traffic flow, to identify potential areas of cross-contamination.

Guidelines

2.4 Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Outcome

Hazards associated with ingredients and incoming materials, processing steps, product flow and employee traffic patterns are identified.

Guidelines

Biological hazards

Chemical hazards

Physical hazards

2.5 Determine and Apply Control MeasuresFootnote 4

Outcome

Control measures are determined and applied to prevent, eliminate or reduce identified food safety hazards to acceptable levels.

Guidelines

2.6 Validation

Outcome

The parameters of control measures are validated.

Guidelines

2.7 Monitoring

Outcome

Control measures are monitored to assess if the food safety hazards are controlled.

Guidelines

2.8 Corrective Action

Outcome

Corrective action is taken when a deviation occurs.

Guidelines

2.9 Verification

Outcome

The preventive food safety control system is verified to confirm the effectiveness of control measures.

Guidelines

2.10 Record-Keeping

Outcome

Accurate information related to the safety of products is documented and the records properly maintained.

Guidelines

Glossary

Allergen: Any substance capable of producing an abnormal immune response in sensitive individuals. (Allergène)

Carrier: A mechanism or device by which something is conveyed or transported. (Transporteur)

Cleaning: The removal of soil, food residue, dirt, grease or other objectionable matter. (Nettoyage)

Codex Alimentarius Commission: A subsidiary body of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations. (Commission du Codex Alimentarius)

Contaminant: Any biological or chemical agent, foreign matter, or other substances added to food, which may compromise food safety or suitability. (Contaminant)

Contamination: The introduction or occurrence of a contaminant in food or food environment. (Contamination)

Control: The state wherein an operation meets established parameters and process requirements, consistently resulting in a safe product. (Contrôle)

Control measures: Procedures established to prevent, eliminate or reduce identified hazards to acceptable levels. (Mesures de contrôle)

Corrective action: The actions to be taken to maintain control when monitoring indicates a deviation, and dealing with any affected product when there is a deviation. (Mesure corrective)

Deviation: Failure to meet an established parameter or other specified requirement for control measures. (Écart)

Documents: For the purposes of this text, documents refers to written formulae, procedures or specifications used by, or required of, a food industry operator. (Documents)

Food: Includes 1) any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human beings, 2) chewing gum, and 3) any ingredient that may be mixed with food for any purpose whatever. (Aliment)

Food hygiene: All conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain. (Hygiène alimentaire)

Food industry: All food operators, including importers and domestic manufacturers, packers, distributors, and other food handlers. (Industrie alimentaire)

Hazard: A biological, chemical or physical agent in food, or a condition of a food, that may cause an adverse health effect. (Danger)

Hazard analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards and conditions leading to their presence, to decide which ones are significant for food safety. (Analyse des dangers)

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP): An approach recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as a means to enhance food safety. It functions to identify, evaluate, and control hazards that are significant for food safety. (Analyse des dangers et maîtrise des points critiques (HACCP))

Incoming material: All incoming materials used in the operation, including food ingredients, additives, packaging materials, cleaning supplies, etc. (Matières premières)

Lot: Definitive quantity of a commodity produced essentially under the same conditions. (Lot)

Lux level: The lux (lx) is an unit of luminous emittance defined by the International System of Units (SI). It is used to measure the apparent intensity of light hitting or passing through a surface. (Niveau de lux)

Monitoring: A planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a control measure (or other activity) is under control. (Surveillance)

Operator: The person who is responsible for the safety of the food. The term "operator" includes importers and domestic manufacturers, packers, distributors, retailers, food services and institutions. (Exploitant)

Packaging material: The type of container in which the product is packaged (for example, glass, wood, plastic, cardboard). (Matériel d'emballage)

Potable water: Drinkable water that will not cause illness. (Eau potable)

Premises: Any building or area for food manufacturing, storage, distribution or handling in which food is produced, received, stored, distributed and/or handled, and the surroundings under the control of the same management. (Bâtiments)

Pre-requisite programs: Universal steps or procedures that control the operational conditions within a food operation, and promote environmental conditions that are favourable for producing safe food. (Programme préalable)

Recall: A system by which products that may be hazardous to consumers are removed from the marketplace. (Rappel)

Records: For the purposes of this document, observations and measurements recorded by operators related to the safety of products or used to determine adherence to control measures. (Dossiers)

Sanitizing: Reducing the level of micro-organisms to a level that will not compromise the safety of a food product. (Assainissement)

Spoilage: The process of decay in food products. (Détérioration)

Step: A point, procedure, operation or stage in the food chain, including receipt of raw materials. (Étape)

Validation: Obtaining evidence to show that the control measures, when implemented as intended, are effective in controlling the hazard to the appropriate level and that this level of control can be achieved consistently. (Validation)

Verification: Applying methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring of a control system or its records performed on a regular basis to determine whether the preventive food safety control system is effective. (Vérification)

Additional Resources

1.0 CFIA

Canadian Food Inspection Agency: main site

Industry Labelling Tool

Reference Listing of Accepted Construction Materials, Packaging Materials and Non-Food Chemical Products

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points / Food Safety Enhancement Program

Developing a Quality Management Program Plan: A Fish and Seafood Processor's Step-by-Step Guide

Food Safety: main site

Specific Products and Risks

The Canadian Food Safety System — Food Recall

Food Recall and Emergency Response

Good Importing Practices for Food

2.0 Acts & Regulations (As they relate to food)

Acts and Regulations Administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

3.0 Health Canada

Health Canada: main site

Food and Nutrition

Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines

Canadian Guidelines for Food Processing during Adverse Water Events

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for Infant Formula

The Compendium of Analytical Methods

Advisories, Warnings and Recalls

Pesticide Public Registry (Pest Management Regulatory Agency)

4.0 Provincial Governments (As they relate to food)

Provincial and Territorial Government Web Sites

5.0 International

Codex Alimentarius Commission: main site

Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene

FAO/WHO guidance to governments on the application of HACCP in small and/or less-developed food businesses

Ensuring food quality and safety and FAO technical assistance

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for the 21st Century - Food Processing - US Food and Drug Administration

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000:2005
Food safety management systems -- Requirements for any organization in the food chain

Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute: SQF Program

6.0 Others

Food Retail and Food Services Code (September 2004)

Small Scale Food Processors Association's Food Safety Planning Portal for Food Processors

Annex I: Example of a Process Flow Diagram (breakfast cereal)

Annex 1: Example of a Process Flow Diagram (breakfast cereal)
Description for flowchart - Description of Processing Steps for Breakfast Cereal Products

Annex I: Example of a Process Flow Diagram (breakfast cereal)

Description of Processing Steps for Breakfast Cereal Products

This is a flow chart that describes the process for producing breakfast cereal. The process is divided into 15 steps.

Step 1

  • Receiving
  • This step involves inspecting grain or grits or flour that arrives at the mill.
  • Operators should establish purchasing specifications and assess a composite sample of the grain prior to receiving.

Step 2

  • Other Incoming Material Storage
  • This step involves storing incoming material other than grain in a designated area upon receipt. Examples include food additives, micronutrient premix, packaging material and non-food chemicals.

Step 3

  • Flaking Grits or Flour Storage
  • This step involves loading and storing accepted grain or grits or flour at the mill in large bins, polypropylene bags or silos.

Step 4

  • Mixing and Addition of Food Additives
  • This step involves mixing grain or grits or flour with other incoming ingredients. For example, adding permitted food additives.

Step 5

  • Cooking
  • This step involves breaking the softened grain into coarse particles, as an initial step in the milling process.

Step 6

  • Drying and Cooling
  • This step involves removing heat to prevent overcooking and removing moisture to prevent lumping and stickiness.

Step 7

  • Tempering
  • This step involves adjusting the moisture content to prevent the product from breaking during flaking.

Step 8

  • Flaking
  • This step involves rolling cooked grits into thin flakes.

Step 9

  • Toasting
  • This step involves heating and removing moisture to enhance crispiness, flavour and shelf life.

Step 10

  • Fortification and
  • Coating
  • This step involves spraying and coating the flakes for flavour and fortification.

Step 11

  • Cooling and Drying
  • This step involves the final removal of heat and moisture before packaging.

Step 12

  • Metal Detection
  • This step involves passing the finished product through a metal detector to detect and eliminate metal in the final product.

Step 13

  • Weighing, Packaging, Labelling, Coding
  • This step involves weighing, packaging and labelling, as well as date and lot coding of the finished product.

Step 14

  • Final Product Storage
  • This step involves storing the final product in designated areas before shipping and distributing it.

Step 15

  • Shipping and Distribution
  • This step involves shipping and distribution of the final product to customers using designated carriers.

Annex II: Example of a Plant Schematic Diagram

Annex 2: Example of a Plant Schematic Diagram
Description for flowchart - Description of plant schematic diagram

Annex II: Example of a Plant Schematic Diagram

Description:

This diagram is an example for a plant schematic diagram.

The plant schematic diagram identifies various rooms in an establishment. It also identifies the flows associated with different people and processes in the plant. These include finished product employees, raw product employees, raw product flow and finished product flow.

The rooms identified in this diagram include the following: change rooms, washrooms, office, shipping, refrigerated cooler, frozen storage, tempering room, receiving and cooking operation.

The raw product employee and raw product flow moves from the receiving area to the following areas: the refrigerated cooler to the tempering room and to the cooking operation room.

The finished employee movement moves from the cooking operation room to the frozen storage and shipping areas and into the change room and washroom.

The finished product flow moves from the cooking operation room to the frozen storage and then to the shipping area.

Annex III: Example of a Decision Tree

Annex 3: Example of a Decision Tree
Description for flowchart - Description of plant schematic diagram

Annex III: Example of Decision Tree for determining CCPs

Description:

This diagram is a decision tree diagram. It helps determine whether a given process in the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points system is a critical control point or not. This decision tree diagram is based on a Codex Alimentarius document called the Recommended International Code of Practice – General Principles of Food Hygiene, Annex to CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 3 (1997).

This decision tree diagram consists of four principle questions:

Question 1: Do preventative control measures exist?

A. If yes, go to Question 2.

B. If no, is the control at this step necessary for safety?

1. If yes, modify step, process or product and go back to Question 1.

2. If no, the control measure is not a critical control point. Proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.

Question 2: Is the step specifically designed to eliminate or reduce the likely occurrence of a hazard to an acceptable level? Note: acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be determined with the overall objectives in identifying the critical control points of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan.

A. If yes, this is a critical control point.

B. If no, go to Question 3.

Question 3: Could contamination with an identified hazard or hazards occur in excess of acceptable level or levels, or could it increase to unacceptable levels? Note: Acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be determined with the overall objectives in identifying the critical control points of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan.

A. If yes, go to Question 4.

B. If no, the control measure is not a critical control point. Proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.

Question 4: Will a subsequent step eliminate identified hazard or hazards or reduce the likely occurrence of acceptable levels? Note: acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be determined with the overall objectives in identifying the critical control points of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan.

A. If yes, control measure that is not a critical control point. Proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.

B. If no, this is a critical control point.

Reference: Based on an annex in the Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene (CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 3 (1997), Codex Alimentarius).

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