Food Safety and Protection

Identifying Food Safety Hazards

Why is it that so many food businesses fail to identify their food hazards correctly? The identification and control of food hazards forms the basis of every HACCP Program. It is really HACCP 101! The worst case scenarios for not identifying and controling food hazards adequately are food poisoning outbreaks, product recalls and very bad media coverage (damage to your brand). So how do you work out what hazards could occur in your business?

There are many different methods but here are a few to get you started.

(1) Review your customer complaints

Have a look at what your customers are complaining about. If they complain about the same things all the time it really means that you have failed to fix the problem and identify the root cause of the issue.

(2) Look at business history

Talk to people who have worked in the business for a long period of time. There may be memories of things going wrong or issues that contributed to them having a really bad day.

(3) Talk to staff

Some of your employees may have worked for in previous food businesses and can recall things that went wrong or “hazards”.

(4) Access Government Public Databases

Food Standards Australia New Zealand put out alerts on products that are under recall from the marketplace. Have a look at the database to find out what products are being recalled for. Other government regulators may also publish a “Name and Shame” list of food businesses that have been prosecuted or fined. Researching the detail of these listings should tell you what the hazards area.

(5) Research industry based journals and technical information

Support industry bodies can be a good source in identifying issues that face your industry as a whole. Scientific information around food poisoning hazards is available from your testing laboratories, public health departments of government and universities.

I suggest you do a brain-storming activity with your HACCP team and come up with as many hazards as you can. You can then go and slot them into which hazards can occur at each step in your process. Once this process is completed, you can start on the massive job of analysing the risk of each of the identified hazards (and how do to that…I will leave until another time!)

If you want to know more about identifying hazards in your business let us know by contacting us or leave us a comment.

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