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What is HACCP & Why is it Important?

HACCP, or is an initialism used in the hospitality industry to manage food hygiene and safety standards across all departments. When working with food, there are several hazards that you will come across that you will need to know how to deal with at every level of experience or responsibility. 

So, what is HACCP and why is it important? HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. It is used to outline key areas in kitchen preparation, handling or transportation areas where risk can be controlled and managed. These guidelines are relevant to all food-based industries such as food delivery, handling, packing and storage. 

Read on to learn more about the essentials of HACCP and why following its procedures is important to run a safe industrial kitchen, food handling service or food manufacturing site. 

What is HACCP?

If you own, run or work in a kitchen or food preparation area then you will be subject to visits from the Food Standards Agency where you will be required to show evidence of your compliance with HACCP. You will then be issued a rating per your compliance with these standards. 

HACCP consists of 7 Core Principles which are to be followed at every level of food handling to meet food safety standards.

 These principles are:

  1. Identify Hazards - what areas present a risk to food safety currently at every step of your work process?
  2. Hazard Analysis - identify critical control points where your business could eliminate or improve its approach to food safety hazards. 
  3. Specify Control Measures - what measures can you make to reduce hazards to an acceptable level?
  4. Determine Critical Control Points - determine those hazards which are critical as opposed to where control is important but not deemed critical). 
  5. Monitoring - are your methods being followed and practised effectively?
  6. Establish a Corrective Plan - Based on your monitoring of CCP. If something goes wrong, how can you correct it?
  7. Record Keeping - are you keeping records of both good and bad practices in HACCP for you and HSE purposes?

What Hazards Apply to HACCP?

Hazards in food production, preparation, storage and handling are things that are typically considered harmful to a food product, making it unsafe to eat. These hazards can be broken down into 3 easy-to-remember categories and will cover every aspect of food contamination. They include:


Microbiological contamination poses a hazard as bacterial growth on food leaves behind pathogens which are harmful when consumed. Considerations to be made around microbiological contamination of food are usually around incorrect storage and temperature of food once it is left to cool. 

The UK government provides a pack for small businesses (known as ‘Safer food, better business’) where they outline the key steps for correct storage and temperature management. This will be issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and should be attained up to 28 days before your business begins trading.

Correct management of bacterial contamination is both the responsibility of the management and the person handling the food. These risks can be limited by;

  • always washing your hands effectively;
  • always wearing clean clothes;
  • removing jewellery and watches when working;
  • avoiding coughing or sneezing in areas where food is present;
  • practising safe temperature and storage methods;
  • the correct storage of waste products away from food poses a clear microbial contamination risk. Your indoor bins should be away from any food, and your large outdoor bins should be stored separately from any walk-ins or dry storage areas. 

Limiting these factors and keeping yourself and your staff accountable is key to reducing microbiological hazards when working with food. When you are assessed by a health and safety executive, they will be assessing these key areas and your diligence towards them regularly. It remains best practice to therefore always uphold these standards to keep everyone involved safe from contamination. 


Chemical contamination can take various forms, notably; allergy contamination, refuse contamination or chemical usage around food preparation areas. You should, in all areas of food handling, consider the following practices to reduce chemical contamination to effectively meet the required levels of due diligence:

  • Correct use of cleaning chemicals to the manufacturer's specified levels. These instructions are normally provided on the container and many modern companies have a 1 or 2-pump method which is easy to follow. Incorrect dilution of chemicals can be toxic so stay consistent with your mixing levels to ensure chemicals are used effectively.
  • Using surface cleaners appropriately, such as D10 for surfaces during service and degreaser for end-of-shift cleaning tasks. 
  • Correct methods to ensure allergen particulates are managed to a safe level. This may include designated and sealed chopping boards, utensils, shelving and even clothes for the key 14 allergens. The frequency and demand for diligence towards these allergens are circumstantial between sites and industries. You should have a system in place that is dependent on your business's needs on a case-to-case basis.
  • Correct storage of chemicals is key in food hazard management. Always store your chemicals away from food, ideally in a different, well-ventilated room from any food, ideally in a sealed container.
  • Any waste poses a chemical risk in its own right. Correct waste storage away from all food should be practised as this could lead to chemical contamination, as well as physical and microbial risk, too. 


Physical contamination poses a risk from large particulate matter entering food. This can range from almost anything, including:

  • hair from improper use of hairnets;
  • plasters, gloves or rings falling off a hand and making their way into food during preparation or handling; 
  • items falling into food from above, such as kitchen equipment, labels or stationary that are improperly stored;
  • ash from cigarettes or chewing gum.

This is an inexhausted list of contaminants that should be assessed by you in line with HACCP standards. You should always be aware of what is stored above a food item and how it imposed a physical risk to anything underneath it. 

Why is HACCP Important?

Following proper HACCP guidelines helps build a strong backbone for any business at any level in the food industry. There are many reasons why you would want to follow these guidelines from building a good reputation between businesses and customers to improving your health and safety rating. 

Compliance with HACCP should be key to anyone wanting to work with food safely and successfully. Great businesses are ones that can be trusted to carry out their duties safely and effectively where people’s well-being is put at the forefront of operations. Put in simpler terms, failure to follow these guidelines and practices could not only cost your job, but also your business, or even cause someone to lose their life. 

Do The HACCP Rules Apply to Me?

Some practices will differ between industries. For example, some rules found in food distribution won’t be relevant for food production and preparation. However, we will cover the core elements that cover all industries and are considered standard across each sector in accordance with current UK Laws and Regulations. 

If you are interested in risk assessments for a particular business, then see our dedicated assessments for;

Each industry comes with its own set of hazards depending on the food used. Any risk assessment completed with HSEDocs will be considered towards your due diligence and therefore rating as a business as seen by the FSA. 

HSEDocs provides an Online Level 2 Food Hygiene Course which can be completed online in under 2 hours and is recognised by the relevant government bodies and counts towards your Food Hygiene rating. 

When you are visited by a food safety inspector, you will not only be reviewed on your current compliance with these core principles, but also your historic records based on compliance. Good record-keeping is essential to any well-run asset in the food industry and can lead to heavy deductions issued despite current compliance. The reverse is also true. If you are inspected on an a-typical day where you aren’t fully up to code, then historic records of compliance can be seen as diligent in line with correct practices. 

HACCP Compliance Training at HSEDocs

HACCP compliance is key to running your business safely and to governmental guidelines. If you are looking to attain a high Food Safety Standard rating, then following the 7 core principles and understanding the 3 key hazards is key to doing so. 

HSEDocs provides many online courses on training provided to anyone at any level to help them understand and comply with food hygiene standards at a nationally recognised level. 

Online Level 2 Food Hygiene Training Course

Further reading on the course and why it's key to the food industry is provided in our dedicated blog on Food Health & Safety Courses.