Food safety and hygiene (microorganisms, food poisoning, HACCP, guidelines and legislation)

Food safety and hygiene (microorganisms, food poisoning, HACCP, guidelines and legislation)

Food Safety and Hygiene


  • Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are everywhere in our environment.
  • Not all microorganisms are harmful; some are even beneficial in food production like in making cheese and yoghurt.
  • Pathogenic microorganisms can cause illnesses when ingested, including harmful forms of E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria.
  • Conditions that influence the growth of microorganisms include temperature, time, moisture, and pH.
  • The Danger Zone for bacterial growth is between 5°C and 63°C.

Food poisoning

  • Food poisoning is a sickness resulting from consuming foods contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, toxins, or chemicals.
  • Symptoms often include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and may start within hours of eating the tainted food.
  • Proper food safety practices like hand hygiene, safe cooking temperatures and proper storage can help prevent food poisoning.
  • Cross-contamination is a significant source of food poisoning, occurring when harmful bacteria are transferred from one item, often raw food, to another.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point)

  • HACCP is a system designed to enhance food safety throughout the food production process.
  • The seven principles of HACCP include conducting a hazard analysis, identifying critical control points, establishing critical limits, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification, and proper documentation.
  • The goal of HACCP is to identify, evaluate, and control hazards that could potentially affect food safety.

Guidelines and legislation

  • Food safety in the UK is governed by several acts and regulations to ensure the health and safety of consumers.
  • The EC Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs requires food businesses to have a food safety management system in place based on HACCP principles.
  • The Food Safety Act 1990 is the primary legislation for food safety, making it a criminal offense to sell unsafe food.
  • The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 lays out the minimum hygiene requirements for all aspects of your food business, from premises and facilities to the personal hygiene of staff.
  • Regular inspections are done by enforcement officers from the local authority to ensure food businesses comply with legislation.