Hygiene principles



The aim of this guide is to introduce the basic principles behind reducing the potential of a food hygiene hazard to cause adverse human health effects. This guidance covers the whole process from culling through to processing and transport. Detailed information is provided in supporting guides identified in table 1.

HACCP – (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point)

All who are involved in producing and preparing food, which includes stalkers operating under the exemptions provided for in the EC Food Hygiene Regulations, are responsible for making sure that, as far as possible, the food supplied is safe to eat. Those involved in processing (as opposed to those who only ever supply in-skin carcasses) also have to put in place food safety management procedures based on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) principles.1 (Note: A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a point, step or procedure at which controls can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable (critical) levels).
To produce safe food for consumers, all the important safety hazards that are associated with the production of food need to be prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. These food safety hazards may be biological, physical or chemical (see table 1 ).

The HACCP principles provide a systematic way of identifying food safety hazards, making sure they are being managed responsibly by the food business operator and showing this is being done day-in, day-out. In short this involves the following steps:

  • Plan: Decide what needs to be done to maintain food safety and write it down;
  • Do: Do what you said you would do;
  • Check: Check that you are doing what you planned to do and write down what was checked and when;
  • Act: Take action to correct any food safety problems and write down what has been done about the problem and when.

Hygiene Hazards

In order to produce safe food for consumers, the hazards associated with the production of food need to be identified, then prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. These food safety hazards are categorised in table 2.

Temperature conditions
Certain types of bacteria can double their number within 30 minutes. The number of bacteria required to cause illness on a healthy adult can be as few as only 10 (E.coli). Temperature controls must be maintained to minimise the hazard.
Temperature effect:
ºC to -20ºC bacteria dormant
ºC to +7ºC bacteria grow slowly
ºC to + 63ºC DANGER ZONE bacteria multiply explosively
ºC bacteria mostly destroyed.

table 1

Category of hazardExampleRisk
Biological Harmful food poisoning bacteria such as E. coli O157, Salmonella and Campylobacter
Contamination from fly blow, dogs, vermin
Transferred during gralloching, extraction, lardering and preparation via worker’s hands, knives, surfaces, water. Can grow during processing, storage and transport. Could be transmitted directly from carcass
May infest/bite/be ingested by humans.
Causes spoiling and possible food poisoning.
ChemicalCleaning fluids
Petrol/oil and other chemicals carried in vehicles or in environment
Residues from veterinary medicines (such as Immobilon)
Chemicals or residues may cause harm on contact or if ingested. Residues may not be break down in raw meat or during cooking process.
PhysicalVegetation, soil, dead insects, jewellery, tags, clips, rubber bands, sticky plasters, fragments of bullet and bone dust, rust, flaking paint
Damage to carcass
Contamination of carcasses.
Some objects may be harmful if ingested.
Shot or other physical damage during transport or preparation could render meat unfit or hasten it’s deterioration

Basic actions to reduce hygiene hazard (controls)

When working with food:Maintain a high degree of personal hygiene
Wear clean clothes or protective garments
Do not touch your face or hair
Do not cough or sneeze over food products
Do not wear jewellery or other items which may become soiled or fall into food
Do not eat, drink, or smoke
Wash hands to prevent contamination:Before starting work
Frequently during work to avoid soiling carcass
After touching raw food especially meats
After going to the toilet
After a break or leaving the larder
Prevent contamination from cuts and skin ailments by: Covering cuts with blue food safe dressings and/or wearing gloves Seeking medical advice if unsure
When suffering from diarrhoea/vomiting/ stomach upset/transmissible skin condition: Do not handle carcasses or work in the larder or food preparation area
Anyone suffering from these symptoms should not return to work until 24 hours after the symptoms have stopped
Before beginning work in, or when returning to, the larderPut on a washable apron and /or change into clean clothes and clean footwear
Prevent cross contamination by:Minimising contact with anything not essential to the food process.
Keeping work areas properly cleaned.
Cleaning tools(especially knives and saws ), other equipment and transport containers thoroughly between carcasses
Use only single use, disposable wipes