Prerequisite programmes are practices and operational conditions that are essential for the production, handling and provision of food that is safe to eat. This term can also be referred as ‘good manufacturing practice’ or good ‘hygienic practice’. Prerequisite programmes are the foundation of HACCP and control general hazards. They include: approved suppliers, premises design, facilities and equipment, control of operation, maintenance, cleaning and disinfection, personal hygiene, training, maintenance, calibration of equipment, pest control, waste management, contingency plans, traceability, etc. The failure of prerequisite programmes may not necessary have an immediate harmful or objectionable impact on the safety or quality of food. Effective prerequisite programmes must include validation, monitoring and verification.
Validation may be a requirement for certain programmes. Cleaning and disinfection, for example, may require obtaining evidence that chemicals food safe and capable of reducing a hazard to an acceptable level.
Monitoring is important to determine if a prerequisite programme is under control. Although the results of monitoring may not provide an accurate picture of what is actually happening in the food premises. Food handlers may act differently when observed by supervisor or audit or records may have been fabricated and provide a false of security. Methods of monitoring may include organoleptic assessments, observations, visual inspections, checking records, asking questions, and taking measurements (testing). Planning is essential in monitoring prerequisite programmes and should include the best methods, locations, frequency, and those responsibility for supervising and completing the task.
Verification determines compliance with validated prerequisite programmes and includes audits, testing, checking documentation and records and observations. They can be completed by someone internally who does not conduct day to day monitoring, such as supervisor or manager, or externally. The frequency of verification will depend on the risk rating.
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