Hazards are controlled by effective control measures. Codex defines a control measure as: ‘any action and activity that can be used to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.’ Commonly used control measures include:
- Approved suppliers
- Temperature control
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Pest control programme
- Personal Hygiene/Personal Protection Clothing
- Premises design and layout
- Designated areas and equipment
- Product formulation (PH, AW, preservatives)
- Metal Detectors
- Sieving/ filtration
- Product specification (e.g. size)
A control measure must relate to the hazard and the source or cause. Different available options must be considered to establish the most effective method of control. Existing control measures in place may not be enough to manage the hazard. Additional control might be necessary. The product or process step may need to be modified so a control measure can be applied.
A control measure is not automatically applied at the same process step at which a specific hazard may occur. More than one control measure maybe required to manage a specific hazard or multiple hazards may be addressed by a specific control measure. Control measures must be validated to prove they can always control hazards. They must also be underpinned by robust procedures that are clear and understood.
Control measures can fall into three distinct categories: prerequisite programmes (PRP’s), operational prerequisite programmes (OPRP’s) and critical control points (CCP’s).
- PRP’s do not focus on any specific step in the process and provide basic operational and environmental conditions required for safe food. Most hazards are controlled by effective PRP’s.
- OPRP’s focus on a specific step in the process where the hazard is not effectively managed through CCP’s and PRP’s.
- CCP’s defines a step in the process at which control measures must be applied to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it any acceptable level. A CCP is only valid if control can be applied. A decision tree is used to determine which hazards are controlled by each category.
Control measures must be measurable and detectable to support monitoring and verification activities. A robust system must be in place to review control measures to ensure they remain effective in controlling hazards.
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