The Importance of Hazard Analysis for Retail Butchers

Hazard Analysis for Butchers

All food businesses must develop documented food safety management procedures based on HACCP.  This is particularly important in premises that have higher risks such as butchers handling raw and cooked food.

Butchers’ shops will require more in-depth record keeping than lower risk food businesses.  It means that butchers must identify where risks to food safety could occur and how they will control those risks.

By conducting a hazard analysis, the critical control points are identified then procedures based on the HACCP food safety management system are put in place to implement and maintain a food safety plan.  When carrying out the hazard analysis assessment, the business owner must ensure that it will work in practice and that every step can be continually implemented.

Keeping HACCP records up to date may help you establish a defence of due diligence should you find yourself subject to a complaint by a member of the public.  With the correct procedures in place, you ensure that customers are provided with meat that is safe to eat and suitable for consumption.

Warm and wet meat provides the ideal conditions for growth of food poisoning and spoilage bacteria.

A combination of low temperatures and dry surfaces will inhibit the growth of bacteria and extend shelf life.  Bacteria can multiply quickly if meat is stored or transported at too high a temperature or if heat treatment is inadequate.

What should your hazard analysis cover?

Your hazard analysis should cover safe storage and the importance of temperature controls to minimize the risk of causing illness to consumers.  Failure to maintain the correct temperature throughout the cold chain could result in the growth of bacteria on meat. The higher the temperature, the faster bacteria can multiply.

E coli 0157 is a particularly harmful bacterium as only a few organisms [less than 100 bacteria] can lead to serious illness and death. The severity of the illness and the lack of treatment mean that every consumer needs to be protected from the risk of food being contaminated by E coli 0157.

One of the most common sources of E coli 0157 is raw meat and outbreaks have occurred which have been linked to the contamination of ready-to-eat foods by raw foods within butchery premises.

Temperature control plays a vital part in reducing the risks within butchery businesses.  The temperature of food on delivery should be checked to ensure that it is being supplied at the correct temperature.  For large deliveries, random checks of a few items should confirm temperature readings. Infrared thermometers can be used to check the temperature of vacuum packed products.  Alternatively, a temperature probe  can be placed between two packs.

Dummy food such as pre-packed jelly or water can be used to establish the surface temperature of food in fridges.  To verify, core product temperatures can be taken with a thermometer fitted with a probe.  It is important to disinfect the probe before and after use to avoid cross-contamination.

Food borne illness and food borne injury are unpleasant and can be fatal.  Many food poisoning and food injury incidents have been the result of poor practices which only come to light after incidents have occurred.

Protect your business from due diligence claims by having the right checks in place and the right equipment to help.

For more information read this Butchers HACCP Guide and information available from the Food Standard Agency