|Food, Nutrition and Agriculture 15 - Food safety and trade (1995)|
|Food safety through HACCP - The FAO approach|
The objectives of FAOs HACCP work include promoting good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and the HACCP system through the use of the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene and other Codex codes of hygienic practice. FAO is working to enhance the role of science and risk analysis in the development of HACCP systems and to create a framework for a harmonized approach to the application of HACCP for determining equivalence of food safety control programmes.
There is worldwide interest in implementation of the HACCP system by the food industry and food control regulatory agencies. A common understanding about terminology and approaches for application will greatly enhance its adoption and will lead to a harmonized approach to food safety by countries all over the world. Many countries have integrated or are in the process of integrating the HACCP system into their regulatory mechanisms, In many countries, application of the HACCP system to imported foods may also become mandatory. As a result, there is a tremendous demand for training in the HACCP system, particularly in developing countries, as well as for the development and assembly of reference materials to support this training, It is a matter of urgency to provide the necessary clarification with regard to the application of the HACCP system.
Recognizing the importance of HACCP in food control, the importance of improving the safety of food in international trade and the need to address the issues identified above, FAO convened an Expert Technical Meeting in Vancouver, Canada from 12 to 16 December 1994 to discuss the use of HACCP principles in food control, The meeting noted that training in the application and implementation of the HACCP system was of utmost importance and recommended that FAO consider assuming the leadership role with respect to conducting high-quality and effective industry and government HACCP training. In their report, the experts also recommended that FAO should establish an inventory of available HACCP models and training reference materials and prepare core curricula for practical HACCP training courses, The training should be focused on developing the skills and methods necessary for training government and industry trainees in the prerequisites of the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene and the principles and steps in implementing HACCP, Further, the core curricula should be modified to reflect cultural sensitivities and to address infrastructural problems in the specific countries.
In this context, and recognizing the need to standardize good manufacturing practice and HACCP training, FAO has embarked upon a plan to further collaboration and partnerships with regional and national counterparts, and where possible with other international organizations and the food industry, to review the needs of developing countries in implementing the HACCP system and to establish workable strategies. The plan includes the development of core curricula for the appropriate training of personnel at various levels in industry and government; the development of an HACCP instructors handbook and technical reference materials; and the development of technical documents related to the application of risk assessment methods to HACCP and other food safety systems.
FAO is currently preparing a training package that harmonizes the approach to GMPs and the application of the HACCP system, A list of training materials and references is being compiled on the application of HACCP and GMPs to support training regarding the General Principles of Food Hygiene and the Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System. FAO aims to provide an effective mechanism for delivering the appropriate core curricula and level of knowledge to selected segments of industry, to individuals involved to varying degrees with the preparation, monitoring, administration and verification of HACCP plans and to food control regulators, FAO is developing a programme to train the trainers who are in a position to train others and to apply the knowledge gained and hence to contribute to self-reliance, particularly in developing countries.
Training in Thailand
In keeping with the training recommendations from the Expert Technical Meeting, FAO convened a temporary technical working group which met in Rome from 13 to 17 February 1995 to plan a Training the Trainers Course in HACCP for Developing Countries. The temporary technical working group consisted of representatives from the Centre of Export Inspection and Certification of Agricultural Products (CEICAP) of the Thailand Department of Agriculture; the Thai food industry; and international experts in food sanitation and hygiene, HACCP and training techniques, The working group prepared a tentative agenda for a course called Training the Trainers in the Application of HACCP, to be held in Thailand.
The meeting participants agreed that the objectives of the training should be to promote a common approach to the application of HACCP based on the Codex guidelines and where possible to train trainers with sufficient skills in the theory and application of HACCP to train others. They sought to establish agreement of terminology and basic understanding of HACCP principles and to impart to the trainees those skills necessary for the application of HACCP to food safety in both the public and private sectors, Furthermore, they wished to standardize the programme of prerequisites to the successful application of HACCP based on the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene and to share knowledge and practical experience.
Representatives of CEICAP and of the Thai food industry agreed to pilot-test the training programme once developed.
The training course, held from 31 July to 11 August 1995 in Petchburi, Thailand, provided training to 16 participants, The training also involved presentations from the participants during and at the conclusion of the course to demonstrate their assimilation of the technical and training material. It was concluded that the course was effective in achieving the objectives and that the course format including lectures, exercises and on-site visits resulted in an effective transfer of technical information and training knowledge to the participants. This was verified by the knowledge and abilities demonstrated by the participants during the individual presentations at the conclusion of the training course.
Codex Alimentarius Commission. 1995a. Recommended International Code of Practice - General Principles of Food Hygiene (CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 2 (1985)). In Codex Alimentarius, Vol. 1 B, General requirements (food hygiene), p, 1 -20, Rome, FAO/WHO.
Codex Alimentarius Commission. 1995b. Guidelines for the Application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) System (CAC/GL 18-1993). In Codex Alimentarius, Vol. 1 B, General requirements (food hygiene), p. 21-30, Rome, FAO/WHO.