The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is a set of seven principles that provides a structured and disciplined approach to monitoring and maintaining good hygiene levels.
In the meat sector HACCP can help to prevent or reduce meat-borne microbiological hazards such as salmonella, E.coli O157, and campylobacter which cannot be detected by visual inspection. Smaller meat and poultry plants have a further year to prepare for implementation.
The new system will play an important part in meeting the Food Standards Agency's target of reducing the incidence of foodborne illness over five years.
Suzi Leather, Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said:
'The Agency has worked closely with industry to support the implementation of HACCP. It is providing guidance to make the process as easy and smooth as possible, particularly for smaller plants over the coming year. The introduction of HACCP is in addition to, not instead of, the traditional methods of visually inspecting meat, and enforcement by the Meat Hygiene Service will continue. Ultimately HACCP can only help to improve food safety, which in turn means improving consumer confidence - and that will be good for business.'
Twenty per cent of licensed premises will be formally required to introduce the new controls from today.
Many of the larger plants - which handle 70 per cent of UK throughput - already have HACCP in place.