By Joselyn B. Mwine
Every person has the right to consume food that is safe and high quality. Hazards related to food safety are known as biological, chemical and physical hazards, which, if present in food, may cause injury or illness to the human being.
Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are businesses whose size and revenue are below a certain threshold.
The strategic use of Standards can make a significant difference to the annual turnover of an MSME, sometimes the difference between success and failure.
For MSMEs in the food sector, it is important that they demonstrate that the food or food products are fit for human consumption. One of the ways to demonstrate this is by implementing HACCP.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is defined as “a system, which identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety” (FAO). HACCP is a proactive concept. It helps to ensure that food is safe from harvest to consumption (‘from farm to fork’).
Each step involved in food production, i.e. purchasing, receiving, storage, processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution up to the point of consumption is subjected to hazard analysis and necessary controls are introduced.
The premise is simple: if each step of the process is carried out correctly, the end product will be safe.
The HACCP system consists of seven principles, which give an outline of how to establish, implement and maintain a HACCP plan.
Seven principles of the HACCP system
ACCP is not a stand-alone system. Good hygiene practices and other prerequisites for food processing as well as strong management commitment are also necessary. HACCP is not a substitute for these. If your company produces a variety of food products, you should develop a separate HACCP plan for each product, abiding by the seven principles outlined above.
Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) adopted the standard US ISO 22000:2018, Food safety management systems — Requirements for any organization in the food chain (2nd Edition) which incorporates HACCP principles.
Benefits of HACCP for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the food processing business
Standards help businesses of any size and sector reduce costs, increase productivity and access new markets.
For small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), standards can help to:
- Build customer confidence that your products are safe and reliable
- Meet regulation requirements, at a lower cost
- Reduce costs across all aspects of your business
- Gain market access across the world
The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards