Plans include guidelines on how to identify biological, chemical and physical hazards at each stage of the food production process, as well as pointing out activities to avoid that make hazards more likely to occur.
EFSA said it had developed “simple” food safety management systems (or FSMS) for small food businesses that are easy to implement.
The approach uses flow diagrams to explain stages of food production with accompanying questionnaires and simple tables, explaining food safety management process from control to hazard detection.
The proposed changes have been welcomed by Deutscher Fleischer-Verband (DVF) a body representing german butchers.
“[This is] another step in the right direction," a DVF spokesperson told this site.
"Food safety management for small businesses needs to be effective and manageable. We’ll have to see what the commission does next but the scientific opinion will nevertheless help with our discussions on a national level.”
“Some aspects of current food hygiene regulations can be challenging for small businesses, particularly where resources are tight or expertise is lacking,” said Marta Hugas, head of EFSA’s Biological Hazards and Contaminants unit.
“This simpler approach, which the European Commission asked us to develop, would make it easier for such operators to identify hazards and take action to counter them. It’s a practical response to a known problem that could benefit consumers and food businesses alike.”
EFSA claim the proposed system would “streamline” processes, as businesses would not require detailed knowledge of specific hazards; they only needed to be aware that biological, chemical and physical hazards might be present and that failure to take measures could expose consumers to a hazard.
Control measures to take include correct chilled storage or separation of raw and cooked meat products.
EFSA proposed the new rules as it said “many” small food retailers had trouble complying with the requirements of exciting FSMS. A combination of managerial, organisation and technical hurdles was to blame for the inability of some small businesses to apply complex hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans, EFSA said.
The classical approach of ranking and prioritising hazards has also been removed from EFSA rules.