Manufacturers get practical guidance

GUIDANCE HAS been published by the Chilled Food Association (CFA) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to help food business operators understand the requirements of new EC regulation.

Guidance on the 'Practical Implementation of the EC Regulation on Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs' is aimed primarily at manufacturers and retailers to help them better grasp the regulation and provide additional detail to the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) own guidance documents. The document has been published in two parts and is on the CFA and BRC websites.

It has input and support from several organisations including British Frozen Food Federation, British Meat Processors Association, Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, Health Protection Agency and Provision Trade Federation. Part A provides an overview of the requirements of the regulation including the purpose of microbiological criteria, its legal context and recommendations for food businesses. Part B gives an interpretation of the criteria including food safety criteria and process hygiene criteria. The FSA also contributed to the development of the guide and provided comment.

CFA has also published Microbiological Testing and Interpretation Guidance, which sets out how microbiological testing fits into HACCP, where sampling

should take place, and how data should be interpreted and acted upon.

Kaarin Goodburn, CFA secretary general, said the publications were a valuable resource for CFA members and nonmembers. She said there was already much confusion in the market with testing laboratories and test kit manufacturers increasingly promoting their services and products to the industry under the general banner that the new regulation required more testing. However, she said, this was not the case.

"The regulation requires no extra testing where GMP and HACCP are already in place and verif ication is carried out as it is now. Together, these two publications clarify the situation, providing information on the new law and how it should be interpreted," she said.