The old SABS 049 edition three released in 2001has been under review since 2003 so the recent release of version four has been much anticipated. The new SANS 10049 details all requirements for prerequisite programmes (PRP’s) also offering much more detail.
The SANS 10049 will now be an audited standard to be used as the foundation for the SANS 10330 HACCP standard, the latter of which only had a short paragraph on PRP’s and so more clarity was required.
The technical committee responsible for the new document incorporated a range of interested parties, including government, consumer representatives, retailers and manufacturers, in developing this standard and the final document and a new revision is said to be ready as early as next year.
It is a voluntary standard that has been written in harmony with the international ISO standards, particularly, with regards to certain definitions. Companies who already have HACCP certification will have until February 2012 to implement the new standard which is, in reality, a very limited time to modify existing PRP systems.
The philosophy behind the standard is that it will cover all the hazards from environmental, human, equipment and supplies and hence is applicable to all products and processes. The definition of the ‘food handling organisation’ has been made broad to incorporate all size companies as well as all steps in the food chain. There are also two annexes on high risk foods and allergen management highlighting the increased significance of these areas in the food industry due to the new labelling legislation.
There are standard needs to be interpreted for specific businesses and one can justify exclusions based on best practice, for a specific sector. Each organisation also needs to consider other standards applicable such as Codex principles and regional requirements or international guidelines.
A new feature incorporated into the SANS 10049 is that there is greater emphasis on top management involvement. There is also an expanded section on personal hygiene which includes the need for an annual medical as opposed to only the pre-employment medical. Companies may also be surprised to learn that the elbow operated taps for hand washing will no longer be adequate and, so, costly modifications to knee or foot operated taps will be required. More interaction and verification of both pest control and cleaning contractors will also be necessary. Overall, there will be a need for more records and documentation with the aim of improving traceability and accountability.
The standard has with good intentions to reduce the frequency of food poisoning scares. With global trade and mass manufacturing, food poisoning scares have been on the rise and having the potential of harming many more people than in the past. Think back to Sudan Red contamination, melamine in milk powder or the international issue of microbial contamination. Basic PRP’s are often the underlying cause to some of these mass recalls and hence the importance of the new standard which hopes to improve and give direction and focus to the industry at large.