Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) in meat plants

HACCP is an internationally recognised way of managing food safety and protecting consumers. All food business operators except farmers and growers are required by EU food hygiene legislation, to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles.

EU Regulation 852/2004 (Article 5) requires food business operators, including meat plant operators to implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles. This legislation replaced the Meat (HACCP) Regulations 2002.

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is internationally accepted as the system of choice for food safety management. It is a preventative approach to food safety based on the following seven principles:

  • identify any hazards that must be prevented eliminated or reduced
  • identify the critical control points (CCPs) at the steps at which control is essential
  • establish critical limits at CCPs
  • establish procedures to monitor the CCPs
  • establish corrective actions to be taken if a CCP is not under control
  • establish procedures to verify whether the above procedures are working effectively
  • establish documents and records to demonstrate the effective application of the above measures

The HACCP approach provides a systematic way of identifying food safety hazards and making sure that they are being controlled day-in, day-out. This involves the following four steps: Plan, Do, Check. These steps are described in more detail below.

Plan what needs to be done to maintain food safety and write it down.
It is particularly important to:
  • minimise the likelihood of food poisoning bacteria contaminating meat and associated products
  • avoid physical and chemical contamination of meat
  • reduce the potential for growth of food poisoning bacteria on meat and associated products
  • minimise the potential for cross contamination of ready-to-eat foods by food poisoning bacteria on meat during further processing or in the kitchen.
Hazards Microbiological, Chemical, Physical
Controls Good Hygiene Practices Maintenance, Cleaning, Pest control, Training, Personal hygiene, Traceability, Waste Management, Wrapping & Packaging, Transport
Operational hygiene controls Raw Materials, Animal welfare & transport, Slaughter, Dressing, Storage, Cutting, Processing
Documentation HACCP plans, Staff instructions, Monitoring and Corrective action procedures, Daily records
2. DO
Do what you planned to do to maintain food safety.
Documentation (see above)
Check that you are doing what you planned to do to maintain food safety and write down what was checked and when.
incl. Micro testing
Documentation (see above)
4. ACT
Act to correct any food safety problems and write down what has been done about the problem and when.
Corrective actions Documentation (see above)

Some more information on hazards, controls, documentation and HACCP training can be found below.


The seven principles aim to focus attention on the identification and control of microbiological, as well as chemical and physical food safety hazards during production. The hazard assessment and the regular monitoring of critical control measures must be documented to provide the basis for audit checks and may provide evidence of due diligence in the event of legal action.

In meat plants HACCP plans will focus on control measures that can reduce the likelihood of contamination of meat from microbiological hazards, such as Salmonella, E.coli O157 and Campylobacter, during production. These meat-borne pathogens can be carried by healthy animals and cannot be detected by sight or smell.

Although thorough cooking kills most bacteria, meat may be handled by lots of people before it is cooked and the bacteria will spread to other foods that may not be cooked. Bacteria multiply very quickly, especially in warm conditions. Retailers and consumers need to take precautions, including temperature controls and keeping raw meat and cooked meat and other ready to eat foods separate.

Conscientious implementation of HACCP principles by plant operators demonstrates their commitment to food safety; improves employee awareness of their role in protecting consumers, and emphasises management's responsibility for the safe production of meat.


Food safety management is achieved by a combination of good hygiene practices (legal requirements for which are in Regulation 852/2004) and operational hygiene procedures (legal requirements for meat production are in Regulation 853/2004).

Guidance on these legal requirements may be found in the Guide to Food Hygiene and Other Regulations for the UK Meat Industry (see Meat Industry Guide below).


Documentation is an important part of food safety management. Records should be easy to keep up to date as they provide evidence of the operator's thinking and decisions. Where visual monitoring is necessary, for example to ensure carcasses are free of visible faecal contamination, records can be limited to 'exception reporting'. This means making a record only when there is a problem or something unusual happens and noting the corrective action taken as a result. See Model Documents and Food Safety Management Diary below.

Model Documents

Suggested model documents, which can be found at the link towards the end of this page, are available for food business operators to use or adapt to help manage food safety issues such as maintenance, cleaning, staff training and temperature checks.

Food Safety Management (FSM) Diary for Meat Producers

The dairy has been produced for meat producers to keep important information about the hygienic operation of their food business for the year. The diary can be found at the link towards the end of this page.

HACCP training

Food business operators need an understanding of HACCP principles so that they can set up and maintain HACCP-based procedures. Staff should also be aware of the importance of the procedures they carry out in minimising the spread of food-borne hazards, which may be biological (e.g. E.coli O157 or campylobacter); physical (e.g. wool, metal); or chemical (e.g. veterinary medicine or cleaning product residues).

Meat plant HACCP manual and CD-ROM

The manual was produced in 2002 to provide a clear and colourful training guide on HACCP principles and their application. It was developed with industry assistance and the material was trialled with small businesses during a pilot plant study. The manual includes the syllabus for the 'Meat Plant Manager's Hygiene & HACCP' course described above, and so will be of interest to trainers. A CD-ROM version of the manual is available.

Further guidance

The Food Standards Agency has also produced the following guidance material for meat plant operators:

  • the Meat Industry Guide (MIG) – this guide to the legislation includes a chapter on HACCP, with a HACCP plan template and a generic HACCP plan (selected steps for slaughter and cutting)
  • a short guide to completing a HACCP Plan – explains how to use the HACCP Plan template
  • the Meat Plant HACCP Guidance Pack – contains several of the documents described above:
    • a short guide to completing a HACCP Plan
    • Meat Industry Guide HACCP chapter
    • Model Documents
    • Food Safety Management Diary

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