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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the principal specialized UN agency dealing with all aspects of food quality and safety throughout each of the stages of food production, storage, transportation, processing and marketing. Work in this area is carried out by the Food Quality and Standards Service of the FAO Food and Nutrition Division. Activities include providing policy advice and executing food quality control and safety development projects, including the development of food standards and technical regulations; food quality and safety assurance programmes for the food industry; establishing national export food certification programmes; monitoring programmes for food contaminants; and conducting regional and national seminars and workshops on food control issues.

One important element of FAO's work is building the capacity of food control personnel, including government authorities and food industry personnel carrying out food quality and safety assurance programmes. Such programmes should include specific food risk control procedures such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.

In December 1994, FAO held an expert consultation on HACCP principles in food control. The experts recommended that FAO should continue to emphasize high-quality and effective food industry and government HACCP training, based on the development of a core curriculum and the harmonized text and guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

In February 1995, an ad hoc working group was formed and a core curriculum was developed for a training of trainers programme. The core curriculum recognizes the importance of the basic quality and safety controls included in the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene and good manufacturing practices as embodied in the Codex Codes of Practice as a basis for effective implementation of the HACCP system. The training programme has been tested in Thailand, Brazil, Viet Nam and Slovakia. This training manual on food quality and safety systems is a direct result of that work.

The manual is structured to provide essential information in a standardized, logical and systematic manner while adhering to effective teaching and learning strategies. It is composed of three sections. Section 1 reviews principles and methods of training; Section 2 introduces and elucidates the Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene; and Section 3 explains the HACCP system and its implementation. Each section is made up of specific training modules which can be combined and customized to meet the specific needs of the students.

FAO has prepared this manual in an effort to harmonize the approach to training in the HACCP system based on the already harmonized texts and guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. It is clear that HACCP systems can only be effective when they are a part of a broader food quality and safety programme based on the General Principles of Food Hygiene and good manufacturing practices. Consequently, these aspects of quality and safety controls are incorporated in the training materials. We invite readers' comments and suggestions for improving this manual as part of our continuing effort to provide high-quality advice and reference materials to FAO member countries.

John R. Lupien
FAO Food and Nutrition Division

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