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Codex60 / Jenny Scott explores the revised General Principles of Food Hygiene


In 2022 the Codex Secretariat began work on reviewing the formatting and layout of Codex texts to ensure consistency, to meet FAO and international publishing standards and to enhance readability. A digital object identifier (DOI) has also been added to standards as they are published, providing a unique reference that can support tracking and citation of each text. The project is part of the Codex Secretariat’s contribution to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Jenny Scott, United States of America, and a long-standing delegate at the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, worked on the revision of the General Principles of Food Hygiene (GPFH) and although recently retired, agreed to discuss some of the changes to this foundation Codex Code of Practice.

Jenny Scott, USA

Q. What changes have been introduced to the text?

One of the changes in the revised GPFH was to move information on the hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system from an annex into the main body of the document and to separate the document into two parts – one on good hygiene practices (GHPs) and one on HACCP.  

The revised text clearly lays out eight general principles to address food safety and suitability and provides discussion to clarify the relationship between GHPs and HACCP.

The GPFH was updated to include modern concepts not addressed in older versions, including the role of GHPs that require additional attention because they have a greater impact on food safety; the importance of food allergen management as part of food safety practices; and development of a food safety culture, which is fundamental to the successful functioning of a food hygiene system.

The text also emphasizes that food business operators (FBOs) need to be aware of hazards that may affect their food, and it provides guidance on how FBOs that may not have the expertise to do a hazard analysis can obtain information on hazards and appropriate food safety practices from external sources. The importance of validating control measures, in particular critical limits, is also emphasized in the revised text.

Q. Why were the changes introduced and how they will help?

The changes were introduced because it was recognized that we have learned a lot about control measures needed to ensure food safety and suitability since the GPFH was last revised.  Food safety issues and their root causes have highlighted the importance of certain GHPs in food safety (i.e., those that require additional attention), as well as the importance of validating critical limits and the HACCP plan. Continuing recalls due to the inadvertent presence of an allergen not on the food label have also pointed out the need to emphasize allergen management.  Including discussion about these issues in the GPFH (the fundamental Codex document describing the necessary food hygiene measures and food safety controls) should ensure that all food businesses along the food chain are aware of the food hygiene system aspects applicable to their businesses so they can implement appropriate control measures for providing consumers with food that is safe and suitable. 

Q. What I your first impression of the standard in its new layout and design?

The revised text is nicely laid out in a way that makes the document very easy to read. The use of color and bolding, putting major section headers in a column to the left of the text, and using colored lines as separators makes the sections stand out, allows for ease of locating information, and enhances the readability of the document.


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