Food safety

Strategies for implementing HACCP in small and/or less developed businesses, a WHO consultation, the Hague, 16-19 June 1999


Background and objectives (from report)


Worldwide, it is recognized that the application of the HACCP system to food production and preparation has clear benefits and the potential of enhancing food safety and preventing many cases of foodborne diseases. These benefits have been outlined in Section 5.1 of this report as well as in other WHO documents. While the application of HACCP is making headway in large food industries, SLDBs have, for different reasons, experienced difficulties in implementing HACCP (see Section 5). However, the importance of enhancing food safety in SLDBs in strategies for preventing foodborne illnesses cannot be overemphasized.

The problems of implementing HACCP in small industries and in developing countries have been the subject of extensive discussions at meetings of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH). It has been recognized that there is a need to develop a strategy for implementing the HACCP system or an equivalent risk-based system in industries where the food safety management system is not fully developed and resources are scarce. The Joint FAO/WHO Consultation on the Role of Government Agencies in Assessing HACCP (Geneva, 2-6 June 1998) also acknowledged the need to work on facilitating and evaluating the implementation of HACCP in small businesses. At the Thirtieth Session of the CCFH, a working group chaired by the Netherlands was requested to review the problems of this sector and develop specific recommendations on this issue. A meeting was held in The Hague, in April 1998, in which delegates from 12 countries from different parts of the world, representatives of the Codex Secretariat, WHO and the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods participated. The meeting discussed the problems of developing countries and small food industries and identified a number of barriers to the implementation of the HACCP system that warrant reflection and recommendations for ways to overcome them.

It was recognized that, regardless of the stage of development of a country, small businesses usually have greater difficulties in implementing HACCP and that the Codex Hazard Analysis and Critical control Point System and Guidelines for its Application is developed from the perspective of large food industries and not well-adapted to small businesses. It was concluded that governments and professional trade bodies have a clear role to play in facilitating the implementation of HACCP in small businesses and other food businesses with less developed food safety management systems (referred to as less developed businesses), and that there is a need to develop specific guidelines for them.

The outcome of the meeting was presented at the Thirty-first Session of the CCFH (Orlando, 26- 30 October 1998) and led to an extensive discussion on the subject. Delegates from many countries and representatives of FAO and WHO recognized the importance of the subject and supported further work in this field, in particular the development of guidelines for the application of HACCP in SLDBs.


The objectives of the Consultation were to:

  • Review the difficulties experienced when applying the HACCP system in SLDBs.
  • Consider the initiatives and approaches taken by different governments or sectors in assisting SLDBs in implementing HACCP.
  • Define the role of governments and professional trade bodies in assisting SLDBs in implementing HACCP.
  • Develop a strategy for implementing HACCP in SLDBs, considering different practical options.