Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 allows for the development of guides to good practice for hygiene of foodstuffs and also for guides regarding the application of HACCP principles (guides to good practice). Food business operators may use these guides on a voluntary basis as an aid to compliance with food hygiene requirements.
According to Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004, two types of guides may be developed depending on the level at which they are established, i.e. national or EU-level guides.
National Guides to Good Practice
Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs sets out the requirements for developing national guides. It requires that when national guides to good practice are developed, they must be developed and disseminated by food business sectors:
(a) in consultation with representatives of parties whose interests may be substantially affected, such as competent authorities and consumer groups;
(b) have regard to relevant codes of practice of the Codex Alimentarius;
(c) when they concern primary production and those associated operations listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004, they must have regard to the recommendations set out in Part B of that Annex.
Guides may also be developed under the aegis of a national standards institute. In Ireland, this is the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).
When national guides are developed, they have to be assessed by national authorities in order to ensure the suitability of their contents with EU legislation and their practicability for the sectors to which they refer.
Assessment of National Guides to Good Practice
In Ireland, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the relevant competent authority assess national guides and a formal recommendation for recognition of guides is sent to the relevant government department. That government department then makes the decision to recognise a guide or not, and if recognised, the guide will be forwarded to the European Commission as required in Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 and will be placed on the EU Register where it is available to both national authorities and food businesses. The EU has a Register of National Guides.
The Irish National Guides currently on the EU register are:
- Hygiene in the catering sector (Irish Standard 340:2007, NSAI publication )
- Hygiene in food retailing and wholesaling (Irish Standard 341:2007, NSAI publication)
- Packaged Groundwater (Irish Standard 432:2010, NSAI publication)
- Safe Catering – your guide to making food safely (FSAI publication)
This guidance document is intended for the food industry. However, it only applies to food business sectors developing guides for food chain activities that come under the scope of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, 1998 as amended. It contains a recommended process for the development of guides to good practice for hygiene and for the application of HACCP principles. This guidance document lays down the preferred process for interaction between the FSAI or the appropriate competent authority and the food industry.
EU Guides to Good Practice
The procedure for the development of EU Guides is set out in Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004. The EU has endorsed the following EU Guides to Good Practice:
- Guide to the Principles of Good Practice for the Microbiological Classification and Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Production and Relaying Areas with regard to Regulation 854/2004
- EU Guide to good hygiene practices specific to wholesale market management in the European Union
- Guide to good hygiene practices for Packaged Water in Europe
- European Natural Sausage Casings Association (ENSCA) Community Guide to good practice for Hygiene and the application of the Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) principles in the production of natural sausage casings
- Guide to good manufacturing practice for "liquid, concentrated, frozen and dried egg products" used as food ingredients (non-ready to eat egg products).