Food safety

Food Safety Guidelines PDF - Free download

Food safety guidelines are a list of proper food handling practices for the prevention of food contamination and the ...

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  • Food safety guidelines are a list of proper food handling practices for the prevention of food contamination and the spread of foodborne illnesses.
  • Food Safety Management Systems are established programs by food agencies designed to control food safety hazards and establish preventive and corrective actions.
  • The attention of food safety agencies has shifted to preventing food safety hazards from occurring rather than addressing them as they occur.

An effective set of food safety guidelines is an essential tool to achieve wholesome products without risking the health of consumers. Food preparation, whether in a manufacturing or home set-up, entails several safety risks. This fact tells you that proper handling and food processing is a prerequisite to serving up a delicious and safe product for consumption. Manufacturers must always be concerned with food safety as this can predict the fate of their food service establishments. Contamination of food is not new to mankind. It has been a problem that widely plagued the industry.

The majority of foodborne illness outbreaks have been attributed to poor handling practices. At least once in your life, you may have experienced mild to severe diarrhea after eating a chicken salad for dinner. Cross-contamination from food contact surfaces may have been the culprit of your relentless trip to the comfort room. Your chickens might have been cooked perfectly, but somewhere along with the food preparation; your fresh produce might have been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.
A good reminder from one of the leading authorities on food safety around the world, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, tells us that “If it is not safe, it is not food.” Such organizations are responsible for establishing food safety laws and regulations as well as food safety guidelines to protect the interest of consumers against potential harm from the food they eat.
These authorities have long built food safety management systems (FSMS) that serve as tools to ensure safe practices in food manufacturing.


Below, we walk you through the essentials of food safety. Download this food safety guidelines PDF for free.


What does food safety have to do with quality?

In this food safety guideline pdf, we talk about which types of contamination greatly affect quality. Food safety laws and sanitation guidelines can be a bit demanding. They are a series of guidelines and checklists that need to be fulfilled to render food safe for consumption. In establishing stringent food safety guidelines, the quality of food cannot be left unchecked.

When talking about quality, we always include the acceptable observable properties of the food product. Quality control in food systems maintains acceptable levels and tolerance limits while adhering to food safety management system compliance checklists. The main concerns of quality about food safety policy are food poisoning, spoilage, preservation, production, and legislations and laws.

A safe food product may not always mean that it has good quality. This fact is considered during the formation of food safety policies to set limits that would still produce acceptable qualities. In canning, the 12 D concept and processing parameters are only suitable for low acid products. They cannot be applied to products with high acid value as they will be inefficient and can be detrimental to the quality of food.

An effective food safety policy includes not only the processing itself but also the receiving and storage of raw materials. The concept of these food regulations is based on the farm-to-fork idea to ensure safety. During these inspections, three main types of contaminations are observed: physical, chemical, and biological contaminations. Varying food safety laws are implemented as a basis for the tolerance limits of these contaminations.

Food safety involves all hazards, whether chronic or acute, that may lead to the production of unsafe food. The key objective of established food safety rules is to prevent spoilage, poisoning, and other risk factors by promoting proper handling, preparation, and storage.

Learn more about why is food safety important.

  • Physical hazards

This type of contamination includes tangible objects such as dust, hair, fingernails, pieces of jewelry, paper, or pieces of metal and plastic. They can be classified based on the severity of damage they can cause when consumed by the customers. Some can cause physical injuries such as metals and glass, whereas some can be carriers of other types of contamination such as hair from rodents.

  • Chemical hazards

Contaminants under this type can include health-threatening chemicals such as cleaning agents, pesticides, heavy metals, and the likes. Chemical contaminants also include adulterants that are food-grade but are unwanted in the production of specific food products such as oils and colorants.

  • Biological hazards

Microorganisms including bacteria, molds, and yeasts that cause unwanted spoilage are considered detrimental to the health of consumers. Food safety regulations also include toxins produced by these microorganisms as health-threatening contaminants. These biological hazards can be innate to raw foods or when unclean materials come in contact with food. They are prevented through proper cooking to reduce the risk of infection. The most common biological hazards include bacterial contamination such as the bacteria Salmonella which is commonly associated with fresh poultry including egg products. Another common biological cause of foodborne diseases is E. coli contamination commonly associated with unclean drinking water.


Food safety regulations are well-planned systems

For policymakers to establish an inclusive food safety management system, science-based research is rolled out to collect information. Risk assessments are conducted to gather the information they need for efficient and effective food regulations and food safety rules. Proper, reliable, and timely information are keys to the formation of sound regulatory policies.

Perhaps the most extensive collection of food safety standards, regulations, and policies is the Codex Alimentarius Standard which is the central part of the Food Standards Programme of the FAO/WHO. Governing bodies from different countries use this compendium as a basis and a global reference for food manufacturers in establishing their production lines and food standards, as well as food safety laws and regulations. It also contributes greatly to the establishment of food safety management systems such as good manufacturing practices, ISO, and HACCP.


food safety guidelines


What are the basic food safety rules?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is actively promoting 4 safety rules in preparing food which is considered the main principles of most food safety regulations. These basic steps are the fundamentals of most food handling guidelines to achieve a safe production space and process to prevent food-borne illnesses as a result of hazardous foods. They are commonly mandatory to be posted as food safety posters along a very visible area to remind employees and person-in-charge of cleaning of their importance. 


No single space is free from pathogenic bacteria as they are everywhere, even on your skin! Cleaning your working area, utensils, food service equipment, and your hands are keys to achieving a very low microbial count to start with. Wash your hands and arms with soap before starting, when holding fresh produce and after preparation. Keeping your kitchen surfaces clean protects your processing operations from cross-contamination. In addition to this, keeping clean includes proper handwashing. Handling raw meat and then shifting to handling raw fruits or other food supplies without washing your hands with soapy water significantly promotes cross-contamination.


Cross-contamination is one of the leading delivery routes of pathogenic microorganisms. This occurs when handling raw produce, perishable food, utensils, and finished products and keeping them close to each other. Raw meat such as ground meats contains a large microbial load and needs to be separated from ingredients that will be minimally processed or even from ready-to-eat foods. This rule is similar for raw poultry products, beef, and even fresh fruits. It also applies to using separate cutting boards for cooked and uncooked foods.


Different ingredients have different suggested cooking times and minimum cooking temperatures for meat and other raw materials. It is important to acquaint yourselves with the danger zones when cooking and handling perishable food. This is especially true for meats that require a certain level of processing to be rendered safe for consumption. Correct internal temperature must be achieved and monitored using a food thermometer to maintain food safety. Cooked foods are more likely to stay fresh for longer times provided that they are held at the right and safe temperature. Monitor and record temperature readings to ensure that cooking standards are being followed. 


Temperature is a key factor in food safety guidelines. Perishable food must be kept in cold temperatures with quicker cooling within 2 hours at 40 °F or below to inhibit the growth of spoilage microorganisms. Cold foods with low microbial content tend to stay fresh longer. Food storage under freezer temperature stops further microbial and enzymatic reactions that can spoil food. Microorganisms such as enteric pathogens tend to grow faster in hot foods when compared with frozen foods.

Other basic food safety rules can also include safe thawing and correct storage times and temperatures. Basic food hygiene and proper food safety practices build up a good food safety system to protect public health. These practices can be any small aspect of food preparation such as adhering to proper cooking time, using only clean cloth towels, sanitizing cutting boards, and washing your hands properly. These simple steps contribute greatly to preventing foodborne diseases caused by hazardous foods.


Current developments in food safety and sanitation guidelines

To create a sustainable, wholesome, and safe food system, countries, particularly the USA, have shifted their focus on ensuring a safe supply through proactive measures such as preventing contamination even before it happens. This approach is the main concept behind the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which was signed into law in 2011.
The food safety laws and regulations under this act were tailored as a response to the recent understanding of foodborne illnesses. Changes to the previous guidelines were prompted by different cases of an outbreak and national disasters that required immediate actions to promote the well-being of consumers. 

Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FSMA, seven major food safety rules were established to ensure food safety and emphasize the roles of parties involved in the process. Following the food safety guidelines is mandated by the US government for all food establishments under the FDA. Here is the updated FSMA compliance checklist:

Preventive controls for human and animal food

This rule requires affected establishments such as food restaurants and manufacturing companies to come up with a food safety plan which determines potential hazards within the whole system related to the production, facility, and raw material receiving. The identified hazard must then be accompanied by a set of preventive control measures aimed at reducing or avoiding such hazards to occur in prepared foods.

Produce safety

In the Produce Safety Rule, suppliers are provided with science-based minimum specifications for growing, harvesting, packing, and delivery of raw materials to manufacturers. This rule is directed at producers and their general practices such as manure application, employee health, and training.

Accredited Third-Party Certification

Under this rule, the FDA recognizes accreditation bodies that aim to accredit third-party certification industries.

Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)

This rule acts as an aid for the FDA to confirm that foreign manufacturers uphold the specified level of food safety standards following the U.S. Safety Standards.

Sanitary Transport of Food and Feed

Concerned with logistics, this rule specifies standards for the design and maintenance of modes and routes of transportation including the conditions of transport such as the temperature of food containers, protection from contamination, and soundness of vehicles. This rule aims to protect safe food from contamination during transit.

Intentional Adulteration rule

This rule aims to prevent any potential intentional harm, which can be delivered through hazardous foods, through an established defense plan.

Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP)

This rule requires companies to secure a certification of eligibility to participate. It aims to expedite the review of importation entry of food items for importers and consumers.


5 levels of Food safety management systems (FSMS)

Food safety agencies form effective management systems which are varying in degree of stringency. In the food industry, companies are mandated to follow these systems and to ensure a sound approach to food safety. Here are the following most prominent FSMS and prerequisite programs:


  • GHP + 5S + SSOP

These systems are voluntary and are set as basic guiding principles in the manufacturing setup. These programs are collectively known as prerequisite programs or PRPs. The main objective of Good Handling Practices, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure, and the 5S concept is the implementation of a clean and organized working environment and all other aspects of food sanitation. These programs are concerned with proper facility design to prevent water and air-borne contamination, rules on proper handwashing, and even a system for better organization of work.


  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

The GMP is a food safety policy consisting of various food safety rules that ensure a consistently controlled production system including, but not limited to, training of personnel, calibrating equipment, orderly of facilities, consistency and quality of products, and good sanitation. GMP is often the backbone of every higher food regulation and safety rule.



Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is a system designed to prevent hazards during manufacturing. It is based on a scientific approach to controlling food processing, preventing failures, and assigning corrective actions to address situations where acceptable levels are breached. As such, HACCP is a set of food safety regulations that combines technical information updated with detailed procedures to evaluate and monitor the flow of food into an industry. Some industries in the US, including the juice and seafood industries as well as those under the USDA food safety guidelines, are mandated to implement HACCP plans. On the other hand, UK standards require the strict implementation of HACCP for all food businesses. Learn all the things you need to know about HACCP here at FoodDocs.


  • ISO 9000

This program is a set of food safety guidelines and policies set out to establish and implement quality management systems. A company is granted a certification of ISO 9000 when it has successfully developed and implemented effective documentation of quality system elements to maintain safe and quality productions.


  • ISO 22000

Considered as the highest degree of an efficient FSMS, ISO 22000 requires a company to apply the most stringent food regulations and food safety policies to control safety hazards regardless of their significance in the process. The ISO 22000 certification integrates the principles of HACCP, ISO 9001, and all other food safety policies to simultaneously maintain, and record quality accompanied by continuous developments.


  • FSSC 22000

Similar to ISO certification, the Food Safety System Certification 220000 requires a very strict system for managing food safety risks in food businesses. This system combines the protocols of ISO 22000, PRPs, and FSSC requirements to achieve Global Food Safety Initiative recognized standards. Food businesses that intend to increase their level of food safety systems or update their system from ISO 22000, must aim for certification under the FSSC.

Not sure which food safety management system is best for you? Whether you're a start-up or an established business, FoodDocs has got you covered. Read FoodDoc's free guide to which FSMS fits your business best.


Other important food safety management systems


The Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) is a food safety law born from the establishment of the FSMA in 2011. This food safety guideline is otherwise known as the “Preventive Controls Rule”. Under the HARPC, all food manufacturers affected by the FSMA are required to adhere to four main guidelines:

  • Identify and declare food safety hazards associated with all products and processes.
  • Implement formulated control measures to minimize the occurrence of hazards.
  • Verify control efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Conceptualize and apply effective corrective actions to deviations in a food safety plant.

Confusion may arise when it comes to the key differences between HARPC and HACCP. To put it simply, HACCP is a food safety standard, whereas HARPC is a law under the Food Safety Modernization Act. That is, HARPC is a mandatory food regulation that covers beyond the critical control points.



The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is a recognized Global Food Safety Initiative that aims to provide food safety guidelines to food retailers and protect the interest and health of consumers. Although initially only implemented in the UK, the BRC is now a recognized certification body paramount to food safety. Under the BRC, food retailers are required to adhere to HACCP, senior management commitment, quality management system, and other prerequisite programs such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). All requirements address the significant food safety concerns a retailer must monitor to provide consumers with safe products.



Another recognized Global Food Safety Initiative, the International Featured Standard (IFS) is a certification that aims to enhance brand recognition, establish or improve consumer safety and confidence, and reiterate quality and safety processing throughout the organization. The IFS certification is a food safety standard that is used to evaluate suppliers to ensure the safety and quality of products. The requirements to satisfy IFS certification include HACCP and prerequisite programs including GMP and GHP.



One of the well-recognized certification schemes, the Food Safety System Certification is a complete certification for an organization's Food Safety Management System. The evaluation is based on independent standards such as ISO 22000, ISO 9001, and specifications from prerequisite programs. At a glance, ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000 are almost similar. FSSC uses ISO 22000 as a basis but implements additional requirements for the control of operating conditions in processing. In addition, FSSC is recognized by the GFSI qualifying as one of the highest global standards.


Food safety and sanitation guidelines with FoodDocs

Food safety is a commitment to producing food products that have great quality and are safe for consumption. An effective set of restaurant food safety guidelines is an integral part of the production process which concerns suppliers, manufacturers, and the consumers themselves. The focus of any regulatory agency has now shifted to formulating food safety laws that are directed toward the prevention of food-borne illnesses rather than controlling them as it is happening. 

All food companies strive to serve quality products without any lawsuits in the future as a result of food safety policy neglect. Luckily, the best digital solution for your food safety management system worries comes as easy as just a few clicks. We're talking about the Food Safety Management System feature of FoodDocs! Our FSMS feature was built by food safety experts who have served in the food industry for a very long time and understand the problems food business owners usually have. 

Fulfill any food safety task in your checklist using our FSMS systems. As you sign-up for our services, we tailor an FSMS fit just for your business. Our suggested system is based on your answers to some basic questions about the services you offer and knowledge from our previous customers in the same field. In this way, you do not need to manually create monitoring forms, food safety checklists, and other important FSMS documents.

Our FSMS feature offers more advantages than you can think of:

  • Get automatically generated and prefilled monitoring sheets that are based on the most in-demand tasks related to your business. All that's left for you to do is verify if the generated information is within standards. 
  • All monitoring sheets and checklists are customizable.
  • Help your team members remember all food safety tasks without the notifications feature when you install the FoodDocs food safety mobile application. Never miss a task or a scheduled audit with our FSMS. Our notification system also reminds assigned personnel when any food preparation parameter is breached for immediate action. 
  • Our system is compatible with major sensor providers for a faster fill-in process for your food safety monitoring tasks.
  • Get an overview of your food safety progress using our real-time dashboard that summarizes your food safety tasks for you. This feature allows you to review which area of your food business is lacking and needs more attention.
  • Save time from micromanaging your monitoring tasks. Using our digital solution gives you +20% more free time which you can spend on other tasks for your food business.
  • Keep all food safety monitoring information in single, secured cloud storage for a more sustainable FSMS. Go paperless with FoodDocs.

Manage your team while maintaining control over food safety at all times. What's another great thing about going digital with FoodDocs is it won't even take you longer than 15 minutes to implement your new FSMS. You do not need any prior knowledge about food safety guidelines as our system complies with all known major food safety legislation depending on your location.


Download this whole food safety guideline PDF to get you started with the basics of food safety


You can also avail of our services straight by signing up for our Food Safety Management System. Get to enjoy our 14-day free trial and let us start your FSMS now.



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