The Food Safety Glossary
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With over 30 key terms explained in detail, this comprehensive glossary covers all the essential food safety concepts, regulations, processes, and best practices. From HACCP to FSMA and ISO 22000, it’s the handy reference guide for anyone in the food industry.

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  1. Allergen: A substance that can cause an allergic reaction when consumed by individuals with specific allergies. Common food allergens include nuts, dairy, eggs, and gluten.

  2. Audit: A systematic evaluation or examination of food production processes, facilities, and documentation to ensure compliance with food safety standards.


  1. Codex Alimentarius: A collection of international standards, guidelines, and codes of practice for food safety and quality established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

  2. Control Measure: A specific action or procedure implemented to manage and mitigate food safety hazards.

  3. Critical Control Point (CCP): A point in the food production process where control measures are applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce identified hazards.

  4. Cross-Contamination: The transfer of harmful microorganisms or contaminants from one food product to another, often through improper handling.


  1. Documentation: The process of creating, maintaining, and organizing records, documents, and data related to food safety practices.


  1. FDA (Food and Drug Administration): The U.S. government agency responsible for regulating and ensuring the safety of food, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals.

  2. Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA): U.S. legislation that requires clear labeling of major food allergens on packaged food products.

  3. Food Safety: The practice of ensuring that food products are free from contamination, safe for consumption, and do not pose health risks to consumers.

  4. Food Safety Management System (FSMS): A structured approach to managing food safety throughout the food production and distribution chain.

  5. Foodborne Illness: Diseases or illnesses caused by consuming food or beverages contaminated with harmful microorganisms or substances.

  6. FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act): U.S. legislation aimed at improving food safety by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness outbreaks to preventing them.


  1. HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point): A systematic approach to food safety that identifies and manages hazards throughout the food production process.

  2. Health and Safety: A broader concept that includes the well-being and safety of both consumers and employees involved in food production and service.


  1. ISO 22000: An international standard specifying requirements for a food safety management system, helping organizations ensure the safety of food products.


  1. Law: Legal regulations and statutes governing food safety, including labeling, inspections, and enforcement.

  2. Legal Compliance: Ensuring adherence to food safety laws, regulations, and standards.


  1. Natasha’s Law: A UK law requiring businesses to label all pre-packaged food products with a complete list of ingredients, including allergen information.


  1. Pathogens: Microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, that can cause foodborne illnesses.

  2. Preventive Controls: Measures and practices required by FSMA to prevent food safety hazards.


  1. Quality Assurance: Measures taken to ensure that food products meet quality and safety standards.


  1. Recall: The process of removing and recalling food products from the market due to safety concerns.

  2. Regulatory Compliance: Meeting the legal requirements and standards set by food safety and health authorities.


  1. Safety Management System: A comprehensive approach to managing safety, encompassing policies, procedures, and practices to ensure a safe food production environment.

  2. Sanitation: Cleaning and disinfection practices aimed at maintaining a hygienic food production environment.

  3. Supplier Control: Establishing measures to ensure that ingredients and materials sourced from external suppliers meet safety standards.

  4. Supply Chain Management: Oversight and control of the flow of materials, ingredients, and products from suppliers to consumers, with a focus on food safety.


  1. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture): A U.S. federal agency responsible for regulating and inspecting meat, poultry, and egg products.

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HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a systematic approach to identifying and managing food safety hazards. It involves assessing hazards, establishing critical control points, setting control limits, and monitoring procedures. HACCP is internationally recognized for enhancing food safety.

Major food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Labeling and proper handling of these allergens is critical to avoid adverse reactions in consumers.

Cross-contamination occurs when pathogens or allergens are transferred between foods through improper handling, storage, or preparation. It can be prevented through proper sanitation, separating foods during storage and preparation, and following good manufacturing practices.

“Best by” dates indicate optimum quality but don’t relate to food safety. “Use by” dates refer to safety and are the last date recommended for use to ensure quality.

Hand washing helps prevent transferring pathogens between foods or from surfaces to food. Key times to wash hands include before/after handling food, after touching dirty surfaces, after using the restroom, etc.

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