Online Help for Food Hygiene

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a best-before date and shelf life?

A best-before date indicates the date until which the food will retain its specific properties, nutritional value, taste and aroma. The manufacturer of a product guarantees the quality of this product until the specified date. However, this is subject to the goods being unopened and properly stored. Food may still be acceptable and fit for human consumption beyond the best-before date, but responsibility for the product and quality thereof no longer lies with the manufacturer.

If food is placed on the market after the expiry of the best-before date, e.g. it is still offered for sale in the supermarket, it must be stored separately and clearly marked up. Consumers must be able to see at a glance that these are expired products. They can make an informed choice of whether or not to buy it.

The shelf life indicates the date by which food must be consumed. If the shelf life is exceeded, the food is no longer allowed to be placed on the market. Shelf life dates are provided for example on perishable foods, such as minced meat and prepared salads.

What is a declaration of conformity or a declaration of compliance?

By means of this certificate, manufacturers of food contact materials, e.g. packaging, attest that their materials comply with the applicable food regulations. Information must also be provided on suitability with important specifications on possible use, as well as general information on compliance testing performed.

The exact requirements of the EU are set out in Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food, and Regulation (EU) 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food.

What does contamination mean?

Contamination means being infected with an impurity. Contaminated food refers to products that contain unwanted germs, as they endanger human health.

What is cross-contamination?

This means the direct or indirect transfer of germs from a contaminated foodstuff to an uncontaminated foodstuff.
In terms of food hygiene and food safety, this is understood as the accidental transfer of unwanted microorganisms.

What is re-contamination?

This means the re-transfer of germs to food for example that has already been heated through (e.g. if cooked meat is processed on the same board on which raw meat was previously handled and which has not been cleaned).

What is meant by direct and indirect contamination?

Direct contamination is present if germs are transferred through direct contact with food (direct touching). Germs may be transferred when food is touched, leading to direct contamination.

Indirect contamination is present, if germs are transferred from one food to another via an implement or tool, such as a knife, board or slicing machine. Indirect contamination can also take place when food is touched by hands, if the hands have not been properly washed between steps involving the handling of different foods.

What does non-toxic mean?

Non-toxic means non-poisonous.

What does toxic mean?

Toxic means poisonous.

What does "as required" mean?

In terms of cleaning and disinfecting, "as required" means that additional cleaning and disinfecting activities are required if equipment and surfaces are dirty outside the times of the cleaning plan.

What does CCP stand for?

CCP stands for Critical Control Point.
A CCP may be present if a step or process can be controlled and a corrective action can be taken to prevent the existing hazard, avoid it or reduce it to an acceptable level. It must therefore be possible to demonstrate that the hazard has been eliminated or reduced. An example of a CCP hazard is a heating process. If the set temperatures and times are not achieved in the heating process, you have the option of re-heating.

What does HACCP stand for?

HACCP is the abbreviation for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point.
An HACCP system involves setting out all the processes, identifying hazards at each respective process step, classifying the probability of occurrence of the hazard and establishing the risk. In the end, critical limits are set and measures defined if the critical limits are exceeded.

What does "adverse effect / change" mean?

Any negative change in the food that may even pose a risk to the health of the consumer.
The legally binding definition in accordance with section 2(1) of the German Food Hygiene Regulations is as follows:
"Adverse effect: Unappetising or other kind of deterioration in the satisfactory hygienic condition of food, for example due to microorganisms, contamination, weather conditions, aromas, temperatures, gases, vapours, smoke, aerosols, animal pests, human and animal excretions, waste, wastewater, detergents, pesticides, veterinary drugs, biocidal products or unsuitable handling and preparation procedures".

What are product specifications?

Product specifications are a detailed description of the individual product. They should include the list of ingredients, a sensory description (appearance, aroma, taste), information on nutritional values, best-before date / shelf life and specifications for storage and transportation.

What does "cold chain" mean?

Food, the shelf life and quality of which depends on being kept permanently refrigerated, must be refrigerated without interruption. In other words, the prescribed temperatures must not be exceeded from the time at which the food is chilled or frozen, until the time at which it is supplied to the end consumer. The system for complying with the corresponding temperatures is referred to as the cold chain. Each company that manufactures, handles, sells or processes chilled or frozen products therefore forms part of the cold chain.

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