Department of microbiology microbial food technology group a diploma in quality assurance in microbiology diploma

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Basic principles of HACCP

There are seven discrete activities that are necessary to establish, implement and maintain a HACCP plan, and these are referred to as the 'seven principles' in the Codex Guideline (1997).

The seven principles are[1]:

Principle 1
Conduct a hazard analysis.

Identify hazards and assess the risks associated with them at each step in the commodity system. Describe possible control measures.

Principle 2
Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs)

A critical control point is a step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard, or reduce it to an acceptable level. The determination of a CCP can be facilitated by the application of a decision tree, such as the one given in Appendix IV.

Principle 3
Establish critical limits.

Each control measure associated with a CCP must have an associated critical limit which separates the acceptable from the unacceptable control parameter.

Principle 4
Establish a monitoring system

Monitoring is the scheduled measurement or observation at a CCP to assess whether the step is under control, i.e. within the critical limit(s) specified in Principle 3.

Principle 5
Establish a procedure for corrective action, when monitoring at a CCP indicates a deviation from an established critical limit.

Principle 6
Establish procedures for verification to confirm the effectiveness of the HACCP plan.

Such procedures include auditing of the HACCP plan to review deviations and product dispositions, and random sampling and checking to validate the whole plan.

Principle 7
Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application

Application of HACCP to mycotoxin control

Once tasks 1 to 5 have been completed the following will be in place: a HACCP team, a Description and Intended Use table, and a verified Commodity Flow Diagram. This will provide information on a specific commodity from a unique source, and this information is required to complete the hazard analysis. See the case studies in Chapter 3 for examples of implementation, including that of stages 1 to 5.

Task 6 - Mycotoxin hazard analysis and identification of possible control measures

Hazard Analysis

a) Identification of mycotoxin hazard

For a given commodity system in a particular location, the HACCP team need to first consider which, if any, of the mycotoxins known to constitute a food safety hazard are likely to be present.

Over 300 mycotoxins are known, but only a relatively few of these are widely accepted as presenting a significant food or animal feed safety risk. These hazardous mycotoxins are listed in Tables 1 and 2 in Chapter 1. Of these only the following mycotoxins have regulatory limits set by one or more countries: the aflatoxins (including aflatoxin M1), ochratoxin A, zearalenone, patulin, ergot alkaloids, and deoxynivalenol. Guideline limits exist for fumonisin B1 and regulatory limits are likely to be set in the near future. The regulatory limits are taken as the target levels and should be included in the Product Description table. Mycotoxin limits can also be set by the customer in specific contracts and it is possible that these may include mycotoxins not subject to regulatory limits.

The risk of a particular mycotoxin hazard should be estimated using well established data on the relative susceptibilities of commodities to given mycotoxins and the climatic conditions required for the mycotoxins to be produced. The EU has identified the following animal feed ingredients, and their products, as being highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination: maize, groundnut cake, cottonseed cake, babassu, palm kernel cake and copra cake. The EU has also identified the following foodstuffs as highly susceptible to aflatoxin contamination: dried figs and other dried fruit, groundnuts, pistachios and other edible nuts and cereals. These commodities are specified in the respective EC regulations (1525/98 amending regulation 194/97). Maize grown in temperate climates would be less likely to be contaminated with aflatoxin, but could be contaminated with trichothecene mycotoxins or fumonisin B1. Although published mycotoxin survey data exists for many commodities, it is important that surveillance studies are performed if mycotoxin data is lacking for a particular commodity, or for production in a particular climatic zone.

b) Identification of steps in the Commodity Flow Diagram (CFD) where mycotoxin contamination is most likely to occur

Once the mycotoxin hazard(s) has been identified, each step in the CFD must be considered in turn and the likelihood of mycotoxin contamination occurring must be assessed. Usually published scientific data will be available to act as a guide, but it may be necessary to commission a study to determine, or confirm that the correct steps have been identified. The situation may change from year to year, and season to season, so there will need to be an element of mycotoxin surveillance in the HACCP plan.

An important fact to establish is whether pre-harvest contamination with mycotoxins is likely or whether contamination occurs primarily post-harvest. Mycotoxins produced by Fusarium spp, such as fumonisin B1 are invariably produced pre-harvest, but climatic conditions effect the degree of blight and the resultant level of mycotoxin contamination. Aflatoxins can be produced both pre-harvest and post-harvest and climatic conditions can have a significant bearing: drought stress favours pre-harvest contamination, whereas post-harvest handling during the rainy season favours post-harvest aflatoxin contamination.

It is rarely possible to be certain that pre-harvest mycotoxin levels are below regulatory or target levels in the commodity system, so post-harvest mycotoxin control measures can often only prevent or reduce ADDITIONAL contamination, rather than prevent the hazard completely. Consequently it is often necessary to introduce a segregation step to remove any batches containing an unacceptable level of mycotoxin.

c) Possible Mycotoxin Control Measures

The most effective mycotoxin control measures is to dry the commodity such that the water activity (aw) is too low to support mould growth and/or prevent mycotoxin production. To prevent the growth of most moulds the aw needs to be £ 0.70, which translates to a moisture content of approximately 14% for maize and 7.0% for groundnuts at 20°C (the corresponding moisture content decreases as the temperature increases). Each toxigenic mould has its own minimum water activity for growth and mycotoxin production and these translate into moisture contents for each commodity. These moisture contents are termed 'safe' and would be the critical limit for the control measure.

It is important to specify a target 'safe' moisture content with a maximum as well as an average value, e.g. 14% no part exceeding 15%. If only an average value is specified it may conceal a large range of moisture contents within the batch and the commodity would not be safe from mould growth and mycotoxin contamination. A drying process is required which dries evenly and the critical limits must be set bearing this in mind. Validation of such a CCP must involve moisture determination of multiple samples.

If the commodity is at an 'unsafe' moisture content for longer than 48 hours, then mould can grow and mycotoxins be produced. Hence limiting the time that the commodity spends in the 'unsafe' moisture content window to less than 48 hours is a control measure. This explains why timely sun-drying can sometimes be safer than delayed mechanical drying. Two days on a drying floor with occasional turning can often achieve the target 'safe' moisture content, whereas a back-log at the mechanical drier can result in the critical limit of 48 hours not being met.

Once produced, it is not usually possible to remove mycotoxins, other than by physical separation (grading) techniques. To apply this type of control measure, representative samples of batches of commodity are collected and tested for selected mycotoxins. Only those batches containing less than the critical limit of mycotoxin, as specified in official regulations, are accepted. For some commodities, such as blanched groundnuts, colour sorters may be effective in rejecting individual high-aflatoxin nuts and accumulating low-aflatoxin nuts, and may be classified as a control measure.

There are a few examples where effective chemical detoxification is possible, such as ammoniation of certain animal feed ingredients and refining of vegetable oils. These are control measures that would also be suitable for application at a critical control point for aflatoxin, but only for the specified commodities.

It is essential that GAP, GSP, and GMP pre-requisites are in place, and simply ensuring that this is the case can significantly reduce the risk of the mycotoxin hazard. Examples of procedures which fall within the scope of these pre-requisites include: irrigation, insect control, use of resistant varieties, and use of pallets in store.

Task 7 - Determine Critical Control Points (CCPs)

Determination of CCPs can be achieved using a well designed decision tree, if necessary, to supplement the knowledge and experience of the HACCP team (see Appendix IV). Each step in the CFD is considered in turn, and the questions answered in sequence. It should be noted that it is necessary to be able to answer Yes to Question 1 (Do preventative control measures exist?) before a CCP can be established. The Codex 1997 definition of a control measure is any action and activity that can be used to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard, or reduce it to an acceptable level.

There are commodity systems, such as the production of apple juice (Case study 5), where control measures are possible at a number of steps, and each is capable of achieving a known percentage reduction in the level of mycotoxin. It is possible, therefore, to calculate the acceptable level of patulin at each step and perform validation. If the risk of the acceptable level of mycotoxin being exceeded is considered to be sufficiently low, then the HACCP team may determine each of the steps as CCPs.

Task 8 - Establish critical limits for each CCP

When the control measure is segregation based on mycotoxin analysis, then the critical limit will often be set at the acceptable level, which in turn will be set at, or below, the regulatory mycotoxin limit. Acceptable levels, and any associated critical limits, can sometimes be set higher than a regulatory limit, provided that a subsequent step can guarantee to attain the acceptable level of hazard in the final product.

For control measures that involve drying to a 'safe' moisture content, the parameter that will be measured, and for which critical limits will be set, will usually be parameters such as the temperature of the drier and the dwell time, e.g. for a continuous flow drier the critical limit for temperature could be 80 +/- 2°C and the critical limit for dwell time could be 20 +/- 1 minute.

Critical limits for chemical detoxification could be the temperature and pressure of the reaction vessel and the dwell time.

Task 9 - Establish a monitoring system for each CCP

The monitoring system must be a scheduled measurement, usually of a basic parameter such as temperature or time, to detect any deviation from the critical limits.

When segregation of acceptable and unacceptable batches is required in the agricultural system, for example at a secondary trader, then rapid testing procedures are needed to test incoming batches.

A number of semi-quantitative immunoaffinity rapid test kits are available which work to a stated target level, eg 5 or 20 µk/kg of the appropriate mycotoxin. Here the critical limit would normally be the presence or absence of a coloured derivative. More traditional mini-column and TLC dilution to extinction techniques can still be useful for segregation of batches at the factory gate, and for these the presence or absence of a blue fluorescent band or spot is the critical limit.

Task 10 - Establish a corrective action

There are two sorts of corrective action. The first is action to regain control. For instance if a critical limit for a moisture content is not attained, then the corrective action could be to check the specification of the drier and effect repairs, or perhaps to increase the temperature setting or the dwell time. The second type of corrective action is to isolate the product produced whilst the CCP was out of control and amend the product disposition, by either discarding or down-grading it, or re-processing it if this is appropriate.

Task 11 - Establish verification procedures

At regular, specified, intervals the complete HACCP plan should be verified by checking that the levels of mycotoxin in the final product are within acceptable levels. If this is found not to be the case, then immediately trouble-shooting should be carried out to identify the step at which the hazard has become out of control. Critical limits may need to be amended, or a new control measure may need to be validated and introduced. Similarly, if a review of deviations and product dispositions indicated an unacceptable degree of control at a particular CCP, then revisions will need to be made.

Task 12 - Establish documentation and record keeping

Standard HACCP documentation and record keeping is appropriate, but the complexity of the records should reflect the sophistication of the step in the commodity system.

9.Explain the Cleaning and Disinfection in detail.

Cleaning and Disinfection

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. In most cases, cleaning with soap and water is adequate. It removes dirt and most of the germs. However, in other situations disinfecting provides an extra margin of safety.

You should disinfect areas where there are both high concentrations of dangerous germs and a possibility that they will be spread to others. That is because disinfectants, including solutions of household bleach, have ingredients that destroy bacteria and other germs. While surfaces may look clean, many infectious germs may be lurking around. Given the right conditions some germs can live on surfaces for hours and even for days.

Do you know where the "hot zones", or the contaminated areas, are in your home?
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the house because of the infectious bacteria that are sometimes found in raw food such as chicken. Also, there is a potential for germs to be spread to other people because that is where food is prepared. You cannot always tell where or when germs are hiding. When you touch a contaminated object you can contaminate other surfaces that you touch afterwards and spread the germs to others.

Another potential hot zone is the bathroom. Routinely cleaning and disinfecting the bathroom reduces odors and may help prevent the spread of germs when someone in the house has a diarrheal illness. And do not forget your child's changing table and diaper pail.

What is the best way to routinely clean and disinfect surfaces?

  • You should follow the directions on the cleaning product labels. And be sure to read safety precautions as well.

  • If you are cleaning up body fluids such as blood, vomit, or feces, you should wear rubber gloves, particularly if you have cuts or scratches on your hands or if a family member has AIDS, Hepatitis B, or another bloodborne disease. And it is also a good idea to clean and disinfect surfaces when someone in the home is sick.

  • To begin, clean the surface thoroughly with soap and water or another cleaner

  • After cleaning, if you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area, and let it stand for a few minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturers recommendations. This keeps the germs in contact with the disinfectant longer.

  • Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards.

  • Store cleaners and disinfectants out of the reach of children.

  • And remember, even if you use gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting surfaces.

  • Handwashing

10. Explain the Wastewater and waste disposal in detail.

Wastewater and waste disposal

Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. It comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry, and/or agriculture and can encompass a wide range of potential contaminants and concentrations. In the most common usage, it refers to the municipal wastewater that contains a broad spectrum of contaminants resulting from the mixing of wastewaters from different sources.

Sewage is correctly the subset of wastewater that is contaminated with feces or urine, but is often used to mean any waste water. "Sewage" includes domestic, municipal, or industrial liquid waste products disposed of, usually via a pipe or sewer or similar structure, sometimes in a cesspool emptier.

The physical infrastructure, including pipes, pumps, screens, channels etc. used to convey sewage from its origin to the point of eventual treatment or disposal is termed sewerage.


Wastewater or sewage can come from (text in brackets indicates likely inclusions or contaminants):

  • Human waste (fæces, used toilet paper or wipes, urine, or other bodily fluids), also known as blackwater, usually from lavatories;

  • Cesspit leakage;

  • Septic tank discharge;

  • Sewage treatment plant discharge;

  • Washing water (personal, clothes, floors, dishes, etc.), also known as greywater or sullage;

  • Rainfall collected on roofs, yards, hard-standings, etc. (generally clean with traces of oils and fuel);

  • Groundwater infiltrated into sewage;

  • Surplus manufactured liquids from domestic sources (drinks, cooking oil, pesticides, lubricating oil, paint, cleaning liquids, etc.);

  • Urban rainfall runoff from roads, carparks, roofs, sidewalks, or pavements (contains oils, animal fæces, litter, fuel or rubber residues,metals from vehicle exhausts, etc.);

  • Seawater ingress (high volumes of salt and micro-biota);

  • Direct ingress of river water (high volumes of micro-biota);

  • Direct ingress of manmade liquids (illegal disposal of pesticides, used oils, etc.);

  • Highway drainage (oil, de-icing agents, rubber residues);

  • Storm drains (almost anything, including cars, shopping trolleys, trees, cattle, etc.);

  • Blackwater (surface water contaminated by sewage);

  • Industrial waste

  • industrial site drainage (silt, sand, alkali, oil, chemical residues);

    • Industrial cooling waters (biocides, heat, slimes, silt);

    • Industrial process waters;

    • Organic or bio-degradable waste, including waste from abattoirs, creameries, and ice cream manufacture;

    • Organic or non bio-degradable/difficult-to-treat waste (pharmaceutical or pesticide manufacturing);

    • extreme pH waste (from acid/alkali manufacturing, metal plating);

    • Toxic waste (metal plating, cyanide production, pesticide manufacturing, etc.);

    • Solids and Emulsions (paper manufacturing, foodstuffs, lubricating and hydraulic oil manufacturing, etc.);

    • agricultural drainage, direct and diffuse.

Wastewater constituents

The composition of wastewater varies widely. This is a partial list of what it may contain:

  • Water ( > 95%) which is often added during flushing to carry waste down a drain;

  • Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, prions and parasitic worms;

  • Non-pathogenic bacteria;

  • Organic particles such as faeces, hairs, food, vomit, paper fibers, plant material, humus, etc.;

  • Soluble organic material such as urea, fruit sugars, soluble proteins, drugs, pharmaceuticals, etc.;

  • Inorganic particles such as sand, grit, metal particles, ceramics, etc.;

  • Soluble inorganic material such as ammonia, road-salt, sea-salt, cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, thiocyanates, thiosulfates, etc.;

  • Animals such as protozoa, insects, arthropods, small fish, etc.;

  • Macro-solids such as sanitary napkins, nappies/diapers, condoms, needles, children's toys, dead animals or plants, etc.;

  • Gases such as hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, methane, etc.;

  • Emulsions such as paints, adhesives, mayonnaise, hair colorants, emulsified oils, etc.;

  • Toxins such as pesticides, poisons, herbicides, etc.

Wastewater quality indicators

Any oxidizable material present in a natural waterway or in an industrial wastewater will be oxidized both by biochemical (bacterial) or chemical processes. The result is that the oxygen content of the water will be decreased. Basically, the reaction for biochemical oxidation may be written as:

Oxidizable material + bacteria + nutrient + O2 → CO2 + H2O + oxidized inorganics such as NO3 or SO4

Oxygen consumption by reducing chemicals such as sulfides and nitrites is typified as follows:

S-- + 2 O2 → SO4--

NO2- + ½ O2 → NO3-

Since all natural waterways contain bacteria and nutrients, almost any waste compounds introduced into such waterways will initiate biochemical reactions (such as shown above). Those biochemical reactions create what is measured in the laboratory as the Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Such chemicals are also liable to be broken down using strong oxidising agents and these chemical reactions create what is measured in the laboratory as the Chemical oxygen demand (COD).

Both the BOD and COD tests are a measure of the relative oxygen-depletion effect of a waste contaminant. Both have been widely adopted as a measure of pollution effect. The BOD test measures the oxygen demand of biodegradable pollutants whereas the COD test measures the oxygen demand of oxidizable pollutants.

The so-called 5-day BOD measures the amount of oxygen consumed by biochemical oxidation of waste contaminants in a 5-day period. The total amount of oxygen consumed when the biochemical reaction is allowed to proceed to completion is called the Ultimate BOD. The Ultimate BOD is too time consuming, so the 5-day BOD has almost universally been adopted as a measure of relative pollution effect.

There are also many different COD tests of which the 4-hour COD is probably the most common.

There is no generalized correlation between the 5-day BOD and the ultimate BOD. Similarly there is no generalized correlation between BOD and COD. It is possible to develop such correlations for a specific waste contaminants in a specific waste water stream but such correlations cannot be generalized for use with any other waste contaminants or waste water streams. This is because the composition of any waste water stream is different. As an example and effluent consisting of a solution of simple sugars that might discharge from a confectioneryfactory is likely to have organic components that degrade very quickly. In such a case the 5 day BOD and the ultimate BOD would be very similar . I.e there would be very little organic material left after 5 days. . However a final effluent of a sewage treatment works serving a large industrialised area might have a discharge where the ultimate BOD was much greater than the 5 day BOD because much of the easily degraded material would have been removed in the sewage treatment process and many industrial processes discharge difficult to degrade organic molecules.

The laboratory test procedures for the determining the above oxygen demands are detailed in many standard texts. American versions include the "Standard Methods For the Examination Of Water and Wastewater" .

Sewage disposal

Industrial wastewater effluent with neutralized pH from tailing runoff. Taken in Peru.

In some urban areas, sewage is carried separately in sanitary sewers and runoff from streets is carried in storm drains. Access to either of these is typically through a manhole. During high precipitation periods a sanitary sewer overflow can occur, causing potential public health and ecological damage.

Sewage may drain directly into major watersheds with minimal or no treatment. When untreated, sewage can have serious impacts on the quality of an environment and on the health of people. Pathogens can cause a variety of illnesses. Some chemicals pose risks even at very low concentrations and can remain a threat for long periods of time because of bioaccumulation in animal or human tissue.


There are numerous processes that can be used to clean up waste waters depending on the type and extent of contamination. Most wastewater is treated in industrial-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) which may include physical, chemical and biological treatment processes. However, the use of septic tanks and other On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF) is widespread in rural areas, serving up to one quarter of the homes in the U.S. The most important aerobic treatment system is the activated sludge process, based on the maintenance and recirculation of a complex biomass composed by micro-organisms able to absorb and adsorb the organic matter carried in the wastewater. Anaerobic processes are widely applied in the treatment of industrial wastewaters and biological sludge. Some wastewater may be highly treated and reused as reclaimed water. For some waste waters ecological approaches using reed bed systems such as constructed wetlands may be appropriate. Modern systems include tertiary treatment by micro filtration or synthetic membranes. After membrane filtration, the treated wastewater is indistinguishable from waters of natural origin of drinking quality. Nitrates can be removed from wastewater by microbialdenitrification, for which a small amount of methanol is typically added to provide the bacteria with a source of carbon. Ozone Waste Water Treatment is also growing in popularity, and requires the use of an ozone generator, which decontaminates the water as Ozone bubbles percolate through the tank.

Disposal of wastewaters from an industrial plant is a difficult and costly problem. Most petroleum refineries, chemical and petrochemical plants[2][3] have onsite facilities to treat their wastewaters so that the pollutant concentrations in the treated wastewater comply with the local and/or national regulations regarding disposal of wastewaters into community treatment plants or into rivers, lakes or oceans. Other Industrial processes that produce a lot of waste-waters such as paper and pulp production has created environmental concern leading to development of processes to recycle water use within plants before they have to be cleaned and disposed of.


Treated wastewater can be reused as drinking water, in industry (cooling towers), in artificial recharge of aquifers, in agriculture (70% of Israel's irrigated agriculture is based on highly purified wastewater)[citation needed] and in the rehabilitation of natural ecosystems (Florida'sEverglades).

Algal fuel

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, following the conclusions of the USDOE´s Aquatic Species Program, use wastewater for breeding algae. The wastewater from domestic and industrial sources contain rich organic compounds, which accelerate the growth of algae. This algae can be used to produce algal fuels[5]

Algaewheel, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, presented a proposal to build a new wastewater treatment facility in Cedar Lake, Indiana that uses algae to treat municipal wastewater and uses the sludge byproduct to produce biofuel[6][7].


The words "sewage" and "sewer" came from Old French essouier = "to drain", which came from Latin exaquāre. Their formal Latin antecedents are exaquāticum and exaquārium.

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