Food safety and hygiene: all about HACCP

Do you run a business in hospitality? Then you will inevitably be confronted with rules and regulations around food safety and hygiene. You have probably heard of the term 'HACCP' before. But what exactly is HACCP and what does it mean for you as a hospitality business owner?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. Do you prepare or sell food, for example, in a restaurant, cafe, or hotel? Then you are obliged to have a HACCP plan and to act in accordance with the HACCP guidelines. This reduces the chance that things will go wrong that endanger food safety in your company.

Complying with HACCP guidelines

There are 2 ways to comply with the HACCP rules: you can write up your own food safety plan, or you can make use of an already approved hygiene code specific to your industry. 

This overview lists all hygiene codes per sector. These codes have been approved by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). It checks whether companies work according to the HACCP rules.

Hygiene code

A hygiene code is basically a ready-made HACCP plan, which simply describes how you can monitor food safety and hygiene. If you work according to the code, you meet the requirements.

You can order the approved code through the sector organisation for the hospitality industry, the Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, KHN).

Draw up a HACCP plan yourself

When you draw up a food safety plan yourself, you do this based on the 7 basic principles (in Dutch) of HACCP.

First describe the production process and all possible hazards. Then determine how big the risks are and how to reduce them. For each step in the production process, describe how you ensure that you work safely.

You also describe how and when you check the production process. You can use registration lists (in Dutch) for this, also known as HACCP lists. On these, you keep track, for instance, of the temperature of refrigerators and the date on which appliances were cleaned.

For a fee, consultancies check whether a plan complies with HACCP rules. This is not compulsory.

HACCP checks

The NVWA monitors compliance with the regulations. You are obliged to register your company with the NVWA if you work with foodstuffs. Employees of that authority will visit you unannounced and check the registration lists, among other things.

If you have everything in order, the NVWA checks less frequently. If you do not meet the legal requirements, you will receive a written warning or a fine (in Dutch).

Registration with the NVWA is separate from your registration with the KVK. KVK does not inform the NVWA that your company works with foodstuffs. You have to do that yourself.

HACCP certificate not needed

As an entrepreneur, you ensure that employees know what the rules are and that they adhere to them. Obtaining a certificate or diploma is not mandatory. Complying with HACCP rules is the responsibility of everyone who prepares and sells food. HACCP is not person-specific.

Hygiene code versus Diploma for Social Hygiene

The hygiene code is not the same as the Social Hygiene Certificate (in Dutch), also referred to as the Certificate for Social Hygiene. The Certificate for Social Hygiene concerns the responsible sale of alcohol. The requirements for the sale of alcohol are laid down in the Alcohol Act. The Hygiene Code deals with the safe preparation of food and beverages.

Additional Rules

Additional rules apply to some catering establishments.

Markets, events, food trucks

Do you sell food or beverages at a market, event, or from a food truck? There are specific requirements (in Dutch) for the hygiene and layout of mobile food outlets.

Artisanal ice-cream making

Making ice cream comes with a high risk of bacteria, which is why a separate Hygiene Code (in Dutch) has been drawn up for artisanal ice cream making.

Catering, B&B

Do you have a home-based catering business or do you receive guests at home, for example with a Bed & Breakfast? If so, you probably use your kitchen for both business and private purposes. In that case, make a clear distinction between food for catering and food for yourself in both the kitchen and storage area. For example, you can do so by using different refrigerators. HACCP regulations, such as completing HACCP lists, thus also apply to entrepreneurs who work from home.