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?

What does HACCP stand for?

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. 

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. You must map out the entire process and possible hazards. You then determine how great the risks are (the 'hazard analysis'). Next look at the "critical control points": the moments in the process that you need to keep under control to exclude the risks or reduce them to an acceptable level.

Netherlands Foods and Consumer Product Safety Authority

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, NVWA, in Dutch) monitors compliance with the regulations. The NVWA inspectors determine if you work in a safe manner, such as by checking the HACCP lists. These are also known as registration lists. 

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.

New rules for plastic packaging

If you sell takeaway food or coffee, you must also follow rules to be more environmentally friendly. For example, from July 2023, you will have to charge money for disposable plastic cups and packaging. Learn what the new rules mean for you.

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.

Good to know: HACCP regulations are independent of your registration with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK.