A prerequisite or prerequisite programme (PRP) is defined in ISO 22000 as food safety basic conditions and activities that are necessary to maintain a hygienic environment suitable for the production, handling and provision of safe end products and safe food for human consumption. The prerequisite programmes needed will depend on the segment of the food chain in which the organization operates. Examples of equivalent terms are: Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Hygienic Practice (GHP) and Good Distribution Practice (GDP).
In clause 7.2 Prerequisite programmes (PRPs) ISO 22000 prescribes the need to establish, implement and maintain prerequisite programmes to assist in controlling the likelihood of introducing food safety hazards to the product through the work environment, prevention of biological, chemical and physical contamination of the product(s), including cross contamination between products, and controlling food safety hazard levels in the product and product processing environment.
ISO 22000 requires appropriate prerequisite programmes with regard to food safety, the size and type of the operation and the nature of the products being manufactured and/or handled. Relevant statutory and regulatory requirements for prerequisite programmes also need to be considered as well as customer requirements, recognized guidelines, codes of practices, national, international or sector standards.
ISO 22000 specifically requires the following to be considered:
- construction and lay-out of buildings and associated utilities;
- lay-out of premises, including workspace and employee facilities;
- supplies of air, water, energy and other utilities;
- supporting services, including waste and sewage disposal;
- the suitability of equipment and its accessibility for cleaning and maintenance;
- management of purchased materials (e.g. raw materials, ingredients, chemicals and packaging), supplies (e.g. water, air, steam and ice), disposals (e.g. waste and sewage) and handling of products (e.g. storage and transportation);
- measures for the prevention of cross contamination;
- cleaning and sanitizing;
- pest control;
- personnel hygiene;
- other aspects as appropriate.
Documents should specify how prerequisite programmes are managed and records of verifications should be maintained.
Construction and lay-out of buildings and associated utilities – Good hygienic design and construction and the provision of adequate facilities is necessary to enable hazards to be effectively controlled.
Lay-out of premises, including workspace and employee facilities – The internal design and layout of buildings should permit good food hygiene practices, they should be built of durable materials and be easy to maintain and clean. Employee hygiene facilities should be available to ensure that personal hygiene is maintained.
Supplies of air, water, energy and other utilities – There should be an adequate supply of potable water as specified in WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and hygienic facilities for water storage and distribution. Non-potable water, if used on site, should be segregated to prevent contamination.
Supporting services, including waste and sewage disposal – Adequate drainage and waste disposal systems and facilities should be in place to prevent contamination. Factory drainage and that from toilet facilities should be separate. Flood prevention measures should be in place to prevent contamination with sewage.
Suitability of equipment and its accessibility for cleaning and maintenance – Food contact equipment should be designed and constructed to ensure that it can be cleaned and maintained. Operations should then ensure that equipment is kept in a hygienic condition.
Management of purchased materials, supplies, disposals and handling of products – Systems should be in place to manage purchases, supplies, disposals, transport and distribution. Supplier assurance is fundamental in ensuring the reliable provision of safe materials, purchased materials should be verified. Appropriate facilities should be in place for the storage, handling and distribution of food.
Measures for the prevention of cross contamination – Measures including segregation of raw and processed products should be implemented to ensure that cross contamination of the finished product is prevented.
Cleaning – Appropriate cleaning and sanitation procedures should be in place for facilities, equipment, tools and the environment to ensure hygienic conditions are provided for the handling of food and the prevention of contamination.
Pest control – Measures need to be in place to prevent the access of pests, discourage their activity and harbourage on site and for the elimination of pests and the hazards they are likely to cause. Personnel need to be trained to identify and report pest activity. Incoming materials need to be inspected before acceptance to ensure they are free from pest activity.
Personnel hygiene – Appropriate standards of personal hygiene should be in place to prevent the contamination of food. Staff should wear suitable protective clothing, cover cuts and wounds with suitable waterproof dressings. Personnel should be washing their hands when cleanliness may affect food safety such as before conducting food handling activities. Rules for hand washing should be in place and measures that can lead to food contamination such as smoking, spitting, eating, sneezing or coughing should be prevented in food handling areas.
Other aspects as appropriate – Other prerequisite measures should be considered that are viewed as appropriate for the type of food being handled. These measures are described in CODEX guidelines. There are also measures such as the control of allergens and food defence which have been recognised more recently as having an elevated in importance in food safety.
For the prerequisites specifically mentioned in ISO 22000, widely recognised requirements are documented in more detail in Codex CAC/RCP 1-1969 (Rev.4-2003), Recommended International Code of Practice — General Principles of Food Hygiene; incorporates Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system and guidelines for its application.
ISO 22000 refers to other Codex Codes and Guidelines providing examples of control measures, including prerequisite programmes and guidance for their selection and use, these include Guidelines for the Validation of Food Hygiene Control Measures and Principles for the Application of Traceability/Product Tracing with respect to Food Inspection and Certification.
There are also references to CODEX Commodity Specific Codes and Guidelines for feed, foods for special intended uses, specifically processed foods, ingredients for foods, fruits and vegetables, meat and meat products, milk and milk products, egg and egg products, fish and fishery products, waters, transportation. Plus there are reference to Codex food safety hazard specific codes and control measure-specific codes and guidelines.