The caterers provide food and beverages to people in schools, hospitals, workplaces and for leisure events. This sector, which has an important turnover in Spain, feeds a large number of people daily, so it has an important public health responsibility that requires adequate food safety management. In this sense, Regulation 852/2004 regarding the hygiene of foodstuffs includes the obligation of all food businesses to create, implement and maintain procedures based on the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point or HACCP.
However, catering in Spain is a very fragmented sector with significant shortcomings regarding job satisfaction, training, motivation and job stability. These elements hinder effective implementation of HACCP despite the flexibility of the proposed Regulation 852 and the development of guidelines and materials.
Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to analyze the problems in the implementation and sustained application of HACCP in small companies catering in Navarra in order to develop proposals for improvements that would facilitate the management of food safety through HACCP adaptation.
In order to identify the principal barriers in the design and implementation of the system, data collected from 54 food services by our research group were evaluated. The main problems that were found included a lack of understanding of HACCP on the part of the company management personnel, inadequate training of staff which impedes putting the concepts and general knowledge acquired into practice, and the absence of guidelines and specific instructions to be followed by the food services in Navarra.
We also studied the effectiveness of self-control systems based on HACCP systems that had already been established in 20 kitchens. Also taken into account in our study were the knowledge and behaviour of the food handlers, the adequacy of the facilities, and the microbiological quality of the work surfaces as well as the processed dishes. The major deviations found in our study included a lack of commitment and adherence to the system, due to the fact that only a small number of staff is involved in the HACCP, and the absence of appropriate prerequisite programs that could be of assistance in the production of safe food. These observations could explain the repeated deviations found in the two critical points that are especially important in the catering sector: production and maintenance temperatures of heated products as well as cleaning and disinfection of work surfaces and equipment that come in contact with food (26% and 28% of the analysed samples were incorrect, respectively).
Therefore, based on the barriers and deviations found, we have proposed a number of specific materials that could facilitate the work of those in charge of small catering companies and users of HACCP. This proposal includes a guide for flexible application of the HACCP system in small catering establishments. In addition, graphic material, in the form of posters, has been developed. These posters send simple messages based on the Five Keys to Safer Food established by the World Health Organization in an attempt to draw the attention of food handlers regarding important aspects of safe hygiene practices that should be carried out in their daily work.
In relation to the proposed guide, this is intended to help remind food workers of the basics of HACCP; the text is simple and easy to understand, presented in an attractive, eye-catching design. The guide is organized as a workbook in which prerequisites are especially relevant for facilitating system implementation. Another important part of the workbook is the handout that includes guidelines and recommendations for motivating people, putting special emphasis on achieving effective work teams.