Gabriele Maier-Sterneder and Andreas Böhm are quality management experts

Gabriele Maier-Sterneder and Andreas Böhm are both state certified food chemists and quality management experts. They work as external consultants for Hamberger. Here they explain how to deal with potential risks and why not everything that is called standard is really standardized.

How can a maximum of food quality be ensured in a business of this size?

Maier-Sterneder: In general? One has to reduce the risks to a minimum. The law merely requires compliance with the HACCP guidelines. But that is not enough for Hamberger. That’s why we were tasked to develop a HACCP concept that goes above and beyond the usual safety precautions.

HACCP is a process, which was originally developed by NASA for the food supply of astronauts. It stands for “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points” – it is a risk analysis that shows where the critical points are in a production process and how to deal with them effectively.

“We’re talking about a tailor-made concept that has been developed by an experienced professional.”

What makes your concept so special?

Böhm: Some companies just use standardized HACCP plans that you can download for free from the Internet. And then you often have untrained personnel implementing generic safety plans to the best of their knowledge. Here we are talking about a tailor-made concept that has been developed by an experienced professional like Frau Maier-Sterneder. This process takes specific situations into consideration and sets out a clear set of rules and checklists of what is to be done when and in what order.

How does that translate to everyday business?

Maier-Sterneder: The checklists cover every area that pose potential risks: Temperature control, storage, employee hygiene, material and personnel flow, cleaning and transport paths – all of these areas have been assessed for risk. Furthermore, there are strict guidelines for employee hygiene training, waste disposal, the temperature control of the storage areas and pest monitoring. Each and every one of these guidelines is controlled regularly with the help of checklists. Böhm: Particularly close attention is paid to products like fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. They are subjected to microbiological examination according to a risk orientated sampling scheme. Inspection tours are also part of the plan. We take routine samples from surfaces, tools and clothing at regular intervals.

“We’re talking about a tailor-made concept that has been developed by an experienced professional.”

What are the results?

Böhm: Highly satisfactory. Maier-Sterneder: We should mention that the premises and facilities were refurbished here in 2010. The meat department, fish department and the entire refrigeration system have been upgraded and are equipped with the latest technology. That has a very positive effect. And not only on hygiene – new refrigeration units work more efficiently and dependably than older models. There are not many competitors in this sector that have this kind of infrastructure. We are currently working on the implementation of the IFS-Standard – a management system, which guarantees the highest food quality by, among other things, proving the correct implementation of the HACCP. This is a first for the C & C segment, it is a new standard of quality.