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Glossary of food inspection terms

This glossary can help those in the food business understand the terminology used in our food inspection reports.

Term Description
antibacterial anything that destroys or stops the growth of bacteria
'best before' date date after which the quality of the food may be affected but would not be harmful to health
BS EN British Standard, European Norm - a formally recognised standard
chemical disinfection application of a liquid chemical to get rid of the majority of bacteria or viruses
clean area an area that is only used for ready-to-eat foods
clean as you go keeping the work area clean and tidy at all times whilst working
complex equipment equipment that can be very difficult to clean, for example because it is hard to access all the parts; there are lots of small parts; surfaces may not be smooth or easy to clean (e.g. slicers, mincers and vacuum packing machines)
contact time the period of time that a disinfectant needs to be left on a surface for it to work effectively
contamination unwanted biological, physical or chemical substance in food (e.g. bacteria, glass, detergent)
control measure method to reduce a hazard to an acceptable level (e.g. cooking)
core temperature the temperature at the centre of the food
corrective action action taken to ensure critical limits are met (e.g. cooking time extended until correct core temperature reached)
critical limit an objective that separates the acceptable from the unacceptable for the prevention, elimination or reduction of an identified hazard (e.g. minimum core temperature of a cooked food product that will destroy a specific bacteria)
cross-contamination the spread of harmful bacteria or viruses onto food from other sources such as raw meat or soiled vegetables (known as direct cross-contamination) or from surfaces, hands or equipment that have been contaminated (known as indirect cross-contamination).
danger zone the temperature range between 8°C and 63°C in which bacteria can grow and multiply rapidly
detergent chemical used for general cleaning to dissolve grease and remove dirt
dilution rate quantity of water and concentrated chemical to add together before it can be used (instructions provided by manufacturer)
disinfectant chemical capable of reducing the levels of specific bacteria or viruses when applied to visibly clean surfaces at the specified dilution rate and for the recommended contact time
foodborne illness illness contracted by eating contaminated food
food handler any person who handles or prepares food whether open (unwrapped) or packaged)
food safety management system a management system for ensuring food safety through the identification, assessment and control of hazards (e.g.
HACCP Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points - a management system for ensuring food safety through the identification, assessment and control of hazards
handling to pick up and hold, move, or touch with the hands
hazard something that has potential to cause harm (e.g. bacteria, dangerous item, chemical)
high risk activity activities where high risk uncooked or lightly cooked ready-to-eat foods are prepared and where potential exists to put large groups of vulnerable groups (young children, elderly, pregnant, infirm) at serious risk (e.g. fresh egg mayonnaise, stake tartar, carpaccio, sushi)
high risk food food which supports the growth of micro-organisms (eg bacteria) and which will not be subjected to any further heat treatment or processing which would remove or destroy them, prior to consumption (eg food which has been cooked for service and ready-to-eat food)
leafy vegetables for example lettuce, spinach, cabbage, watercress, chicory, endive and radicchio and fresh herbs such as coriander, basil, and parsley
micro-organism a living organism (e.g. bacteria, virus or fungi) too small to be seen by the naked eye but visible under a microscope
monitoring a programme of checks (e.g. observations or measurements) of limits to see whether controls are being met
non–food contact surfaces surfaces that do not normally come in direct contact with food (e.g. walls)
portable water water which is safe for human consumption
raw foods foods which have not been heat treated or processed (e.g. raw meat or vegetables)
ready-to-eat (RTE) foods food or ingredients that are intended to be consumed without further cooking or processing (i.e. high risk foods such as cooked meats, washed salads, bread, cheese, sandwiches and ice cream)
root crops for example potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, and turnips
sanitiser a product that works as both a detergent and disinfectant
SFBB Safer Food, Better Business – a management system based on the principles of HACCP for ensuring food safety; designed for small and medium sized food businesses
sterilising sink a sink unit used for sterilising (removing all bacteria) equipment and utensils
supervision the process of overseeing the performance of tasks and procedures to ensure that they are carried out correctly
two stage cleaning cleaning process following two steps: Stage 1 – use detergent to remove grease and visible dirt; Stage 2 – use a disinfectant to remove bacteria (if using sanitiser the two stages should still be followed)
‘use by’ date date by which food must be used or sold. After this date the food may be harmful to health
verification checking or confirming that procedures are achieving the intended effect (i.e. food safety hazards are under control)
visibly clean free from any visible grease, film or solid matter
wrapping placing of a foodstuff in direct contact with a wrapper or container


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