RS CAC/GL 21: 1997
Principles for the establishment and application of microbiological criteria for foods


These Principles are intended to give guidance on the establishment and application of microbiological criteria
for foods at any point in the food chain from primary production to final consumption.
The safety of foods is principally assured by control at the source, product design and process control, and the
application of Good Hygienic Practices during production, processing (including labelling), handling, distribution,
storage, sale, preparation and use, in conjunction with the application of the HACCP system. This preventive
approach offers more control than microbiological testing because the effectiveness of microbiological examination to
assess the safety of foods is limited. Guidance for the establishment of HACCP based systems is detailed in Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point System and Guidelines for its Application (Annex to CAC/RCP 1-1969, Rev. 3-
Microbiological criteria should be established according to these principles and be based on scientific analysis
and advice, and, where sufficient data are available, a risk analysis appropriate to the foodstuff and its use.
Microbiological criteria should be developed in a transparent fashion and meet the requirements of fair trade. They
should be reviewed periodically for relevance with respect to emerging pathogens, changing technologies, and new
understandings of science.

General Information

RS CAC/GL 21: 1997CODEX STANDARDSAgriculture3Fifth EditionAvailable

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