Preparatory Stage F: Identify intended use of the product

Statement

The consumer target groups should be defined to allow for a thorough HACCP study.  By identifying the target group it will help the HACCP team identify other hazards that may become significant for vulnerable consumers.

How is this stage achieved?

Define the intended use of the product by the customer or final consumer.  You should define the consumer target group so that you cover any special considerations.  In specific cases, the suitability of the product for particular groups of consumers, such as institutional caterers, travelers, etc. and for vulnerable groups of the population may have to be considered.

Ask yourself “Do the consumers of my product have a particular food safety requirement?”  It is your responsibility to understand your target group and increase your knowledge and awareness of hazards (physical, chemical, biological and allergens) that are of a particular concern to the vulnerable group/s.

Vulnerable group

Considerations

Allergy sufferers

Is the product intended to be consumed by sensitive groups who may be allergic to specific food ingredients.

See Food Information Regulation (Regulation (EU) 1169/2011).

Young

Infants and young children are regarded as a vulnerable group when it comes to food safety.  You need to think about what additional hazards may be specific to this target group (e.g. type of food, size of food, choking hazards, mineral levels).

Elderly

If elderly people are going to consume the product think about hazards that are specific to this group. Older adults are more susceptible to foodborne illness.  The immune system often weakens as you get older and stomach acid also decreases, stomach acid plays an important role in reducing the number of bacteria in our intestinal tracts and the risk of illness.

Pregnant

There are some foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming because they can make the woman ill or harm the unborn child.

Immunocompromised/ immunosuppressed/ immune deficient

Is the product to be consumed by people that have an impaired immune response (for instance those undergoing chemotherapy or have AIDS, premature infants or transplant recipients that take drugs to prevent their body from rejecting the new organ). Consideration should be given to that fact that the immune system may be prevented from attacking harmful microorganisms in food.

Note this list is not exhaustive

Again the HACCP team should consider the likely abuse/unintended use of the product by the customer or final consumer (See guidance on this under Preparatory Stage E).  You should consider if the product you produce could result in it being sold to a market other than that intended.