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The Reference Database for Hazard Identification (RDHI) is a tool designed for use by all food processors, in particular those responsible for developing preventive control plans, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) coordinators and HACCP consultants. It is intended to assist them in identifying food and food-borne hazards in production and processing when planning and implementing food safety procedures, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) or HACCP plans.

The Reference Database for Hazard Identification was originally developed for the Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) around 1995. The updated paper-based database was prepared in 2008. The web-based RDHI replaces the paper-based database with a flexible computerized tool allowing easy access for it users.

Every effort has been taken to create a complete listing of known biological, chemical and physical hazards. It must be understood that this reference database is only a guide to hazard identification and that the HACCP team is responsible to ensure that any additional hazards specific to a food premise will be considered and evaluated. In addition to this database, reference texts, Public Health Agency of Canada reports on food safety related illness, recalls and complaints, your company's complaints file and other review papers should be consulted.

The users can interact with the hazard reference tool to view the associated food hazards corresponding to the user selections and print out the resulting hazard summary. Since RDHI is used as reference only, it does not save users selection or input in any way.

The interactive hazard reference tool can be accessed from the left menu using one of the sections. It contains the following sections: Product Ingredients and Incoming Materials, Processing Steps, Plant Layout (Cross Contamination Zone), Biological Hazards, Chemical Hazards, Physical Hazards, References and the Search page.

An introduction page is available in each section and subsection, providing a general description, contact information and general references. Selecting the Continue link at the top or the bottom of the page will display the detailed contents in each section.

The Product Ingredients and Incoming Materials, Processing Steps, Plant Layout (Cross Contamination Zone) interrelated sections display a list of items for the RDHI users to enter selections on ingredients, processing steps, or cross contaminations. The selections are then used to assess the potential hazards. Once the user enters the contents of ingredients, processing steps, or plant layout, he or she can navigate among the subsections using the Next and Previous buttons on the bottom of the content panel. Selecting these buttons would keep the same hazard assessment session and the selections in all the subsections within hazard tool are preserved regardless of which subsection the user is viewing. User may jump to the associated hazard summary page using the Associated Hazards button on the bottom of the main contents at any time.

The hazard reference tool provides a set of references on types of hazards, hazard details, internal and external references. Specifically, the following sections provide detailed references on hazard types and items: Biological, Chemical and Physical. Other types of references, including regulations, web sites and other organizations, are summarized in References section.

The search page can be accessed from the left menu bar. The search functions support keyword lookup. The user can select one or more sections to filter the search results. The resulting entries are organized by categories and listed in the table. Each entry provides a hyper link which can be used to navigate to the corresponding section with the item highlighted in the page.

The manufacturer / importer is responsible for the safety of food sold.

The Food and Drugs Act states that:

4. No person shall sell an article of food that

  1. has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance;
  2. is unfit for human consumption;
  3. consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;
  4. is adulterated; or
  5. was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions.

5. (1) No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety. (2) An article of food that is not labelled or packaged as required by, or is labelled or packaged contrary to, the regulations shall be deemed to be labelled or packaged contrary to subsection (1).

7. No person shall manufacture, prepare, preserve, package or store for sale any food under unsanitary conditions.

In designing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, it is recommended that food enterprises follow the steps of the Logic Sequence for Application of HACCP as identified by the Codex Alimentarius. The first 5 steps include:

  1. assemble HACCP team;
  2. describe your product and identify its intended use;
  3. list product ingredients and incoming material;
  4. construct a process flow diagram and plant schematic;
  5. verify on-site your process flow diagram and plant schematic.

Then, after having completed these 5 steps, the sixth step requires listing all of the potential hazards associated with each product for each processing step. A hazard is a condition or circumstance having the potential to cause illness or harm to a consumer. Hazards can be biological, chemical or physical. Only after identifying all of the potential hazards will the HACCP team then proceed with the steps of conducting hazard analyses and considering measures to control any of the identified hazards. For many establishments working on implementing HACCP, the sixth step - listing all of the potential hazards associated with each product for each processing step - can be a challenging and limiting step. It can be quite difficult to insure that ALL of the potential risks and sources of exposures to hazards are considered within a food production or processing environment.

It is felt that the consultation and use of this database will facilitate the hazard identification exercise and will result in more accurate, effective and uniform HACCP plans.

The database is manually organized and overseen, and is continually updated. It is recognized that further revisions will be necessary to ensure that the database reflects changing conditions. Users can submit information or proposed changes or additions to existing data that will be reviewed and verified prior to acceptance. Individuals with expertise on a substance are invited to review information submitted for inclusion in the database system.

If users find missing, inaccurate or incomplete information, contact us

Other Information

NOTE: The RDHI has been prepared for the convenience of reference only and has no official sanction. Considerable effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this database is up-to-date and accurate.

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