The objectives of this study was to determine food safety practices and procedures related to the hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) programme and prerequisite programme implementation in food businesses. One hundred and nine food businesses in Turkey were assessed for HACCP-prerequisite programmes and food safety practices. Only eight food businesses had implemented the HACCP system in food businesses. Directors and employees often have insufficient knowledge regarding the basics of food hygiene. Results indicated that proper food safety practices and prerequisite food safety programmes for HACCP were often not being followed in many food businesses. Time and temperature errors and inadequate handwashing practices were wide in the most food businesses. Emphasis on implementing prerequisite programmes in preparation for HACCP is needed in food businesses. The problems of implementing HACCP in food businesses have been namely a low level of food hygiene management training, high staff turnover rate, lack of motivation, lack of financial resources, inadequate equipment and physical conditions of the facility and failure of government. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.