What is HACCP?
A common question that comes up in regulated industries, such as food manufacturing and processing, is “What is HACCP?”. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. HACCP is a widely recognized food processing concept that was developed to enhance the production of safe food.
When is HACCP Used?
HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry from growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, and merchandising to preparing food for consumption. Food safety systems based on the HACCP principles have been successfully applied in food processing plants, retail food stores, and foodservice operations.
How does HACCP work?
The HACCP system involves reviewing each step of the food manufacturing process, from start to finish, to identify every possible hazard or source of contamination. Hazards can be biological (e.g., pathogenic microorganisms), chemical (e.g., pesticides, allergens), or physical (e.g., extraneous material). For every identified hazard or source of contamination, a reliable control or procedure is put in place to ensure that contamination does not occur or is controlled to an acceptable level. Prerequisite programs such as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs), which address areas such as pest control, traceability & recall, hygiene, and sanitation, are an essential foundation for the development and implementation of successful HACCP plans.
What are the 7 key principles of HACCP?
HACCP outlines seven principles that are key to ensuring the safety of food:
1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis – The initial process of identifying potential hazards that could occur in a food business.
2. Identify Critical Control Points – A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a point in the food preparation process where hazards can be reduced, eliminated, or prevented.
3. Establish Critical Limits – A critical limit is a maximum or minimum value to which a food safety hazard (biological, chemical, or physical) must be controlled. Often critical limit guidelines are set by government regulators.
4. Monitor Critical Control Points – Monitoring each CCP is essential to make sure that hazards don’t go beyond the critical limits set. Generally, monitoring can be broken down into four different categories: observation, sensory, chemical, and physical.
5. Establish Corrective Actions – If a hazard exceeds its critical limit, corrective action must be taken. Corrective actions are either immediate or preventative.
6. Establish Record-Keeping – Comprehensive and up-to-date records must be kept of any hazard along with details of any corrective actions. These records are kept together in a living document called a Food Safety Plan which is part of a Food Safety Program.
7. Establish Verification Procedures – Verification procedures can help determine if your Food Safety Plan works to prevent the hazards identified. It is important to perform an audit of your Food Safety Plan at least once a year to ensure that everything is working.
Why is HACCP important?
HACCP principles are essential for any business involved in the food industry, including yours. A Food Safety Plan can protect your business from being the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak or severe allergic reaction from food allergens. These incidents can cause your customers to become ill or injured, and your brand and bottom line to suffer.
Proper implementation of a HACCP program helps reduce the likelihood of customer complaints or a recall by identifying and controlling potential hazards which may come from raw materials, facility processes, and human error.