The purpose of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan is to identify and control any hazards that may arise during the process of manufacturing, storing, distributing, and consuming food products. HACCP plans are meant to reduce, eliminate, and avoid risks that may negatively impact the consumer and the organization. They will vary based on the product, process and other factors that can occur in the facility. Developing a HACCP plan consists of 12 tasks with seven principles, which are further explained below.
1: Establish a HACCP Team
The HACCP team consists of individuals possessing a wide range of disciplines and knowledge to contribute to the process of food safety. A typical team includes:
- Team Leader: orchestrates and organizes the planning process; identifies the scope and specific problem(s) of the plan.
- Specialist(s): provide consultation and formulation of the plan through their expertise and knowledge.
- Front Line Staff: includes farmers, distributors, processors, etc.; have in-depth perspective on creating the food product.
- Stakeholders: e.g. consumers, board of directors, departments, etc.
2: Describe the Product
A full description of the final product should have the following elements in order for the HACCP team to identify hazards in creating the product:
- Ingredients, and their characteristics;
- Formulation (aka “recipe”) of the product;
- Process of packaging, storing, and transporting;
- Shelf life.
3. Purpose of the Product
The team determines the main intent of how the product will be used. Will it be cooked, eaten directly, or require further processing? The team needs to identify its intended consumers and determine any vulnerabilities when using the product. Lastly, the team should consider the effects of misuse or abuse of the product to the general population.
4. Process Flow Diagram
A process flow diagram gives the HACCP team a broader view on the manufacturing process of the product. The diagram can also consist of a schematic of the facility, lending an easier understanding of the steps of each process.
5. On Site Confirmation of Flow Diagram
The HACCP performs a review of the operating/manufacturing process to determine the quality of the flow diagram. Multiple reviews can be done and compared to iron out deficiencies in the process. The site for which the HACCP plan is being designed should be visited as many times as possible to make sure all relevant information is collected.
6. Identify and analyze hazards (Principle # 1)
While identifying potential hazards, the HACCP team must do some background research on the following:
- Ingredients and materials used in the product
- Activities performed in each step of the manufacturing process
- Method of storage and distribution
- Use/consumption of product
During analysis, the HACCP evaluates the product’s effects on human, environmental, and organizational interaction.
Control measures are considered once hazards are identified and analyzed during the manufacturing process. At times, organizations may have to hire external food safety consultants to offer different perspectives.
7. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) (Principle # 2)
A critical control point is a step in the process flow diagram that involves reducing, eliminating, and preventing food safety hazards. If CCPs are not in place, the production will stop and cannot continue further.
8. Establish Critical Limits for each CCP (Principle # 3)
A critical limit measures the maximum/minimum value of certain factors that have impact on reducing, preventing, and eliminating food safety hazards. Factors such as temperature, time, moisture level, and visual appearance are considered.
9. Establish a Monitoring Procedure (Principle # 4)
A general monitoring procedure consists of:
- Ensuring critical limits of each CCP are being met;
- Detecting any inefficiencies of the control measures;
- Corrective actions need to be taken as quickly as possible to avoid and minimize loss of the product;
- Observing or measuring samples using a statistically-based sampling plan;
- Common measurements taken are time, temperature, moisture, and content.
10. Establish Corrective Actions (Principle # 5)
Corrective actions must be taken immediately if critical limits are not being met. Management and employees should be trained on how to perform and respond appropriately.
11. Verify the HACCP Plan (Principle # 6)
Once the plan is drafted and CCPs have been validated, the HACCP plan can then be verified. The team must evaluate if CCPs and control measures are effective. Internal auditing may be required to demonstrate ongoing commitment to complying and updating the HACCP plan. Asking questions, observing operational procedures, and collecting samples are just some of the ways to verify the plan.
12. Keep Records (Principle # 7)
Record keeping is an essential step of the HACCP plan due to the following:
- Offers traceability and transparency
- Ensures due diligence
- Provides record of complaints with critical limits set
- Identifies potential problems
Record keeping can be carried out in a number of ways, such as checklists or control charts. Manual and computer records are acceptable, but the documentation method should be designed such that it is appropriate for the size and nature of the organization.
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