This stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and is a methodical and preventative approach that addresses the physical, chemical, and biological hazards relating to food safety. It covers areas such as raw material production, procurement and handling, manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. It is a requisite of European Union food hygiene laws and applies to all food business operators, with a few exceptions. At its core it stipulates that all organisations involved in the food business should implement and maintain hygiene procedures based on HACCP principles.
It is an internationally recognised and accepted system that can assist organisations to put into place rigorous processes that monitor and control procedures which will prevent hazards in food production. Food safety and public health agencies throughout the world recognize HACCP as the preferred tool for food safety assurance and improving regulatory food standards.
It is a set of guidelines and principles that offer a systematic approach to food safety and in this context should be seen as more than a simple quality control.
What sectors is HACCP applicable to
It is suitable to be implemented by organisations directly or indirectly involved in various sectors of the food industry and related supply chain, including;
- Fast food takeaways
- Food manufacturers
- Food preparation
- Manufacturers of confectionaries
It is worth noting that in recent years has been increasingly applied to industries other than food, such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals.
The benefits of implementing HACCP
It has a number of benefits to businesses that work within the food preparation and supply industry as it assists them to identify and manage key controls over processes and thereby ensure safe food. Key advantages are;
- Improved food hygiene and safety, which in turn can lead to a reduction is food poisoning cases, complaints and any subsequent negative publicity.
- Controls major food risks.
- Employees become more aware of food hygiene issues and of their role in protecting consumers.
- Implementation ensures compliance with food safety laws and regulations.
- What hazards does HACCP address
- These include food poisoning bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, Salmonella and E. Coli. These three are particularly dangerous because they can survive improper cooking, multiply very quickly in the right conditions and also spread from raw foods to cooked foods.
- These hazards can present themselves in the form of pesticides or cleaning residues.
Can include contamination from foreign bodies like glass, wood, metal and hair.
Developing a HACCP plan
For a HACCP plan to be implemented successfully, the management of a company must be strongly committed to its concepts and principles. The onus is on them to establish a plan that describes a employees responsibility or developing, implementing and maintaining the HACCP system.
Firstly you should assemble a HACCP team that consists of key individuals who have a detailed understanding and expertise of the organisations unique products and processes.
This team will be responsible for putting together the initial plan and for seeing that it is implemented. An important aspect in ensuring that the plan operates smoothly is to make sure that and teams involved have the appropriate training to carry it out.
The assembled team should now describe in detail their companies operation in relation to areas such as ingredients, distribution and refrigeration etc. They have to determine the product lines and distribution channels that should be included in the HACCP plan.
They should now describe the intended use of the food, for instance the consumers who will purchase and consume it i.e. infants, elderly or teenagers etc.
Create a flow diagram that is gives a simple and clear outline of the steps involved in the food process of the company. It should include all areas of the food chain process and be accurate and fully complete.
At this stage you can apply the seven principles of HACCP (see below).
The seven principles of HACCP
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is based on the following seven principles:
Identify any hazards
Do this by carrying out an analysis.
Identify the critical control points (CCPs)
These are key points where a potential hazard could occur, and which can also be monitored, prevented or controlled.
Establish critical limits at CCPs
If these are reached then action must be taken.
Establish procedures to monitor the CCPs
This should include working instructions and procedures that outline the tasks of employees monitoring each CCP. With accurate monitoring you can evaluate and ensure that each CCP does not exceed the limits set for it.
Establish corrective actions to be taken if a CCP exceeds its limited
Have set procedures in place and ready to be executed.
Establish procedures to verify whether the above procedures are working effectively
Keep accurate monitoring, assessment and deviation records as these can provide the basis for audit checks and possibly provide evidence of due diligence in the event of any legal action.
Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures to validate that the HACCP system is working effectively
Supervisors and managers should regularly review HACCP plan, CCP records and critical limits to confirm everything is running smoothly
Documentation in HACCP
Accurate record keeping and documents is an important part of HACCP and overall food safety management.
HACCP training courses