If you’re involved in food/beverage production and have food safety responsibilities, you’re required to fulfill Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP, compliance requirements (see 21 CFR parts 120 and 123).
HACCP is a systematic and preventive food safety approach intended to avoid the introduction or and/or contamination of food by biological, chemical, and physical hazards rather than simply inspecting food products after their production to determine if they have been contaminated (this is somewhat similar to the “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound full of cure” adage).
Enjoy learning more about HACCP and it’s important role in food safety, and don’t forget to download the free 7 Tools of Quality download we’ve provided for you at the bottom of this article as well.
Hazard analysis and critical control points has an interesting origin story. You can trace its history back to the production of artillery shells during WWII and attempts to reduce the number of artillery shells that were duds or misfired (for those in the know, this involved failure mode and effects analysis, or FMEA). After that, it was more fully developed in the 1960s when NASA asked food producers Pillsbury to create food for space missions. From there, it developed more wide-spread usage at Pillsbury in their commercial food products (including farina used in baby food). Later still, the US FDA asked Purina to provide training on inspection of canned foods for FDA inspectors after a botulism scare. This 1969 training program Pillsbury created for the FDA was called “Food Safety through the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System” and it’s the first time HACCP was used.
HACCP is now commonly used in the production of food, beverages, and even cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Although HACCP is focused on food safety, it’s also a basis for many food quality assurance systems as well.
Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) is based on seven principles, as explained below.
Create a plan to identify food safety hazards and appropriate preventive measures for each hazard. Remember that a food safety hazard includes any biological, chemical, or physical property that can cause food to be unsafe for consumption by humans.
Identify the critical control point in your food production process. A critical control point is a point, procedure, or step at which you can apply a control and therefore eliminate, prevent, or reduce to a acceptable level the food safety hazard(s) you’ve identified.
At each critical control point you’ve identified, determine the maximum or minimum value for the physical, biological, or chemical hazards.
You’ll need to monitor conditions at each critical control point in your food production process to ensure you’ve staying within your critical limits. Create a monitoring procedure for doing so (in the US, you’re required to document the procedure and frequency in your HACCP plan by the US FDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS).
If there’s a deviation from your critical limits, you’ll need to implement corrective actions. At this step of the HACCP process, determine the actions to be taken in each instance a critical limit is not met. These corrective actions should ensure that no product would injure a person’s health or be otherwise adulterated if the deviation does enter commerce.
You’ll need to create a process to validate that your HACCP program is working and that you’re producing a safe food product. Validation can include reviewing the HACCP plan, CCP records, and critical limits as well as performing microbial sampling and analysis. Verification tasks are performed by both FSIS inspectors (in the US) as well as by plant personnel.
Finally, create procedures to complete and store records of your HACCP processes. This includes your hazard analysis and your written HACCP plan as well as records documenting critical control points, critical limits, verification activities, and how you’ve handled all deviations identified.
HACCP is included in the ISO 22000 standard for food safety management. Read our article on ISO 22000 for more on that standard.
We hope you found this brief introduction to the HACCP method for food safety useful and helpful. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to check out our Training Solutions for the Food and Beverage industries.
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