HACCP, or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system, is a process control system that identifies where food safety hazards may occur in a food production process and puts into place stringent controls to prevent the hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, there is less chance for hazards to occur and in this way a food business is able to assure the safety of the food products they produce.
HACCP is used internationally and has been adopted by the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme as the best approach to take to control food borne disease. The Codex Alimentarius Commission was been created under this Programme to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts, one of which is the Codex Basic Food Hygiene Texts which contain the 7 Codex Alimentarius HACCP Principles, and details how they can be applied through the adoption of a 12 step logic sequence. Essentially, it is a food safety system consisting of two main components: the pre-requisite programs and the HACCP plan.
HACCP can be applied to all businesses throughout the food chain and forms the basis of a proactive food safety management system. When effectively implemented, HACCP will control biological, physical, chemical and allergen hazards within a food operation.
Implementing a HACCP plan helps assure regulatory authorities and customers that the food business is taking every reasonable precaution to assure food safety. As a proactive approach to managing food safety, it also helps reduce contamination-related food losses and associated costs, and will protect and enhance brands and private labels.
There is no internationally recognized auditing standard for HACCP and while all seven HACCP principles are included in the ISO 22000 standard, HACCP can be implemented as a separate risk management system, or as part of a certification to ISO 9000.
HACCP is a science based systematic system which identifies specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. HACCP is a tool to assess hazards and establish control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying mainly on end-product testing. Any HACCP system must be capable of accommodating change, such as advances in scientific knowledge about food safety hazards, equipment design, processing procedures or technological developments.
HACCP can be applied throughout the food chain from primary production to final consumption and its implementation should be guided by scientific evidence of risks to human health. As well as enhancing food safety, implementation of HACCP can provide other significant benefits. In addition, the application of HACCP systems can aid inspection by regulatory authorities and promote international trade by increasing confidence in food safety.
The successful application of HACCP requires the full commitment and involvement of management and the work force, along with the implementation of Pre-requisite programmes and HACCP. A HACCP system splits down into 4 distinct stages: Design and development of the plan, validation, verification and review.
Before implementing HACCP, food businesses must already be operating to standards of good hygiene practice by having in place appropriate pre-requisites. HACCP can then be used to control steps in the business which are critical in ensuring the preparation of safe food.
Prerequisites include measures to control the following basic environmental operating conditions:
- Cleaning and Disinfection
- Personnel Hygiene and Training
- Pest Control
- Plant and Equipment
- Premises and Structure
- Services (compressed air, ice, steam, ventilation, water etc.)
- Storage, Distribution and Transport
- Waste Management
- Zoning (physical separation of activities to prevent potential food contamination)
- Once the Pre-Requisites have been developed and implemented, the Codex 12 step logic sequence can be used to apply the & Codex HACCP Principles. The codex approach is to identify significant food safety hazards which may occur in the food process and control them.
The 12 step logic sequence is as follows:
- Assemble a HACCP team, with a team leader to lead in designing and implementing HACCP. The team must have a good knowledge of the business. Initially, the team will be required to spend a reasonable amount of time and effort to develop and implement the HACCP system.
- Describe the product(s)
- Define the intended end user
- Draw up a flow diagram to show each step of your operation.
- Validate the flow diagram by walking through the operation to confirm that the flow diagram is correct and check that it covers all the products produced in the particular process being studied.
Once these steps have been completed enough information will have been gathered to apply the 7 Codex principles:
- Identify the hazards - Look at each step (e.g. purchasing, delivery, storage, preparation, thermal processing, chilling etc.) in the food process and identify what can go wrong e.g. Salmonella in a cooked chicken product due to cross contamination with raw meat (microbiological hazard), contamination of uncovered food with detergent (chemical hazard) or a piece of broken glass falling into uncovered food (physical hazard).
- Determine the critical control points (CCPs) - Once hazards have been identified the team must ensure that they are adequately controlled. In general, the majority of hazards are controlled by effective prerequisite programmes, i.e. good hygiene practices. A Critical Control Point (commonly referred to as ‘CCP’) is a step in food processing where a control procedure must be applied to prevent a food safety hazard occurring or reduce it to a safe level. It is the last chance to control a hazard in the process. For example, cooking chicken to a minimum core temperature of 70°C for 2 minutes or equivalent (e.g. 75°C instantaneously) will kill Salmonella and other vegetative pathogens.
- Establish critical limit(s) - Set limits to identify when a CCP is out of control e.g. the temperature at the centre of the chicken following cooking must reach a minimum 70°C for 2 minutes, or equivalent (e.g. 75°C instantaneously).
- Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP - When CCPs and critical limits have been identified it is important to have a way to monitor and record what is happening at each CCP. Typically, monitoring will involve measuring parameters such as temperature and time. Monitoring should in all cases be simple, clear and easy to use e.g. recording the final cooking temperature and time for cooking chicken.
- Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under control When monitoring indicates that a CCP is not under control, corrective action must be taken (e.g. the temperature of cooked meat in a refrigerator rises to >10°C for over 24 hours due to a technical fault in the refrigerator. The cooked meat is destroyed and the refrigerator is repaired by the manufacturer to maintain new cooked meat supplies at the correct temperature of >5°C).
- Establish procedures for verification to confirm the HACCP system is working effectively - The system must be audited regularly and reviewed and whenever changes are made to the operation. If necessary the system may need updating or correcting.
- Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application - For the successful implementation of HACCP, appropriate documentation and records must be kept and be readily available. e.g. cooking temperatures, delivery or cleaning records. It is unrealistic to operate HACCP or to demonstrate compliance with the current legislation without providing evidence such as written records. As with HACCP itself, the complexity of the record keeping will very much depend on the nature and complexity of the business. The aim should be to ensure control is maintained without generating excessive paperwork. The application of HACCP is compatible with the implementation of quality management systems, such as the ISO 9000 series, and is the system of choice in the management of food safety within such systems if ISO 22000 has not been adopted.
|Is HACCP relevant to your organization?
HACCP can be used by any organization directly or indirectly involved in the food chain and pharmaceutical industry including:
- Farms, fisheries and dairies
- Processors of meats, fish and feed
- Manufacturers of all types of food products
- Food service providers such as restaurants, fast food chains, hospitals and hotels and mobile caterers
- Manufacturers of prescription and non-prescription drugs and remedies
Global adoption is difficult to measure as there is no single International HACCP Standard for auditing purposes.
- Improved food safety
- Increased business awareness of food risks
- Greater product and raw ingredient traceability
- Increased buyer and consumer confidence
- Consistency in inspection criteria
- Promotion of internal review of processes
- Supports business leadership through the direction of resources to safety critical elements of the process
- Compliance with food law
- Reduction in complaints
- Reduced risk of negative publicity
- Improved responsiveness to problems through devised corrective action