The HACCP principles assist food handlers in developing a systematic approach to food safety and hazard control.
Food safety is a serious matter. It is important to you and your customers, not only because it affects their lives but also because it makes sense financially and in terms of time. You will want to ensure that the food produced or prepared by your company is safe for human consumption, as well as is hygienically sound.
What We Will Cover:
What is HACCP?
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a controlling system designed to ensure food safety by analysing and controlling hazards in a step-by-step process. “Hazard” means any factor reasonably likely to cause illness or injury without its control.
This food safety system regulates the critical control points in a food production process. CCPs can include anything from raw materials to finished products, raw ingredients, packaging materials, cooking equipment, storage facilities, and transportation means used by your organisation or business
HACCP is a Prevention-Based Food Safety System
HACCP is a system that focuses on the identification of food safety hazards in a step-by-step process. The primary aim of the HACCP guideline is to monitor and prevent any problems. Therefore, food businesses are encouraged to adopt a proactive approach by developing HACCP guidelines to avoid food safety hazards instead of reacting to food safety hazards.
HACCP Regulates Critical Points
The Critical Control Points (CCPs) identify each hazard that could occur during processing, manufacturing or handling activities. For example, raw materials used in making products or ingredients added to them, equipment used in processes like cooking and pasteurisation, and optimum temperature to which the raw materials or finished products are stored at.
CCPs also specify the preventive measures needed to control these hazards at each CCP stage. It will ensure that the food is safe and that no contamination is added at any stage.
What are the 07 Principles of HACCP?
HACCP is a set of guidelines for identifying and controlling potential biological, chemical and physical hazards. If you are a food handler, the following steps will guide you on what to do if you implement a HACCP plan.
The first two steps establish the foundations of the HACCP plan, while the rest are the application of this plan that provides the operational structure and a set of instructions/ measures to avoid any possible divergence.
- Perform a Hazard Analysis to determine which risks need to be avoided, eliminated or minimised.
- Find Critical Control Points where the control is vital to avoid, eliminate or reduce the hazards.
- Define Critical Limits and make processes to avoid, eliminate or reduce the hazards at Critical Control Points to ensure that the food is safe.
- Set up a Monitoring System and define the monitoring processes and procedures at CCPs.
- Define Clear Remedial Measures that could be enforced during the monitoring process.
- Establish Verification Procedures to ensure that the monitoring plan is working effectively.
- Define Record Keeping Procedures to document your work to ensure food safety.
Let’s dive deep to understand the aim of these principles and how each principle will be helping businesses, especially food handlers, to ensure the safety of food.
HACCP Principle. 01 – Perform a Hazard Analysis
The very first step in HACCP guidelines is the analysis of potential hazards. At this stage, the team will list all the potential risks associated with their product. We can further divide this into two sub-categories, i.e. Hazard Identification and Hazard Analysis.
Accurate identification of hazards is the most important aspect while developing a HACCP plan. It is crucial to identify the potential dangers and check any possibility of illness/damage to understand if it needs to be considered in a HACCP plan. Any undisclosed or anonymous hazard could result in food safety issues in the future.
After identifying hazards, the next step is carefully evaluating all potential risks. The teams must have extensive technical knowledge to determine the severity of the possible hazards and the frequency of occurrence of each hazard to treat them as a threat.
HACCP Principle. 02 – Find Critical Control Points
The second step in the process of HACCP is to find the Critical Control Points required to keep any product safe and free from any health risks. Critical Control Points for products and processes vary substantially from one another. Businesses must follow these principles and monitor processes to control the identified hazards.
Maintaining food temperature for potentially hazardous food is a practical example of a Critical Control Point. Such foods must be kept under temperature control to minimise the growth of any bacteria (that are present in the food) or to prevent the formation of toxic elements in the food.
HACCP Principle. 03 – Define Critical Limits
After identifying the Critical Control Points, the next step is establishing Critical Limits (maximum or minimum values) that are required to maintain a safe environment and prevent, eliminate or reduce food safety hazards to an acceptable level.
In case Critical Limits are not met, your business may face severe consequences for serving unsafe food and penalties from regulatory authorities due to serious food safety issues and severe health effects.
Let’s look at an example: cooking various types of raw meat requires food handlers to adhere to recommended internal cooking temperatures. Cooking poultry meat requires an internal temperature of 165° F (74° C) as a critical limit, but cooking beef requires just 160° F (71° C).
HACCP Principle. 04 – Setup a Monitoring System
This HACCP principle requires developing a comprehensive and precise monitoring system that can record important information for your food service operations and serve as control measures. A careful monitoring plan is essential to monitor crucial limit deviations.
Critical limits and necessary preventative controls must be included in the relevant monitoring records for future reference.
These monitoring records can then be utilised to determine whether any point of food operation needs improvements or replacement, or if further preventative controls are required. The protocols for CCP monitoring must be clear, precise and effective. Decisions and remedial actions will be based on the data on your monitoring sheets.
HACCP Principle. 05 – Define Clear Remedial Measures
The HACCP food safety program cannot completely eliminate the tendency toward loss of control and the occurrence of deviations; rather, it can only be minimised.
Undoubtedly, there will be deviations. When a critical limit is exceeded, it is vital to perform prompt corrective actions. These actions are the measures that are initiated due to non-compliance and to avoid the out-of-control situation.
Corrective actions are essential in HACCP food safety plans to prevent the manufacturing or production of non-compliant goods. The aim is to minimise the losses due to deviation from critical limits, which may result in the complete disposal of unsafe food products.
HACCP Principle. 06 – Establish Verification Procedures
Once you have developed your HACCP plan, you must ensure it works correctly. This principle of the HACCP process includes verification activities of hazard evaluation, identification procedure of such hazards, how these are monitored, and what corrective actions are initiated.
This verification activity ensures that everyone in the team follows the current HACCP plan correctly. This activity can also help identify any modifications or operational changes needed to reevaluate any food safety hazards that may have developed over time and were not included in the current HACCP system.
HACCP Principle. 07 -Define Record Keeping Procedures
Maintaining concrete record-keeping and documentation procedures for all aspects of the HACCP plan is vital. HACCP plan also serves as a tool to trace any divergence and identify potential problem areas, food safety issues or any activity that could create unsafe products.
This documentation and compilation would also be needed for regular audits to assess whether the HACCP plan is still effective in the organisation and whether the team complies with the standards.
The Most Critical Part of a HACCP Plan
Proper hazard identification is the most crucial component of developing and implementing a standard HACCP strategy. While developing the strategy, failure to identify a single hazard can lead to severe issues like consumer complaints, product recall or even product loss. Any of these can damage your company’s reputation, cause financial losses, and lead directly to lawsuits against your company.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you want to learn more about the seven HACCP principles? Here are some frequently asked questions about the subject.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point
The most crucial principle in the HACCP plan is hazard analysis. This crucial practice identifies the biological, chemical or physical hazards that may occur during each stage of your production process.
Keeping accurate records can assist you in ensuring important limitations are met, documenting any corrective measures taken, and allowing adjustments to be made. Importantly, in the event of a legal action, they will serve as the necessary proof of due diligence to defend your company.
The HACCP plan comprises seven principles to establish a preventive program to control food safety hazards.
Any stage in which hazards can be prevented, eliminated, or minimised to acceptable levels is a critical control point. CCPs are often practices or processes that, when not followed appropriately, are the major causes of foodborne disease outbreaks.
A HACCP certification is given to a food business that has a thorough HACCP plan and has gone through a rigorous assessment.
HACCP certification proves that you have effective control over food safety. HACCP certification is given to those who follow the international food standard requirements.