HACCP plan is an internationally recognized procedure to identify and manage food and safety-related risks. It, when it becomes a part of a food and safety program, provides the customers, regulatory authorities, and the public, certain assurances that tell the program is well-developed and carefully managed.

It is a plan developed to control and manage hazards that occur in the food manufacturing industry. There are many benefits of HACCP certification such as:

  • By using a HACCP plan, manufacturers ensure that the products being produced are of high quality.
  • This plan provides security by protecting consumers from any sort of foodborne illness.
  • It helps to minimize product recalls and helps companies to save their money as it protects them from huge fines and lawsuits.

HACCP Record Keeping

Record keeping is a crucial principle of HACCP. Its implementation is needed to get HACCP certification. Business owners and line managers can benefit from accurate record-keeping as they can efficiently track all of their previously produced food products and all the implemented corrective actions. Record keeping provides major help to prove consistency in HACCP compliance.

Developing A HACCP Plan

There are five important steps to follow for developing an effective HACCP Plan.

Identification Of The Involved

Start with assembling a team. Remember, the goal is to form a multidisciplinary team. It should have people from all departments of your facility. For example, you must have people from the production and purchasing department, shipping and receiving, sanitation, maintenance, R&D, QA, and so on.

Describing The Product And Its Purpose

Assign your team with a task to describe the food product and its use. Ensure that the processing methods and means of distribution are discussed carefully.

Understand Your Target Customers

Define your target consumers, such as elderly, pregnant women, infants, etc. This helps you understand the scope of the product, and you will be able to distribute your product efficiently.

Creating A Flow Diagram

To understand the product and the production processes, it is better to create a HACCP flow diagram. A flow diagram enables you to highlight and outline all steps of your plan.

Verifying The Diagram

Once you are done creating a flow diagram, it is time to evaluate the completeness and accuracy of your diagram. You can do it by running inspections on your actual work operations.

Establishing A HACCP Team

A HACCP team is a group of individuals from different areas of a facility who have just the right amount of skills and knowledge that is required for developing and implementing a HACCP based food safety program.

What Does This Team Do?

The team is responsible for developing, managing, and implementing the HACCP plan. It includes the development and implementation of procedures and actions based on:

  • The Preliminary steps of HACCP.
  • The Seven Principles of HACCP.
  • Basic support programs.

Remember, a successful and well-managed HACCP program is a result of teamwork and not the outcome of an individual’s efforts.

Who Is In the HACCP Team?

This team includes people from all departments of a business i.e. people from cleaning, management, maintenance, to packing, customer service, stores, and supply management. Every area of a facility is included in the development and implementation of a HACCP plan. This team must know about:

  • How does manufacturing business work?
  • How are the food products produced?
  • What risks are involved?
  • What can be done to minimize risks?
  • HACCP and food safety compliance requirements.

Writing A HACCP Plan

Assemble a Team

Start with organizing a team that will be responsible for the development and implementation of your HACCP plan. This team will have people from all departments of your food manufacturing facility. These departments may include:

  • Engineering
  • Production
  • Sanitation
  • Quality assurance
  • Food microbiology

You might also need the help of industry experts who have any prior experience of dealing with such hazards. They can work as consultants for your team.

Define Your Product

The team will begin by providing a general description of the product, its ingredients, and the methods of processing. They will further discuss distribution methods and in what form the product will be distributed, i.e., refrigerated, frozen, or at normal temperature.

Identify Your Target Consumers

After describing the product, its uses, and means of distribution, move forward to your target consumers and the strategies that you will be using to attract those people, such as infants, young adults, women, men, etc.

Creating A Flow Diagram

A flow diagram clearly outlines all of the steps that are involved in the process. It does not need to be a complex drawing; you just have to explain the workflow step by step, indicating the steps one after another. This diagram helps to understand the process flow.

On-Site Confirmation of Flow Diagram

The team must perform an on-site operation review to verify the completeness and accuracy of the flow diagram and check whether any modifications are required. After the five preliminary steps are completed, it is time to apply the following seven principles of HACCP:

Conduct Hazard Analysis – Principle 1

The HACCP team works to perform a hazard analysis and highlight the correct control measures. The team must outline all associated potential risks at every step of their analysis.

Note: A hazard is a biological, physical, or chemical agent that causes injury or illness when it is not controlled or monitored, i.e., safety and quality checks and concerns.

Hazar Analysis involves two steps:

Hazard Identification – This stage requires brainstorming. Here the HACCP team reviews all the ingredients that are used in the making of the product and all the other activities associated with a product that is related to its quality. Such as equipment that is used, the processes it has undergone, storage methods, distribution methods, and target consumers.

Based on this review, the HACCP team creates a list of potential chemical, biological, or physical hazards that can appear, controlled, and eliminated at every step of the production process.

Hazard Evaluation – In this stage, the HACCP team works to evaluate the likelihood and severity of every potential hazard that can occur and determines those that should be addressed in the HACCP plan.

After the hazard analysis is completed, all the identified hazards must be listed along with the measures to prevent them from occurring. Control measure is a term that is used because not all hazards can be dealt with and prevented. However, they can be virtually controlled.

Determine Critical Control Points (CCPs) – Principle 2

A critical control point is a step that can be applied to prevent or eliminate any food safety hazard to a justifiable extent. The hazards that may cause injury or illness in their control’s absence should be addressed in this step.

One common strategy that is used to identify every CCP is using a Critical Control point decision tree. Remember, this is only a tool and not a building block of HACCP. Neither is it a substitute or alternative for expert’s knowledge.

Examples of CCPs can include:

  • Chilling
  • Thermal processing        
  • Product formulation control
  • Testing ingredients for traces of chemical residues
  • Testing product for traces of metal contaminants

The development and implementation of CCPs require extra care and attention. Additionally, they should only be used for food safety purposes. Other facilities that are producing similar products can have different hazards, and thus, their CCPs would vary from yours. This is all because of the difference in every facility’s equipment, layout, processes used, ingredients, etc.

Establishing Critical Limits for Each CCP – Principle 3

It is a minimum or maximum value to which a chemical, biological, or physical hazard can be controlled using a CCP to eliminate, prevent, or reduce it to a certain justifiable level. A critical limit helps to distinguish between unsafe and safe conditions of operating at a CCP. Critical limits must not be confused with any other sort of operational limits that are outlined for other purposes rather than for food safety.

Every CCP will hold some measures to assure that the highlighter hazards can be eliminated, prevented, or reduced to certain justifiable levels. Every control measure has some critical limits. These limits are based on one or more than one of the following factors:

  • Temperature
  • Time
  • Physical dimensions
  • Humidity
  • Moisture level
  • Water activity
  • pH
  • Titratable acidity
  • Salt concentration
  • Available chlorine
  • Viscosity
  • Preservatives
  • Sensory information such as aroma, visual appearance

Critical limits should be scientifically based. EACH CCP must meet at least one food safety criterion. The criteria and critical limits for food safety might be derived from various sources such as regulatory standards and guidelines, experimental results, literature surveys, and experts.

Establishing a Monitoring System for Each CCP – Principle 4

Monitoring is a planned sequence of measurements or observations, and it is done to access whether or not a CCP is controlled. It helps to produce records to use in further verification.

There are three main purposes of monitoring:

  • It helps to track the operation. Monitoring can indicate a trend towards profit or loss, and thus, it helps to take certain actions to control the process before it deviates from the decided critical limit.
  • It enables you to determine whenever a deviation and loss of control occurs at a CCP—for example, not meeting or exceeding the limit. If a deviation occurs, it can be controlled by taking corrective actions.
  • It offers written documentation that can be used in verification.

What Will Be Monitored?

  • Temperature
  • Flow rate
  • pH/acid level
  • Water activity
  • Metal detection
  • Screen integrity
  • Formulation sheet
  • Glass breakage
  • Machine wear
  • Visible rot

Usually, monitoring must be continuous, and it is possible with various types of chemical and physical methods. When feasible, continuous monitoring is preferred. The equipment used for monitoring must be calibrated carefully for accuracy.

When continuous monitoring of a CCP cannot be performed, it is necessary to establish a monitoring frequency and procedure that works to indicate whether CCP is under control.

Establish Corrective Actions – Principle 5

Corrective actions should be planned while in the HACCP developing phase so that, in case, preventive measures fail, corrective actions can prevent potential hazards from happening.

Corrective actions include:

  • Determining and correcting the reason for non-compliance
  • Determining the disposition of the non-compliant product.
  • Recording the already-taken corrective actions

Certain HACCP corrective actions must be developed for every CCP, and they should be included in the HACCP plan. A HACCP plan must address what actions are to be taken when a deviation occurs, who will be responsible for taking these actions and that all of these actions will be recorded to maintain accurate record keeping.

Establishing Verification Procedures – Principle 6

Verification can be referred to as the activities that decide upon the HACCP plan’s validity and determines whether the system is working according to the plan.

A weel-developed HACCP system needs little end-product testing as enough validated safeguards are developed at the beginning of the process. Therefore, instead of relying on testing of end-product, manufacturing facilities should depend on request reviews of their HACCP plan, verification of the plan’s correct implementation, CPP monitoring reviews, and records of corrective actions.

One more essential aspect of verification is the HACCP plan’s initial validation. It is done to determine that the plan is technically and scientifically sound, all hazards have been highlighted, and that proper implementation of the plan will control these potential hazards.

Information required for validation of the HACCP plan often include:

Scientific studies and expert’s advice.

In-plant evaluations, measurements, and observations.

Subsequent validations are required to be performed as well as documented by a HACCP team or an expert. For instance, validations are required when an unexpected system failure occurs, a major product, packaging, or process change happens, or any new hazards are identified.

Establishing Documentation and Record-Keeping – Principle 7

Usually, the records that are maintained for the HACCP system includes the following:

  1. A summary that explains food safety hazard analysis and the rationale to determine hazards ad control measures.
  2. The HACCP Plan
  3. HACCP team and their assigned responsibilities
  4. Description of the food product, distribution, intended use, and target consumers
  5. A verified HACCP flow diagram
  6. HACCP Plan table of summary that includes information for:
  7. Steps in the process that are CCPs
  8. The potential hazards
  9. Critical limits
  10. Monitoring
  11. Correction actions
  12. Verification procedures and its schedule
  13. Record-keeping procedures

HACCP Food Safety Checklist

The following inspections are included in the HACCP food safety audit checklist:

  • All food products prepared or stored on premises from suppliers that are approved
  • Food utensils, equipment, and food contact surfaces are clean and sanitized before every use.
  • Frozen food is defrosted as per sSOP
  • Defrosted food is not frozen again
  • Procedures to prevets cross-contamination
  • Food packaging
  • Food is handled correctly with sanitized hands
  • Food is prepared in short batches to avoid longer cooling times
  • Size and temperature of a sampled batch
  • Food cooked on a required temperature
  • Hot holding units are sanitized
  • Food is heated to the appropriate temperature
  • All hot food discarded after 2 hours of holding
  • Temperatures recorded frequently and properly
  • Discarded food recorded correctly
  • Workers wear uniforms, gloves, and shoes
  • Workers have short fingernails that are unpolished and clean
  • No jewellery
  • Hands are properly washed and sanitized
  • Scars, burns, sores are properly covered with waterproof bandages
  • Drinking, eating, chewing gum is not allowed except in designated areas
  • Workers are in good health and wear facemasks.
  • Employees restrooms are clean
  • No pest activity
  • Garbage is dumped properly
  • Exit doors are properly sealed with a self-closing device
  • Pest control measures are being followed

Use Of A CMMS In HACCP Compliance

A CMMS can help with HACCP compliance in these five ways

For supporting HACCP compliance, a CMMS offers descriptive documentation and provides employees with streamlined access to procedures and safety manuals. It stores spare part catalogs accurately and manages to maintain the values of the storeroom. Moreover, it runs reports for showing data that is needed for audits and inspections. In addition, it helps technicians to stay up-to-date with audit PM tasks and inspection.

Identify Boundaries of Acceptable Operation (Principle 3)

Even the most perfect scheduled maintenance program has the risk of developing undetected faults that can lead to unexpected failures. A CMMS enables you to define a chemical, biological, or physical parameter of operation for every asset. In addition, it auto-generates emails and work orders when a reading deviates from predefined boundaries.

Tracking Work History (Principle 4)

With work order and asset tracking, manufacturers can accurately and closely monitor work procedures. Within an asset’s record, you are enabled to view a complete history of the work order and charges that are related to each asset, including the type of work order, due date, status, and description.

Work History tells who did the work, the duration of work, and all associated documentation. It offers detailed documentation on equipment scheduling and proof of work to track mechanical integrity.

Taking Immediate Action In Response Failure (Principle 5)

A CMMS offers an easy and streamlined way of conducting inspection rounds. It enables technicians to record inspection completions accurately and quickly. Organizations can easily auto-generate corrective work orders if/when equipment fails inspection.

Attaching Documents For Keeping Records and Signature Signoff (Principle 6)

A CMMS allows users to upload necessary documents such as checklists and safety procedures, images, drawings, or any rich media documents. It attaches them to work orders, assets, parts, and contact records.

By providing quick access to instructions and compliance documents to technicians, a CMMS helps to verify procedures and their correct implementation.

Generating Reports and Dashboards (Principle 7)

Using a CMMS can provide you access to personalized reporting and various dashboard tools. You can easily modify reports and create new ones. It is easier to output them as charts, PDFs, texts, and graphs. In addition, you can add them to your dashboards, or you can automatically generate and email them.

A CMMS allows you to show data by running reports that are required for audits and inspections, also generating reports on KPIs for management visibility.

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