Numerous local and international regulatory authorities help to ensure food safety. The food produced must be fit for human consumption- safe from farm to the fork. Food safety is ensured by taking various safety measures during handling, preparation, and storage of food. Food safety is a global concern that requires strict measures to prevent food contamination of any sort.
One such food safety management system is the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) which addresses the concern of food safety.
What is HACCP?
The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is an internationally recognized management safety system for identifying and managing food safety-related risks. This ensures that the food is free from any contaminations that may occur during the time of raw material production, handling, manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the final product.
The HACCP analyzes and controls all biological, chemical, and physical hazards, associated with the various processes involved in food production. The HACCP is a part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its compliance is deemed necessary for every food facility in the US, in addition to a few other management safety systems.
Why use the HACCP?
The HACCP is extremely important to conduct hazard analysis associated with any food facility. The HACCP helps to prevent food-borne illnesses, and eliminate the chances of food poisoning and hospitalization of the consumers. Food produced from the farm to the fork must be free from any food safety hazards. Being a prevention-based system, the HACCP ensures food safety.
What is the goal of HACCP?
The main goal of HACCP is to prevent, eliminate, or reduce any biological, chemical, or physical hazards associated with any food facility. This helps to keep foodborne illnesses at bay and makes the food safe for the consumption of the public health.
How does the HACCP achieve its goal?
The HACCP process has a systemic approach to the prevention of food-borne illnesses. It identifies and evaluates the risk, and then takes necessary measures to control the food safety hazard. This is achieved by:
- Assembling the HACCP team
- Describing the food facility
- Identifying the consumers and users
- Developing a flow diagram to describe the production process
Any hazards identified during this procedure are addressed accordingly.
What are the Seven HACCP Principles?
All food facilities are required to comply with the seven principles of the HACCP. These HACCP principles are based upon the following:
1. Conduct a hazard analysis
All the processes are evaluated thoroughly to identify all the places and processes where hazards can occur. First, the hazards are identified and then they are evaluated. Once that is done, the critical control points (CCP) are identified.
2. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCP)
For each CCP identified, you must have a preventative measure in place. The controls you apply to the various processes, to prevent or eliminate the hazards are the CCPs. They may include temperature, pH, time, etc.
3. Establish critical limits
Once the CCPs have been identified, you must establish their critical limits. For example, setting the maximum and minimum temperature limits to control the hazards.
4. Establish monitoring procedures
All processes at the CCPs must be monitored, and their records must be maintained. This ensures the effectiveness of the HACCP program.
5. Establish corrective actions
If a critical limit is not met, you need to take certain actions. This prevents the release of any unsafe products into the market.
6. Establish verification procedures
Once the HACCP plan is implemented, it must be verified. Verification ensures that the HACCP principles are being implemented and are effective in controlling food-borne illnesses. They must be reviewed timely, and if any modifications are required to the HACCP plan, they must be made. The verification process involves:
This is done within the first 90 days of implementation of the HACCP principles. This ensures that the system is adequate to control any safety hazards.
This verification is conducted continuously, to ensure that the entire system is functioning properly.
This ensures if the system needs any modifications to remain effective in complying with the HACCP principles.
7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
Record keeping addresses the regulatory requirements and helps to show that all your critical limits have been met, and your food facility is working in compliance with the HACCP system. This prevents any regulatory authority from taking legal action against you since you would be able to prove the effectiveness of your system.
How to Conduct a Hazard Analysis?
Conducting a hazard analysis requires you to analyze every step of your food facility, from handling raw materials until the time the final product is consumed by the consumer. This is the first HACCP principle. You must categorize the food safety hazards into the following categories:
- Physical (glass, stones, metal, bone, plastic, needles, wood, insects, insulation, etc.)
- Chemical (pesticides, antibiotics, fertilizers, nitrate, lubricants, sanitizers, etc.)
- Microbiological (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Hemorrhagic E. coli, Listeria Monocytogenes, etc.)
If you own a restaurant, you can still categorize all hazards according to the above-mentioned categories. These are universal rules that you can apply to any food facility, to make the most out of the HACCP principles.
The Critical Control Points
What is the Critical Control Point?
The Critical Control Point is a step or procedure in a food manufacturing process, which can be controlled, and as a result, it prevents, eliminates, or reduces a food safety hazard.
How is the CCP calculated?
Not every point identified is a CCP. Some logical decisions have to be made in determining the CCP. These factors include:
- Would control at this particular step is necessary for safety?
- Would control at this step eliminate or reduce the chances of a hazard from occurring?
- Would contamination occur in excess?
- Would the subsequent steps eliminate or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level?
What are the examples of the Critical Control Points?
CCPs include those values, which can be measured and controlled. These include time, temperature, water activity, and pH value. Once these values are controlled, you can establish corrective action.
CCPs for pathogens include:
- Acid rinses
How to establish Corrective Action?
For any deviations seen, you must address the disposition, identify, and take action against the cause. Ensure the control of CCP is taken care of, and if need be, the HACCP plan must be modified. If during the deviations, any products are manufactured, ensure that they are destroyed and not released into the market.
Guidelines for the HACCP Principles
The HACCP principles must be implemented in a certain way to help optimize their efficacy. If these guidelines are followed vigilantly, food-borne diseases and other food hazards would be kept at bay. The HACCP principles are universally accepted by various government agencies, trade associations, and the food industries around the world. The following guidelines help in the implementation of effective HACCP plans.
1. Prerequisite Programs
The prerequisite programs provide the basic environmental and operating conditions that are required for the production of safe food. The Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene describes all the basic conditions and practices that are essential for foods to be sold in the international market. The HACCP team may incorporate certain aspects of the prerequisite program in the HACCP plan.
2. Education and Training
The employees should be educated and trained thoroughly through specific training activities. This ensures that the employees are well-aware of the importance of implementing the HACCP principles. Effective training of your employees is highly essential for the successful implementation of the HACCP principles.
3. Developing a HACCP Plan
Developing a HACCP plan requires the assembly of a HACCP team, comprising of individuals who have the specific knowledge and expertise to help in developing a plan for your food facility.
The team must be able to conduct a hazard analysis and identify all the potential hazards and help control them. The HACCP team should also be able to implement all the HACCP principles to your food facility and form a HACCP plan for your facility.
Benefits of using CMMS for the HACCP Compliance
The compliance of the HACCP principles ensures that the food produced by your facility is safe from any flood hazards. To prove your compliance to the regulatory authorities, you must have a record of proper documentation, to save yourself from any legal actions that could be taken against you. Maintaining and keeping records on paper can be a very tiresome job. A Computerized Maintenance Management System can help you implement and maintain the HACCP principles. Benefits include:
- Auto-generate emails when the CCPs fall outside the predefined boundaries
- Take immediate action when failure is detected
- Define the parameter of operation for each asset
- Track your work history
- Provides easy access to instructions and other compliance documents to your employees
- Generate reports for audits and inspections
EcoDocs for the HACCP Compliance
EcoDocs, powered by Folio3, provides its users with a cloud-based CMMS software that can organize, track, and schedule all your maintenance tasks. You can digitize all your maintenance work and get real-time information regarding all your tasks. With EcoDocs, you can simplify your maintenance management and comply with all the HACCP principles.