HACCP for Small Business

HACCP template for small business serves as a helping tool when managing food safety hazards. All procedures of food safety management must be based on the principles of HACCP.

It involves the following:

  • Closely looking at what you are doing in your business, what mistakes could happen, and what are the potential risks in terms of food safety.
  • Ensuring the Critical Control Points (CCP) are identified in the areas where your business requires focus to eliminate or minimize those risks.
  • Deciding actions that you must take if in case something goes wrong.
  • Making sure that the pre-defined procedures are being followed and are giving positive results.
  • Keeping records to show that your procedures are working as planned.

Guidelines for the Application of the HACCP System to Small and/or Less Developed Businesses

The Codex Alimentarius Commission in the Recommended International Code of Practice – General Principles of Food and Hygiene, defines these guidelines to advise on HACCP principles’ application in small and/or less developed businesses (SLDBs). The development of these guidelines helps to understand that the seven principles of HACCP can be flexibly applied in SLDBs, given that relevant prerequisites and adequate support are in place.

Consideration must also be given to the constraints and level of resources throughout the food chain in SLDBs.

Prerequisite Programmes (PRP)

For implementing HACCP successfully for food businesses must be operating in accordance with the Codex General Principles of Food and Hygiene, Codex Recommended Codes of Practice, and food safety legislation, as part of (PRPs) Prerequisites Programs. At times when it might become hard to develop a critical limit, but control is important at all costs (for instance: personal hygiene), the concerned control measure must be dealt with within the PRPs.

Management Commitment

For the implementation and maintenance of a functional HACCP system, management commitment is important. It should be communicated to individuals involved, and it is a must to keep it clear who will be responsible for developing the HACCP plan for small business. However, in medium to large scale industries, it is better to nominate a HACCP coordinator.

Management commitment should also encompass training for staff and managers for maintaining basic food hygiene and proper implementation of HACCP for small business. Also, it must include validation of various elements of the HACCP plan to make sure its implementation is effective.

Preliminary Procedures

Team Approach To HACCP for Small Business

The traditional approach to HACCP speaks for a team approach while utilizing all external and in house expertise and resources to design and develop the HACCP plan for small business. In SLDBs, the complete expertise range might not be available within the industry as a result of which business managers might have to look for support outside. For instance:

  • HACCP literature.
  • Approved guidance documents.
  • Regulatory authorities.
  • Academia and other types of independent experts.
  • Industry associations.

A team-based approach might not always imply a range of expertise or people who must be hired at a high cost. It is also possible that a well-trained in-house staff having the necessary skills and approved guide can ensure the implementation of the HACCP plan.

Describe The Processes And Products To Be Covered

When it comes to the implementation of the HACCP for small business, the plan’s scope must be defined beforehand carefully. This can mean all or one of the below mentioned:

  • Specific individual products
  • Groups of products having identical characteristics (for instance: presenting similar risks); and
  • Processing steps used for a range of similar products.

It might be essential to focus on individual products and identify information related to food safety such as presentations, treatment, composition, chemical/physical structure, etc. based on the product.

Moreover, when it comes to small businesses with multi-product such as catering, focusing on products having identical characteristics might be simpler. It is better to categorize products clearly and correctly.

It is essential to consider the product’s intended use, such as its handling by the consumer or end-user. In some cases, considering the vulnerable groups proves to be essential. However, if a business is making use of an approved guide, it must be specific to the food and/or processes that are under consideration.

Describe And Confirm Processes

For the application of HACCP to any SLDB, it is a must to describe the steps of processing. Usually, a flow diagram helps in this regard and can be done for each product individually. However, when it comes to a large product range, such a procedure might not help much. In situations like these, the diagram explains the processing of categorized groups of products that are classified based on risk factors that require similar processes.

Another approach that is used to describe the processing operations can be achieved without putting specific focus on types of products. This is where the flow diagram might focus on operational procedures like receipt of materials, storage, handling, thermal processing, preparation, serving, etc. give that the risk profiles of various products are the same.

Defining processes enable managers, food handlers, and owners to develop a better understanding of the materials’ flow. This way, a foundation for systematic flow is established for the application of HACCP that covers all sorts of food operations from their receipt to getting delivered to end-users.

They allow responsible individuals to perform easier identification of contamination routes and control methods of critical control points (CCPs). It can also prove to be helpful in system verification.

Application of the HACCP Principles for SLDBs

Principle 1: Conduct A Hazard Analysis

It is necessary to conduct a hazard analysis to identify any potential safety risks that might occur at any step of the process. These hazards can have microbiological nature, chemical nature, and/or physical nature.

When conducting a hazard analysis, the SLDB can use or consult to any sector-specific guide or database that contains necessary information regarding hazards that are relevant to the product or process, or they can also use any external expertise.

However, the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that all potential hazards are identified and evaluated.

The following point must be considered when performing hazard analysis:

  • Hazards’ likely occurrence and the intensity of their unfavorable health effects.
  • The survival or multiplication of concerned micro-organisms.
  • The quantitative or qualitative evaluation of the occurrence of potential hazards.
  • Persistence or production in foods of physical or chemical agents, or toxins.
  • The quality of raw materials.
  • Conditions that lead to all the above.
  • Identifying control measures.

Principle 2: Determine The Critical Control Points (CCPs)

For determining the critical control points, it is necessary to follow a logical consideration of every step relating to controlling hazards. When it comes to determining if a process or step is a CCP, it is a must for an SLDB to consider whether it can apply control at that process or step and if a control loss at that step will lead to the potential hazard.

There can be multiple CCPs where the application of control might be required for addressing similar hazards. In a HACCP system for small business, CCP can be determined through the application of a decision tree. However, it requires training, and it can be used to take guidance. Moreover, the application of a decision tree might not be possible in all situations but using it can maximize transparency and helps in verification.

Principle 3: Establish Critical Limits

For safety purposes, critical limits must be defined for each critical control point, and these must be realistic and sufficient to offer necessary assurances regarding food safety. Observable and measurable criteria that are used to define critical limits might include measuring tie, pH, temperature, and level of chlorine. However, when it comes to sensory evaluation, it might not be the ideal tool for assessing critical limits.

Principle 4: Establish A System To Monitor Control Of The CCP

For ensuring that the critical steps are under control, monitoring is essential. It helps to identify when and where a control loss has occurred or whether there is a trend towards a loss of control. It also helps to identify the corrective actions that are required to maintain or restore control.

The procedures of monitoring must assist in detecting loss of control at the critical control points. The monitoring frequency must be enough to provide a guarantee that all products reaching the consumers must be safe. Monitoring is the individual establishment’s responsibility and the following questions must be addressed when developing a monitoring procedure:

  • What parameters are being measures, and what are the critical limits?
  • How to monitor it?
  • When and how frequently the CCP will be monitored?
  • Who will monitor it?
  • Is the procedure for monitoring is reliable and practical?

Principle 5: Establish The Corrective Action

Certain corrective actions must be developed for individual CCP. These corrective actions will have to define the requirements to keep the CCP under control and make sure that no unsafe food product enters the market.

Corrective actions include:

  • Steps for correction of the problem
  • Steps to deal with the product that is affected.

All corrective actions must be clearly defined and understood by all individuals responsible for their implementation. It is essential to document and communicate all corrective actions to the management for modifying the system.

When the system fails to meet any critical limit, it is a must to carry out a corrective action immediately. Therefore, the staff responsible for the implementation must be properly trained to prevent any delays.

Principle 6: Establish Verification Procedures

For determining whether the HACCP system for your small business is working properly and correctly, it is necessary to carry out verification. The need for verification also appears for several other reasons, such as changes in the processes that have potential safety consequences.

The manager of the establishment, supervisor, or the person responsible for a certain monitoring activity performs verification.

For having functional verification procedures for an SLDB, all methodologies must be easy to perform and record. And it can be performed at a certain frequency that proves that the HACCP plan is being followed for the following reasons:

  • Reduce the risk of unsafe and adulterated product from reaching the consumers.
  • Reduce the number of affected products that require corrective actions.

The verification activities must ensure:

  • Pre-defined activities are being correctly followed.
  • The team responsible for the implementation of the HACCP plan has all the necessary facilities and tools for sanitary practices and personal hygiene.
  • Calibrations are conducted as required by the equipment’s requirements.
  • Procedures for control are being followed.

Principle 7: Establish Documentation

All procedures of HACCP must be documented. Accurate record-keeping and documentation are necessary for the application of the HACCP system and they must be sufficient for enabling businesses to be confident that all controls are in place and being maintained.

It is a must to record all documents that relate to procedures of critical control limits and corrective actions. The record-keeping system utilizes existing paperwork such as checklists, delivery invoices, etc.

Examples of documentation:

  • Hazard analysis.
  • CCP determination.
  • Critical limit determination.

Copies of the materials must be kept that are used as guides for the proper implementation of the HACCP system for small business

Example of records:

  • Monitoring activities
  • Corrective actions.
  • Verification procedures.

Validation Of The HACCP System For Small Business

During the application of the HACCP system, a range of activities are required for validating that the HACCP plan’s elements are functional and effective. These activities must be performed at all stages of the implementation. The validation responsibility varies depending on the size and nature of the business and resources’ availability.

It can happen that an SLDB might not have the expertise required for the validation as a result of which SLDB might need to utilize externally validated data that can be found in national standards, legal requirements, etc.

Benefits Of Using CMMS For HACCP Compliance

CMMS, such as EcoDocs, allows seamless and error-free documentation. It enables users to store all types of data for catalogs of spare parts to the values of the storeroom. Additionally, it offers the staff to remain up to date will all audits and inspections along with having access to real-time data and accurate records.

EcoDocs helps to:

  • Highlight operation boundaries that are acceptable
  • Track work history
  • Generate automated reports
  • Offer better customization
  • Store all your record in one place
  • Perform inspection and audits
  • Offer instant access to compliance documents and instruction manuals.

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