What is HACCP?

12 March 2018
Posted by Aaron Thomas

What is HACCP?

HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points is a systematic preventive approach used to address food safety through the analysis and control of physical, chemical and biological hazards. It is conducted from raw materials production, procurement, manufacturing, and distribution to consumption of the finished product. It designs measures to eliminate or reduce risks (food hazards) to a safe level that cannot cause harm to the consumer.

History of HACCP

HACCP was developed in the 1950s by a team of engineers and food scientists from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Natick Research Laboratories, and the Pillsbury Company. This team developed a system that would ensure food safety for the manned space program. In 1971, this concept was formally presented by Pillsbury at National Conference on Food Protection sponsored jointly by the American Public Health Association and Food and Drug Administration. Initially, HACCP consisted of three principles. These included determination of the critical control points to control identified hazards, the establishment of a system that identifies and monitors critical control points and hazard identification and assessment in food from farm to fork.

The FDA then incorporated HACCP concept into acidified and low acid food regulations in 1974. The development was in response to the outbreak of Clostridium botulinum poisoning in the canned food products. In 1993, the Codex Alimentarius Commission provided its first HACCP standard thus establishing the first international definition for HACCP. This was followed by formation of other private and national food safety standards. Specifically, it led to the formation of Organizations for International Standard (ISO). Under the HACCP, ISO developed food safety management system (FSMS) programs to ensure safety in the food chain.

Principles of HACCP

HACCP is a systematic approach used to identify, evaluate and control food safety hazards using the following seven principles:

Conducting a hazard analysis

  • The purpose here is to establish a list of hazards that are likely to cause injury if not properly controlled

Determining critical control points (CCP)

  • These points act as steps at which control can be applied to prevent or eliminate food safety hazard.

Establishing critical limits

  • This enables the producer to distinguish between safe and unsafe conditions at CCP.

Establishing monitoring procedures

  • This enhances tracking of operations to note whether the process is positively working under the established CCP.

Establishing corrective actions

  • This step is critical in preventing hazardous foods from reaching the consumers.

Establishing verification procedures

  • This is critical in validating the HACCP plan and confirming the accuracy of the applied plan with respect to its operation

Establishing record keeping and procedures for documentation

  • These records are crucial for further development of the HACCP and for future references.

Guidelines for Application of HACCP principles

For the accurate application of HACCP principles, there is a need for the handling of various tasks. These include:

Establishing a HACCP team

This team should be made of people across a diverse range of disciplines to facilitate identification of all possible hazards and CCPs. The team should be comprised of team leader, specialists from various fields, technical support staff, and technical secretary.

Description of the product.

A complete description of the product including relevant safety information and customer specification is critical for the hazard analysis step. Other critical information captured here include packaging and storage requirements of the product.

Identification of product’s intended use

This third task indicates whether the product is to be consumed directly, processed or cooked. It helps establish the nature of the target hazard on the product.

Drawing up commodity flow diagram (CFD)

This task is critical for the formulation of secondary processing of the product and is thus relevant in determining the potential hazards that may affect the product.

The onsite confirmation of the approved flow diagram

The team should then visit the firm to compare the drawn CFD with the actual steps used by the plant. The step helps to confirm if all the requirements including material practices have been taken into consideration in the production steps.

Application of HACCP principles  

The seven principles are then applied by the team from the first to the last one to ensure the production unit adheres to all the practices of HACCP.

Do you have any questions about HACCP that you would like answered?

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