Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is the underlying concept upon which all internationally recognized food safety management programs are built. For food processors and manufacturers, understanding HACCP is critical to implementing systems and procedures that minimize risk, keep the public safe, and uphold a company’s reputation.
article from the food safety and physical contaminant detection experts at
Sesotec explains what HACCP is, why the concept is so important in the food
industry, and what implementing an HACCP program entails.
stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
and refers to an internationally recognized methodology for reducing food
safety risks in facilities that manufacture, process, or handle food products.
HACCP involves identifying and assessing potential sources of food safety
hazards in order to establish a procedure for proactively controlling for and
HACCP standards emphasize controlling for
preventable and eliminable food safety risks by means of two key components:
to identifying and analyzing the food safety risks present in a food handling plant’s
processes. In particular, hazard analysis centers on evaluating potential
sources for microbiological, chemical, and physical contamination.
a proactive process control system, HACCP is crucial for identifying and
preventing hazards in food production so as to better protect public health.
Rather than simply controlling for major food risks after food products have
been processed and packaged, an HACCP plan involves strictly monitoring each
step of the food production process in order to prevent contamination hazards from
occurring in the first place.
When is the implementation of an HACCP plan
Because of its effectiveness in preventing contamination
hazards, the HACCP methodology is the basis for all internationally recognized
food safety guidelines and many food safety laws. Obtaining food safety
certification from any program accredited by the Global Food Safety Initiative will
invariably involve implementing and documenting an effective HACCP plan.
A few examples of international food safety
certification programs requiring the implementation of an HACCP plan are:
Safety System Certification based on ISO 22000
are two phases of planning involved in the development of an HACCP plan. The
preliminary phase of creating an HACCP plan involves understanding the specific
conditions, products, and processes in the facility. The second phase involves
applying the HACCP framework in order to write an actionable plan that is
customized to the needs of the facility.
steps in developing an HACCP plan
a food handling company can begin to write an HACCP plan, there are five
preliminary steps to follow. Each of these preliminary HACCP planning steps
will help the company obtain a comprehensive picture of risk and responsibility
within the food handling facility.
a dedicated HACCP team –
Companies start by designating a team of individuals to be responsible for
developing the HACCP plan. This team may consist entirely of employees, or may
also involve assistance in the form of consulting from outside food safety
experts. The resources allocated to the HACCP team should also be decided
during this preliminary stage.
the products and the processes – During this step, the HACCP team composes
detailed descriptions of each food product made and process carried out in the
plant. These descriptions should also include information such as where and how
the product is to be used, how it is packaged and labeled, as well as shelf-life
and temperature considerations.
a complete list of ingredients and raw materials – Listing and categorizing all of the
ingredients and raw materials used in a food product or process can help
companies zero in on risk areas. The list should include all ingredients, both
primary and additive, as well as all raw materials, such as packaging or
casing, that are processed in their facility.
a process flow diagram –
Starting at raw goods receiving and finishing with outgoing shipments, every
single processing step carried out within the plant should be depicted in a
process flow diagram. This diagram serves as an accurate representation of how
products are made in the plant and should be verified via a walkthrough of the
compliance with sanitation requirements – Adherence to proper hygiene requirements makes
for a strong foundation for an HACCP plan. As a prerequisite, all legal
regulations regarding sanitation must be upheld before an HACCP plan can be
the preliminary planning phase has been completed, the HACCP team can begin to
draft a plan.
The seven steps of an
are seven key principles that comprise the HACCP framework, each of which must
feature in the written HACCP plan.
a hazard analysis – Hazard analysis is a
procedure in which all processes carried out in a food handling facility are
examined for their potential to introduce contamination hazards. Hazard analyses
take place in two steps. First, all potential hazards are identified. Second,
these hazards are evaluated in order to assess the level of food safety risk
they pose. For example, a
company may identify two potential sources of metallic contaminants in their
products: 1) raw materials arrive at the facility already harboring metal
particles and 2) machine wear and tear during processing. The company may then determine
there is a higher level of risk in the former process, and a lower level of
risk in the latter.
the critical control points –
A critical control point (CCP) is an intermediary step or procedure at which a
control is necessary to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the risk of a food safety
hazard to an acceptable level. Typically, a decision tree is used to identify CCPs. Generally speaking, the more processing steps
carried out in a particular food handling facility, the more CCPs will be
necessary to adequately control for contamination hazards.
For example, a company may determine that raw
material intake is a CCP, requiring that all incoming goods are scanned for metallic
contaminants before they are processed. The company may also determine post-packaging
and pre-shipment as another CCP in order to catch any metallic contaminants
that entered the product during processing.
critical limits – A critical limit is the
maximum acceptable level of a particular food safety
parameter which indicates an unacceptably high risk to food safety if surpassed.
Critical limits are typically expressed as values like time, temperature, pH,
water activity, electrical conductivity, etc.
monitoring procedures for critical limits at CCPs –
Procedures will be established for the consistent monitoring of critical
limits at every CCP. These procedures will describe when and how frequently the
measurements will be taken, who is responsible for performing or
monitoring them, and what kind of methods or devices will be used.
For example, this stage may involve creating a
procedure for monitoring an end-of-line metal detector that inspects packaged
products. The sensitivity of the metal detector should be determined here, as
well as the parties responsible for monitoring the performance of the device at
corrective actions – Corrective actions refer to the
established procedures which must be followed should any parameter at a
critical control point deviate from the determined critical limits. First
and foremost, the corrective actions should prevent the potentially hazardous
food from entering the food chain. But
secondarily, the corrective actions should also serve to rectify the cause of
the hazard, thus preventing the situation from reoccurring. For
example, this stage may stipulate that all units rejected by the metal detector
are immediately removed from the production line and undergo a separate, closer
inspection procedure in an effort to trace the contaminants back to the source
of the hazard.
The efficacy of the HACCP plan should be tested and verified through measures
such as process audits, final product inspections, and random sample testing.For
instance, the verification step of an HACCP plan may involve regularly calibrating contaminant detection
equipment for accuracy in order to ensure
foreign bodies are being detected and rejected reliably.
All of the steps outlined above should be documented in detail and archived on
an ongoing basis in order to prove that all food products were produced safely. For
instance, sophisticated contaminant detection
includes software that automatically generates and archives reports about each
inspected batch. These reports can then be downloaded on a regular basis and
stored centrally with all other food safety records.
is the foundation of all modern food safety management
As a systematic approach to preventing contamination hazards, HACCP shifts the
focus of food safety from reactive control measures to proactive ones. The
ultimate objective of any HACCP plan is to make food products as safe as
possible by ensuring that the entire food handling process was carried out as
safely as possible. By creating an HACCP plan, food industry companies are able
to identify the procedures and technologies they need to guarantee the safety
of their products.
As the global demand for food
rises, so do the responsibilities of the food industry. Safe and
efficient food production practices are crucial to the health of both
humanity and the planet. Our intelligent technologies
and services help food industry companies profitably manufacture safe
products and reduce food waste. Compliant. Sustainable. Efficient.