haccp, food safety, california food safety

HACCP | Food Safety – What are the 7 Steps of HACCP?

As the awareness of diseases originating from food increases, concern throughout the food industry increases as well. As a response to this is the inception of the HACCP and HACCP based certification programs.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. According to the FDA, HACCP is defined as “a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.”

Furthermore, HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry ranging from growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, merchandising, and up to preparing food for consumption.

HACCP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards. It is based on the following seven (7) principles:

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.

Principle 2: Determine the critical control points (CCPs).

Principle 3: Establish critical limits.

Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.

Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.

Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.

Principle 7: Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

The Seven Steps/Principles Explained

  1. Conducting a hazard analysis
    Hazards can be physical (e.g. metal contaminant), chemical (e.g. contaminant, toxic materials) or biological (e.g. virus, bacteria). Make sure that you have the expertise to make an accurate evaluation of the hazards. If you do not have sufficient expertise in your organization, you will need to identify external resources that you can use to perform the hazard analysis. Hazard identification consists of two steps. First is the identification of hazards. This is then followed by an evaluation of the hazard. The hazard evaluation is a determination of the degree of risk to the user from the identified hazard.
  2. Determining the critical control points (CCPs)
    Critical control points or CCPs are steps in your process where controls can be applied to prevent or eliminate the hazards that have been identified? For each critical control point, you will identify the preventive measure. In order to prevent the hazard, establish a maximum or minimum limit for temperature, time, pH, salt level, chlorine level or other processing characteristic that will control the hazard. This is the critical limit for the CCP. If this limit is ever exceeded corrective action must be taken, and all affected product controlled.
  3. Establish critical limits
    Your next step is to establish criteria for each critical control point. Ask yourself the following questions. What criteria must be met to control the hazard at that point? Is it a minimum temperature? Are there regulatory limits that you must meet for this control point?
  4. Establishing monitoring procedures
    What will you measure and how will you measure it? You need to monitor the process at the critical control point and keep records to show that the critical limits have been met. Can you do continuous monitoring of the control point? If not, how often will the measurements need to be performed to show that the process is under control? The monitoring that takes place at the critical control points is essential to the effectiveness of the HACCP program. The monitoring program should be consisted of physical measurement or observations that can be done in a timely manner, to provide the information in a time frame that allows you to take action and control product if an out of control situation occurs.
  5. Establishing corrective actions
    You will establish what actions need to be taken if a critical limit is not met. This will be identified ahead of time for each CCP. The action must make sure that no unsafe product is released. There must also be an evaluation of the process to determine the cause of the problem and an elimination of the cause. The action or actions taken have two purposes. First, to control any nonconforming product resulting from the loss of control. Second, to identify the cause, eliminate it and prevent the situation from reoccurring. By identifying the corrective action before an out of control situation occurs, you are prepared to take action quickly if and when it does occur.
  6. Establishing verification procedures
    The HACCP plan must be validated. Once the plan is in place, make sure it is effective in preventing the hazards identified.
  • Test the end product.
  • Verify that the controls are working as planned.
  • Perform ongoing verification of the system.
  • Are measuring and monitoring equipment in control?
  • What are corrective actions showing?
  • Are records being maintained as required?

7. Establishing record keeping and documentation procedures
You will determine what records are needed to show that the critical limits have been met, and the system is in control. Address regulatory requirements and include records from the development of the system and the operation of the system.

Lastly, the FDA states that, “For successful implementation of a HACCP plan, management must be strongly committed to the HACCP concept. A firm commitment to HACCP by top management provides company employees with a sense of the importance of producing safe food.”

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