Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Guide

Introduction of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a process control system designed to identify and prevent microbial and other hazards in food production. It includes steps designed to prevent problems before they occur and to correct deviations as soon as they are detected. Such preventive control systems with documentation and verification are widely recognized by scientific authorities and international organizations as the most effective approach available for producing safe food. It can be applied to every product and process using the processor’s operational knowledge, common sense and food safety science. As a result, HACCP may be adapted to any type of food production and any size of facility without significant capital investment.

The Seven HACCP Principles

Principle 1: Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Plants determine the food safety hazards and identify the preventive measures the plant can apply to control these hazards. Question every part of your food preparation and presentation process. What naturally occurring hazards are associated with the species you process? At what point is pathogen growth possible on the raw or finished product? Can mishandling affect the safety of your food? Identify all the physical hazards that can affect the safety of your food. Consider machines, employee objects, such as jewelry and any other physical contamination. Identify chemical hazards that may affect the safety of the product. List any additives that you use in your process, when they are used and what controls you have to make sure they are kept within acceptable limits.

Principle 2: Identify Critical Control Points

A critical control point (CCP) is a point, step or procedure in a food process at which control can be applied and, as a result, a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. A food safety hazard is any biological, chemical or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption. The points you select can match the efficiency of your process, just as long as they are the points needed to keep food safe.

Principle 3: Establish Critical Limits For Each Critical Control Point

Establish the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical hazard must be controlled at a critical control point to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level. A critical limit is the point where corrective actions are needed to ensure the hazards are being controlled and that your food product is safe. The limits may be as unique as your process, but need to incorporate food safety science, such as proper refrigeration and cooking temperatures.

Principle 4: Establish Critical Control Point Monitoring Requirements

Monitoring activities are necessary to ensure that the process is under control at each critical control point. FSIS is requiring that each monitoring procedure and its frequency be listed in the HACCP plan.

Principle 5: Establish Corrective Actions

These are actions to be taken when monitoring indicates a deviation from an established critical limit. The final rule requires a plant’s HACCP plan to identify the corrective actions to be taken if a critical limit is not met. Corrective actions are intended to ensure that no product injurious to health or otherwise adulterated as a result of the deviation enters commerce.

Principle 6: Establish Record Keeping Procedures

The HACCP regulation requires that all plants maintain certain documents, including its hazard analysis and written HACCP plan and records documenting the monitoring of critical control points, critical limits, verification activities and the handling of processing deviations.

Principle 7: Establish Procedures for Verifying the System is Working

Validation ensures that the plans do what they were designed to do; that is, they are successful in ensuring the production of safe product. Plants will be required to validate their own HACCP plans. FSIS will not approve plans in advance, but will review them for conformance with the final rule. Verification ensures the plan is adequate, that is, working as intended. Verification may include the review of HACCP plans, CCP records, critical limits and microbial sampling and analysis. FSIS is requiring that the plan include verification tasks to be performed by plant personnel and FSIS inspectors.

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