Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP, for short) is defined by the US Food and Drug Administration 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.
A HACCP plan is a written document that clearly states how you and your business should handle food correctly, monitor procedures and keep records to keep consumers safe.
History of HACCP
In 1993, 623 Americans were sickened by E. coli and four children died, it was later traced to an undercooked hamburger from Jack in the Box fast food restaurants.
Up until 1993, the beef and fast food industry had never even heard of E. coli. But Jack in the Box responded with a systematic HACCP approach that targeted suppliers, transportation, restaurant staff and corporate infrastructure. Suppliers were subject to random sampling and microbial testing. Jack in the Box fired suppliers that continued to test positive for harmful bacteria.
The result? Within 20 years since, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of E. coli infections from ground beef. The beef industry had spent some $30 million to research safety since the Jack in the Box outbreak. Every year, Industry leaders attend a food safety summit to share their best food safety practices. Today, most beef recalls are below 10,000 pounds; many are below 1,000.
Jack in the Box credits its company-wide HACCP plan for the success story. HACCP had been around since the 1960s. It was developed by NASA and the Pillsbury Company to make sure that the food for the space program was contaminant-free. The system had been employed successfully by poultry operations in the 80s to reduce instances of Salmonella contamination.
Starting a HACCP Plan
There are seven principles that make up a HACCP plan:
- Identify hazards. Hazards are anything chemical, biological, or physical that poses as an unacceptable health risk.
- Identify Critical Control Points (CCPs). CCPs are stages in the production process where contamination hazards can be controlled, prevented or reduced to acceptable levels.
- Establish Critical Control Point Limits. CCPs are measurable boundaries within the production process that is considered within a safe zone.
- Monitor the CCPs. Both manager and employees involved in the foodservice process must monitor the CCPs to ensure that standards meet the minimum requirement. They have to make sure that the standards are kept and to make necessary adjustments to keep temperatures and other CCPs within the boundaries of the critical limits.
- Establish Corrective Actions. When the food isn’t within the critical limits, you’ll need to do something about it. Corrective actions are made in this step.
- Establish Verification Procedures. A HACCP plan will have to withstand independent audits or some other verification procedure endorsed by an agency such as the FDA, USDA or US Department of Commerce. Internal review will be the most frequent verification, such as, a manager reviewing temperature records or calibrating equipment.
- Establish Record-Keeping Procedures. Finally, the best HACCP plans in the world don’t mean a thing if employees don’t know about them or how to implement them. That’s why this principle is very important. All employees must be required to review the HACCP plan and should be tested to make sure they understand.
To learn more about our HACCP products and how to implement a HACCP plan, sign up for our 16 hour Food Safety HACCP for Retail Food Establishments course.