HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a concept which was primarily applied in the US space travel campaign in the 1960s. It is described as “a food safety program developed for astronauts … it focuses on the prevention of hazards that could cause food-borne illnesses by applying science-based controls, from raw materials to finished goods”.
However, HACCP principles have spread throughout the food industry and culminated in a food safety plan.
Its rapid adoption is due to it being efficient and reactive to certain situations. Previously, industry regulators spot-checked for manufacturing conditions and relied on a sampling of final products to ascertain the risks and hazards.
The HACCP principle base system offers various advantages over the previously applied methodology:
- HACCP focuses on the identification and prevention of hazards that render food unsafe for human consumption.
- The new system permits effective and efficient government analysis due to proper recordkeeping. It helps to measure the degree of regulatory compliance of a firm and safety practices over a period of time.
- Reduces barriers of trade and enables local food companies to compete more effectively globally.
HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from the production, manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the product. For successful implementation of a HACCP strategy, the management must be firmly committed to the concept. Commitment to HACCP by top management demonstrate the importance of safe food production for employees.
Although HACCP considers the entity responsible for assuring food safety, the government still retains an essential role in the inspection of the overall process through its regulating authority.
Principles of HACCP. HACCP requires every entity to focus on its unique characteristics and operations to devise an inspection plan rather than opt for a standardized one. The flexibility it offers stems from its focus on having a monitoring process that can assure food safety, irrespective of its production process. The seven principles of HACCP are:
- Conduct a Hazard Analysis [Biological, Chemical, Physical Hazards, ]
- Determine Critical Control points (CCPs)
- Establish critical limits
- Establish monitoring procedures
- Establish corrective actions
- Establish verification procedures [Validation, Ongoing verification, Reassessment]
- Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
HACCP and the Food Safety Plan. The recently enacted Food Safety Modernization Act is essentially a haccp food safety plan, as it adheres to the same principles. Additionally, it binds all processing firms in the food industry not previously implementing HACCP.
A comprehensive food safety plan must address the following matters:
- Identify and Analyze Every Known of Foreseeable Hazard
- Biological, chemical, and physical hazards, etc.
- Natural and unintentional hazards.
- Intentionally introduced hazards. (g., an act of terrorism)
Implement Preventive Controls
- Implement at critical control points (CCPs).
- Hazards identified to be significantly minimized or prevented.
- Manufactured food should not be misbranded or adulterated.
Supervise the Effectiveness of Preventive Controls
- Ensure hazards are significantly reduced or minimized.
Establish Emergency Protocol
In the case of weak preventive controls:
- Ensure appropriate action to avoid repetition of such control failure or mismanagement.
- Food affected/verified through such controls is re-evaluated for safety.
- The affected food is stopped before entering the market as its safety cannot be verified.
- Adequacy of the controls implemented to prevent identified hazards.
- Monitoring of the business as required by law.
- Appropriateness of the corrective decisions.
- The effectiveness of preventive controls in identifying hazards, through the use of product testing and other means.
- Documentation and periodic updating of the Food Safety Plan to ensure relevance.
- Of records, for a minimum of two years, that document the monitoring of the preventive control results of the monitoring, instances of corrective decisions, and the efficiency of the decisions.
Preparation of a Written Plan
- Documentation and description of the company procedures and compliance with regulations.
- Analysis of hazards and adopted controls against them
Conduct a Re-Analysis
- If a change is made to the way the company operates or the activities it carries out.
- If the change gives way to potential new hazards, identify and document them.
- If there is no such change, a Re-Analysis is to be done every three years.
- New hazards and preventive controls against them need to be identified and recorded.
- Changes to be incorporated to the Food Safety Plan.
HACCP is important because it looks to control and eliminate potential hazards in food production. By controlling major food risks, such as microbiological, chemical, and physical contaminants, businesses will be able to swiftly ensure that their products are safe for consumption. In turn, consumers and potential partners will find it much easier to trust the company, which should greatly help in its sustainability and growth.