Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. HACCP is used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards, so that key actions, known as Critical Control Points (CCP’s) can be taken to reduce or eliminate the risk of the hazards being realized. The system is used at all stages of food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc.
The HACCP Seven 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. A food safety hazard is any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption.
Principle 2: Identify critical control points. A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a point, step, or procedure in a food manufacturing 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.
Principle 3: Establish critical limits for each critical control point. A critical limit is 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.
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. In the United States, the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) 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 ensuring the HACCP system is working as intended. Validation ensures that the plants 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 HACCP plans in advance, but will review them for conformance with the final rule.
Verification ensures the HACCP plan is adequate, that is, working as intended. Verification procedures may include such activities as review of HACCP plans, CCP records, critical limits and microbial sampling and analysis. FSIS is requiring that the HACCP plan include verification tasks to be performed by plant personnel. Verification tasks would also be performed by FSIS inspectors. Both FSIS and industry will undertake microbial testing as one of several verification activities. Verification also includes ‘validation’ – the process of finding evidence for the accuracy of the HACCP system (e.g. scientific evidence for critical limitations).
The seven HACCP principles are included in the international system ISO 22000. This standard is a complete food safety management system incorporating the elements of prerequisite programmes for food safety, HACCP and quality management system which together form an organization’s Total Quality Management.