What is HACCP?
A good knowledge of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) will be required for implementing your ISO 22000 or SQF Food Safety Management System.
HACCP is an approach to food safety that is recognized globally and has been in use since the 1960s.
With HACCP a company takes a preventive approach to food safety, identifying possible food safety hazards and methods of controlling them to eliminate or reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
For example, if there is a point in production where a bacterial contamination can be introduced? That point becomes a critical control point. The company’s food safety team must identify what controls can be implemented at that point to eliminate the hazard. Is it a temperature that must be reached at that stage of production? You will identify the required temperature, state how you will monitor it and what you will do if that temperature is not reached.
HACCP is based on seven principles:
1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
This is where you evaluate your processes and identify where hazards can be introduced. Hazards can be physical (i.e. metal contamination), chemical (i.e. can a cleaning product contaminate the product, are there toxins that could contaminate the product?) or biological (at what points could bacteria or virus contaminate your product?). You will need to make sure that you have the expertise to make an accurate evaluation of the hazards. This means that 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.
2. Identify the Critical Control Points
At what steps in your process can controls be applied to prevent or eliminate the hazards that have been identified? These are your critical control points. For each critical control point you will identify the preventive measure. How will you prevent the hazard?: Use of specific Temperature, ph, time, procedures?
3. Establish Critical Limits
Your next step is to establish criteria for each critical control point. 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. Establish 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?
5. Establish 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.
6. Establish Record Keeping 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.
7. Establish 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?
The Food Safety Management Systems reaches beyond the hazard analysis critical control point and also incorporates management systems principles similar to those found in ISO 9001. You will be building a system to manage quality and continual improvement throughout your organization. It will reach beyond the control systems that we have discussed above and into how you plan and manage quality into your organization.