What is HACCP?

What exactly is HACCP?
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system) is a process control system that identifies where and when hazards might happen in the production of human food and sets up stringent actions to ensure the hazards from happening. Through monitoring and regulations for each step of the process, there are reduced chances for food hazards to occur. Temperature monitoring plays a key role in food safety.

The importance of HACCP
HACCP is important because it prioritizes and controls food risks, such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants. The Food Production industry can better assure consumers that the products they consume are as safe as science and technology permit. One important way to protect public safety is by reducing foodborne hazards, which is what HACCP is designed to do.

What Major Food Hazards should concern us?
The most significant hazards in the food industry are microbacterial contaminants. The most common and well known include: Salmonella, E Coli, Listeria and Clostridium Botulinum (a form of botulism). Concerns about chemical residues from pesticides are unwarranted as they are almost non-existent. All of these cane retarded by proper storage and preparation temperatures.

How did HACCP begin?
It was a by-product of the space race of the 1960s. It was developed to produce the safest and highest quality food possible for astronauts in the space program. In the years since, HACCP is endorsed by The National Academy of Sciences, National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods, and the Codex Alimentarius.

What is the difference between HACCP and State Inspections?
The current food inspection program, both nationally and by each state, is based on a “see, smell and touch” approach to detect potential food hazards rather than prevent them. HACCP focuses on the prevention of hazards, particularly those that cannot be easily seen, smelled or felt. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has mandated HACCP for the nation’s 7,000 meat and poultry plants.

What Role Does New Technology play in HACCP?
New technologies are playing a critical role in improving HACCP programs. As more responsibilities are assumed by technology, the risk of human error has greatly diminished. When new technologies are developed that prevent or eliminate hazards throughout the production process, they are widely accepted and adopted. The role of A.I. will be expanded in future HACCP guidelines.

What are the Established HACCP Guidelines for the Food Industry?
There are seven HACCP principles that must be followed to implement HACCP (See Below). However, each food production process in a plant will need its own individual HACCP plan that directly impacts the specifics of the product and process. Government and industry groups are developing some generic HACCP models that provide guidelines and directions for new partners in food production industry.
The Seven HACCP Principles:
1. Conduct a hazard analysis
2. Identify the critical control points (CCPs)
3. Establish critical limits
4. Establish CCP monitoring requirements
5. Establish corrective actions
6. Establish effective recordkeeping procedures
7. Establish procedures for verifying

How does HACCP apply to Retail and Restaurant locations?
In retail stores, proper sanitation, refrigeration, storage and handling practices will prevent contamination. Additionally, in restaurants and food service location, food handlers must store, handle and cook foods properly to ensure food safety.

The Food and Drug Administration and state and local governments have begun to implement HACCP in the distribution and retail sectors. FSIS (The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service) works with FDA to develop federal standards for safe handling of food during transportation, distribution and storage prior to delivery to retail stores. These organizations continue through the “Cold Chain” to provide food safety guidance to retail stores through the updated Food Code. The Food Code is a model ordinance intended to serve as a guide for state and local authorities.

In order for process to be in compliance with all HACCP standards, each part of the solution must meet the HACCP standards. When retail locations and restaurants try to implement HACCP standards but use components that are not compliant, their efforts to ensure compliance do not succeed.

Even with regulations, policies and standards, retail locations and restaurants must require proper sanitation and handling guidelines by their employees to ensure that further contamination and cross contamination does not occur.