WHAT IS HACCP?
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, or HACCP, is a system which gives a common sense approach to the safety management of our food products.
The HACCP system is designed to identify and control hazards which might occur anywhere in a food processing operation. By hazards we mean anything which has the potential to cause harm to the consumer.
Hazards are identified by looking at every step in the food production process and asking “what could go wrong?” resulting in the production of unsafe food. We then go on to determine where we must put controls in the process to stop the hazards from causing problems. These are the Critical Control Points.
The primary objective of safe food production can then be achieved by managing the Critical Control Points effectively every day.
WHERE DID HACCP COME FROM?
HACCP was originally developed in the early days of the American manned space programme to ensure the Microbiological safety of the astronauts’ food.
The system was drawn up by the Pillsbury Company working with NASA and the US Army laboratories in Natick. Pillsbury then applied HACCP to its food products and launched the system within the food industry.
Now HACCP is applies by food businesses of all sizes right around the world. It has become the internationally accepted system for food safety management.
WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF HACCP?
The HACCP system is based on seven internationally accepted principles which define how to develop, implement and maintain an effective food safety management system.
- Identify likely hazards and measures for their control.
- Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs) where safety must be managed.
- Establish the critical limits which must be met to ensure that the CCP is under control.
- Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP.
- Establish the corrective action required if the CCP goes out of control.
- Establish procedures to verify the HACCP system is working.
- Establish appropriate documentation and records.
ARE THERE BENEFITS TO USING HACCP?
The most important benefit is the production of safe food.
Other benefits include:
- It’s easy to use and understand
- Prevents product safety problems
- Predicts potential hazards rather than relying on experience of failure
- Focuses resources and endeavours on critical areas
- Reduces the emphasis on end product testing
- Applicable to all sizes of food business
- Gives customers confidence in the safety of the operation
- Allows food businesses to reliably meet their legal obligation to produce safe food
- Systematic approach to the development of effective controls
- Can be used at all stages of the food chain
- Complimentary to Quality Management Systems such as BS EN ISO 9000
- More effective than traditional inspection and testing schemes
IS HACCP A LEGAL OBLIGATION?
In South Africa, most food processors and other food related companies have only recently embarked on the HACCP path. The application of the HACCP system has evolved and expanded into a basis for offical food control and for establishing food safety standards for the international food trade. Considerable progress has been made with the publication of various codes and legislation. The most recent being:
- SABS 0330: 1999: The implementation and management of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.
- Regulation 908 of 2003: Regulation Relating to the Application of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System, was promulgated in terms of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972). The regulation states that once a specified sector and food handling enterprise may not handle food without a fully implemented HACCP system. Listing is made by notice in the government Gazette after consideration of a request made by a representative body of a specific sector and food handling enterprise.
Reminder: Whether you go the HACCP route or not, each and every food handling premises must comply with the requirements of Regulation 918 of 1999, where one has to obtain a certificate of acceptability.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN HACCP?
All personnel are involved in some part of the HACCP system and must be committed to making it work, from the senior mangers who provide HACCP resources to the line operators whose actions have direct influence on the product.
The two main HACCP roles are HACCP Team Members and CCP monitors.
HACCP Team Members are the people who together develop the HACCP System within the company. They are chosen for their knowledge and experience and will represent different disciplines so that the HACCP Team will have expertise in all the areas which might affect product safety. There are normally 4 - 6 people in each HACCP Team, but in a small company there may be fewer as one person may cover several different roles.
CCP Monitors have the important role of ensuring that the Critical Control Points are working all the time that the product is being made. They are usually personnel from the shop floor and may be involved in checking factors such as temperature or whether metal detectors are working.
WHAT DOES A HACCP SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
The HACCP System is normally made up of a series of documents and records.
The HACCP Plan is a term used to describe the documents defining how food safety will be achieved, following the application of HACCP principles. It is simply a file containing all the information generated by the HACCP Team about the management of food safety for a particular process.
HOW DO WE DEVELOP A HACCP PLAN?
In preparing a HACCP Plan, the HACCP Team firstly define the process that they will be looking at by drawing a process flow diagram. This is simply a stepwise outline of how the product is made, detailing how all the raw materials and process steps fit together.
For each step in the process flow diagram, the HACCP Team thinks about what hazards could occur, and also what measures could be used to control the hazards. We call these preventative or control measures.
Hazards are those factors which could cause a food product to be unsafe for consumption, and can be microbiological, chemical or physical.
When the hazards and preventative measures are known, the HACCP Team moves on to identify the Critical Control Points or CCPs. These are the points in the operation which must be controlled in order to produce a safe product.
If a CCP failed there would be an unacceptable health risk to the consumer so they must be effectively managed. This is done by specifying critical limits for each CCP.
Critical Limits are the criteria which must be met at all times if the product is to be safe. They are often criteria like minimum cooking times and temperatures, maximum storage temperatures, or the absence of metal contamination.
The rest of the HACCP Plan deals with how the CCPs will be controlled everyday. This involves monitoring the CCPs to check that they are within the safety levels or critical limits, and taking the right corrective action whenever a problem occurs.
HOW DO WE MAKE THE HACCP PLAN WORK IN PRACTICE?
When we implement the HACCP Plan all the essential controls for managing food safety hazards (the CCPs) are put in place. At this stage it is important to monitor the CCPs to make sure that they are working at all times.
The CCP Monitors now become involved and carry out monitoring activities as specified in the HACCP Plan and according to their training. If monitoring shows loss of control at the CCP, then the CCP Monitor takes the corrective action specified in the HACCP Plan in order to prevent unsafe products reaching the consumer. This may involve notifying a supervisor or it could mean taking direct action like stopping the line or quarantining the product.
It is important to maintain the HACCP System by periodically checking that everything is working effectively as planned and by ensuring it is up to date. HACCP needs to be reviewed every time there is a change which might affect product safety, e.g. new ingredients or process equipment, to make sure that the CCPs are still effective at controlling all the possible hazards.
Periodic checking of the HACCP System is normally done by auditing, to make sure that the details defined by each CCP in the HACCP Plan are actually working in practice.
HACCP implementation and maintenance ensure that the management of food safety becomes part of everyday life, giving everyone in the business confidence that the products are consistently safe.
HACCP – WHAT DO THE WORDS MEAN?
Critical Control Point: The points in the operation which must be controlled in order to produce a safe product.
Critical Limit: The safety limit which must always be met at each CCP.
HACCP Plan: The documents which define how food safety will be achieved.
Hazard: A factor which could cause harm to the consumer.
Monitoring Activities: Observations or measurements to assess whether a CCP is under control.
Preventative Measure: A factor which operates to continuously control the hazard. (Not to be confused with monitoring activities).
HACCP Consultation and Auditing
For more information, consultation & Food & Hygiene auditing contact:
- Training / Auditing/Consulting / Systems Development
Paul de Passos
Tel: (031) 309 4669
Cell: 072 835 9043