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What is HACCP?

What is HACCP?
HACCP

What is HACCP?

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What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a system for ensuring that hazards, which may originate from biological, chemical, or physical sources, are controlled to acceptable, predetermined levels. HACCP is used in the food and other industries where the safety and hygiene of products is a concern. A HACCP-based approach to food safety should be integrated into an overall management system.

This term is a registered trademark of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

HACCP is a component of the science-based, systems approach to food safety and quality improvement. The goal of the HACCP principle is to ensure that all food products are produced and distributed with minimum risk. Although it is a science-based system, its application requires judgment and common sense. This makes it easy to implement the HACCP system in both small and large facilities. HACCP has many advantages over traditional, nonsystematic approaches to food safety.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point is a technical system of identifying the critical control points in the production process and maintaining them at a specified critical limit. It originated from the NASA space program to prevent astronauts from being poisoned by their own waste products. HACCP is now widely used in both food and non-food industries, although it was not developed as an overall management system for all food manufacturing, but rather as a way of ensuring that the foods we consume are safe.

A HACCP system should be implemented in every food plant. The application of a HACCP system is not limited to any industry and is intended to help producers cope with the increasing demands for product safety. The use of a HACCP system requires an ongoing effort on the part of all members of the food plant. The successful implementation of a HACCP program in any facility depends on management commitment, employee cooperation and support, and technical knowledge among production workers.

HACCP principles can be applied to any type of business producing food products or consumer goods that may be consumed without further processing by the consumer before consumption.

HACCP can be used to control microbial and chemical hazards. It is a preventive control system that works best when focused on the process itself rather than on specific products. HACCP is not a new inspection system, but rather a way of making sure that the process is in control at all times. The goal of HACCP is to achieve an acceptable level of food safety while minimizing costs and preventing delays or other disruptions in production.

Hazard analysis should be conducted with respect to seven factors: biological, chemical, physical, natural toxins, allergens, extraneous materials (including packaging), and radionuclides. The primary goal of HACCP is to ensure that hazards are controlled to acceptable levels, often called critical limits. The critical limit is a specific level or combination of levels which, when exceeded, would result in the unacceptable presence of a hazard in the final product. Critical limits are usually determined by the Small Business Association (SBA) and/or EPA.

The selection of critical limits should be based on risk analysis, and it is important to take into account consumer use patterns. The objective of risk analysis is to identify those hazards which could occur at levels that would be harmful to consumers. In the HACCP system, the cook acts as an inspector and a processor of food. When a person becomes sick or dies, it is often difficult to determine how the person became ill. A system such as HACCP can help in determining the possible causes and can support judgments about potential negligence.

In microbial safety, the main objective of HACCP is to ensure that harmful microorganisms are controlled so they do not present a health risk to consumers. The hazard analysis should include consideration of the potential for growth and survival of pathogens. The critical limits for microbial safety may be specified by government regulations or, at a minimum, based on an assessment of risk as determined by qualified individuals.

In evaluating process capabilities in the light of microbial and chemical hazards, it is important to recognize that food plants have three types of common control points: process control points (e.g., temperature measurement), monitoring control points (e.g. pH meter), and verification control points (e.g., sampling and testing). HACCP requires monitoring of process parameters according to a written program. In the case of process control points, system functionality should be monitored at appropriate intervals so that critical limits are always met. Monitoring data should be evaluated for consistency with values recorded in the pre-operational phase and each time a change is made to the process or equipment.

In the verification phase, it is necessary to verify whether the critical limit was exceeded during production. Evidence of this verification step should be documented in a records system kept at plant level, as well as by management at higher levels.

A HACCP system should be implemented in every food plant. The application of a HACCP system is not limited to any industry and is intended to help producers cope with the increasing demands for product safety. The use of this system requires an ongoing effort on the part of all members of the food plant. The successful implementation of a HACCP program in any facility depends on management commitment, employee cooperation and support, and technical knowledge among production workers. HACCP principles can be applied to any type of business producing food products or consumer goods that may be consumed without further processing by the consumer before consumption.

HACCP systems developed within the meat industry have been documented as they provide a good understanding of how HACCP should be applied in other industries. Meat products are different than other foods in that they have a biological hazard (e.g., Listeria monocytogenes) associated with them. Meat products are also more difficult for a HACCP system because of their physical properties and the multiple processing steps involved. One difficulty with meat is determining which hazards need to be controlled at each step in the production process. The hazard must be identified by the producer, but can be assumed to be critical if it is a biological hazard.

The purpose of HACCP is to ensure that the process is under control all the time. The HACCP system must be set up for each eligible product and process. One of the main problems is how to determine what hazards a specific food plant or process has. This makes it easy to implement the HACCP system in both small and large facilities because it can adapt to each plant’s unique characteristics, processes, and products.


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