The 7 key principles of HACCP
HACCP is a proactive methodology that is based on identifying and evaluating hazards in a food operation and then developing preventive controls to ensure these hazards are eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels as much as possible.
It engages employees at all levels, especially those who handle products on a regular basis, in forming relationships with customers with the highest level of professionalism.
The 7 key principles of HACCP are:
Conducting a hazard analysis
Food safety hazards are broken down into 3 categories.
Biological hazards include microbiological hazards such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, pathogens, etc.
Chemical hazards are those that may potentially cause injuries or illnesses. This may arise from added chemicals, contaminants, allergens, or from packaging materials.
Physical hazards can be the result of several factors. From poor food handling practices to extraneous or foreign objects entering the product.
To implement an effective HACCP plan, you must identify all steps in your production process where these hazards could occur.
Identifying critical control points
Accurately identifying critical control points is crucial for an effective HACCP plan. CCPs are any part of the process where control can be applied to eliminate or prevent a hazard. These steps can include cooking or handling the food, suppliers, storage processes, production processes, cleaning, transportation of food, etc.
Establishing critical limits
Critical limits are defined as the maximum or minimum values beyond which unacceptable levels of risk may occur if they are not controlled by preventive measures. Establishing these limits is important for maintaining the safety of food.
Monitoring parameters for each CCP must be set up to ensure that critical limits are not exceeded, and the food safety objective is met. Monitoring requires real-time data flow through visual observation or instrumentation, using thermometers, calibrated pH, Aw meters, etc.
In-line monitoring: This type of monitoring occurs during a process.
Off-line monitoring: This occurs outside of a process, where a sample can be taken for testing.
The frequency of monitoring must be established based on the type of observation being conducted, or whether it is in-line or off-line.
Implementing corrective actions
Corrective action should be taken when:
- a critical limit is exceeded;
- an actual process value deviates from the expected value; or
- there is a failure in preventive measures.
Corrective action can be applied in two ways:
• Preventive — Preventing the recurrence of a deviation by implementing new food safety controls.
Example: If cleaning procedures were not followed properly, then preventive corrective action would include training staff on proper cleaning procedures.
• Corrective — Restoring an unsafe condition so that it does not pose an imminent health risk to consumers or employees.
Example: If the raw chicken were stored above cooked chicken in a refrigerated display case, corrective action would involve rearranging the display case so that raw chicken products are below cooked ones that are at a lower temperature range.
Aside from monitoring, every CCP must go through a verification process. This process includes the information of who is involved in each process and establishing that they are following the necessary procedures accurately. It also requires each instrument in the process to be calibrated and maintained. The verification process must also confirm that monitoring is working accurately.
All activities associated with monitoring, controlling, and verifying CCPs must be recorded in writing in case of any audits, incidents, or inspections, so the evidence is available to prove what occurred in the production stage.