The Seven Principles of HACCP

1. Conduct a hazard analysis. Prepare a list of steps in the process where significant hazards occur and describe the preventive measures.

2. Identify the critical control points in the process (risk assessment).

3. Establish critical limits for preventive measures associated with each identified CCP.

4. Establish CCP monitoring requirements. Establish procedures for using the results of monitoring to adjust the process and maintain control.

5. Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that there is a deviation from an established critical limit.

6. Establish effective record-keeping procedures that document the HACCP system.

7. Establish procedures for verifying that the HACCP system is working correctly.

how these problems could be prevented. Critical control points (CCP) are points anywhere in the process at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to acceptable levels.

HACCP principles were established for the NASA program and soon the concept spread to the industry. Some low-acid and acidified canned foods, particularly canned meats, have been made under HACCP procedures since the early 1970s, and the program has succeeded to such an extent that product recalls for canned products are rare.

During the mid-1980s, the National Academy of Sciences began to analyze how HACCP could be applied on a wider scale. The National Advisory Subcommittee on Microbiological Criteria for Food was designated to devise a plan, which subsequently became the seven major HACCP principles currently used and are listed in Table 20.1.

Establishment of good manufacturing practices (GMPs) underpins any HACCP program. Thus, as for the GMPs, establishment of sanitary standard operating procedures (SOPs) also helps provide a base to begin work. These practices control the environmental conditions to ensure safe food production and should be in place before implementing HACCP. The focus of HACCP is safety, and food quality is not an issue. The components of the food processing or service that affect safety are analyzed. Other necessary steps are a careful examination of the plant and equipment, written documentation of sampling and testing, and training of employees. Documentation is crucial to provide proof that the practices were indeed followed and as a defense against personal injury lawsuits by consumers.

It is relevant to note that in the application of HACCP, the use of microbiological testing is seldom an effective means of monitoring CCPs, because of the time required to obtain results. Waiting hours or days for test results is counterproductive. In most instances, monitoring of CCPs can be best accomplished by using physical and chemical tests and through visual observations. Microbiological criteria do, however, play a role in verifying that the overall HACCP system is working. Similar methods are employed for the assurance of food safety for chemical and physical hazards in addition to other biological hazards. For a successful HACCP program to be properly implemented, the management must be committed to an HACCP approach. A commitment by the management will indicate an awareness of the benefits and costs of HACCP and include education and training of employees. Benefits, in addition to enhanced assurance of food safety, are better use of resources and timely response to problems.

Developing an haccp Plan

The format of HACCP plans varies. In many cases, the plans are product- and process-specific. However, some plans may use a unit operations approach. Generic HACCP plans can serve as useful guides to develop process and product HACCP plans; however, it is essential that the unique conditions within each facility be considered while developing all components of the HACCP plan.

In the development of an HACCP plan, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that it is important that five preliminary tasks be accomplished before applying the HACCP principles to a specific product and process.

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