Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an approach to food safety that involves a systematic and structured adherence to certain guidelines and standards. This system can be implemented at all phases of the food preparation or production process. There are numerous benefits to this system including the assurance of consistency across the food industry.
Overview of the HACCP & Its Origin
HACCP was first developed in the 1960s through a relationship established between the U.S. government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Pillsbury Company. NASA had contracted Pillsbury to produce foods that could be consumed on space flights. Additionally, NASA communicated to Pillsbury that any safety risk presented to astronauts was not acceptable due to the severe ramifications of a foodborne illness mid-flight.
As a result, NASA and the U.S. Army collaborated to develop a systematic and structured framework for ensuring safe food hygiene practices. The current variation of this framework was first presented to the public in the early 1970s.
Since its development HACCP has become the most internationally accepted food hygiene compliance framework because of its effective and thorough design. The system is based on evidence-based principles from food science research and ensures food preparation and manufacturing practices are consistent and comprehensive.
The HACCP system is based on seven distinct principles:
Hazard analysis: This involves recognizing any potential or actual hazards and implementing steps to control them.
Identification of critical control points: This process involves identifying points at which disease transmission can be controlled and then applying prevention strategies.
Establishment of critical limits: Establishing critical limits consists of assessing the minimum and maximum levels for which a hazard must be managed to sufficiently control risk.
Monitoring: Regularly evaluating critical control points is essential within the HACCP system.
Corrective action: This consists of implementing any step needed to mitigate a risk that has been identified at a critical control point.
Verification: Verifying all procedures occurring within HACCP on a regular basis is necessary for assessing context-specific hazards and risks.
Activity documentation: This final step requires that all food safety practices are documented thoroughly for audits and evaluation.
Any business involved in food handling can apply these seven principles at any phase of the manufacturing or preparation process to ensure compliance and risk management.
Significance of HACCP
HACCP has become an internationally accepted approach for controlling the risk of foodborne disease within the food industry. There are numerous reasons HACCP is particularly significant to food manufacturing and preparation business, including:
Consistency: The application of the HACCP principles ensures consistency across the food industry with regard to food safety and hygiene.
Prevention: Applying the HACCP framework ensures adequate steps have been taken to prevent the development or transmission of foodborne diseases. A preventative approach is safer and ultimately more cost-effective than a retroactive one.
Evidence-based: The HACCP principles are derived directly from scientific evidence related to food handling and foodborne illness transmission.
Compliance with regulation: Adhering to the HACCP principles helps ensure your business complies with regulations within the food industry.
Consumer trust: Demonstrating to customers that you apply the HACCP framework can increase their confidence and trust in the quality and safety of your products.
Structure: Another benefit of HACCP is it ensures a systematic and structured approach to preventing foodborne illness and that the correct sequence of necessary steps is taken to achieve this objective.
Based on these benefits, all businesses within the food industry should be well versed in the HACCP framework.
Tips & Recommendations for Abiding by HACCP
Applying all the steps in the HACCP framework on a consistent basis may be challenging at first. Here are some tips to help you stay on schedule:
Establish a compliance team to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear and avoid miscommunication regarding implementing the standards.
Set up a monitoring and implementation schedule, including reminders, to make sure principles are implemented regularly and on time.
Consistently monitor and evaluate food hygiene practices in accordance with the HACCP standards and make any necessary improvements.
Document all food hygiene practices for future audits and review.
Consider contracting Alsco to manage some of your food safety and hygiene services because we have extensive experience with and knowledge of industry standards.
The Essential Guide to HACCP. (2021). Safe Food Alliance.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). (November 2022). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.