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Seven Principles of HACCP

Posted by Aaron Spencer on

HACCP, or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system, is a process-control system that identifies where hazards might occur in the food production process and puts into place actions to prevent the hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, there is less chance for hazards to occur. By following the principles of HACCP, you can prioritize and control major foodborne hazards like chemical residues, such as from pesticides and antibiotics, and microbiological contaminants, such as Salmonella and E.coli.

HACCP was first used in the 1960s by the Pillsbury Company to produce the safest and highest quality food possible for astronauts in the space program. The National Academy of Sciences, National Advisory Committee for Mcirobiological Criteria for Foods, and the Codex Alimentarius have endorsed HACCP as the best process control system available today.

There are seven principles, developed by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, that serve as the foundation for a HACCP system. They are:

1. Conduct a hazard analysis to identify potential hazards that could occur in the food production process. The application of this principle involves listing the steps in the process and identifying where significant hazards are likely to occur.

2. Identify the critical control points, those points in the process where the potential hazards could occur and can be prevented and/or controlled. A critical control point may control more than one food safety hazard.

3. Establish critical limits for preventive measures associated with each CCP. A critical limit is the maximum and/or minimum value to which a biological, chemical, or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level the occurrence of a food safety hazard. The critical limit is usually a measure such as time, temperature, water activity, pH, weight, or some other measure that is based on scientific literature and/or regulatory standards.

4. Establish CCP monitoring requirements to ensure each CCP stays within its limit. Monitoring may require materials or devices to measure or otherwise evaluate the process at CCPs. Monitoring procedures should describe how the measurement will be taken, when the measurement is taken, who is responsible for the measurement and how frequently the measurement is taken during production.

5. Establish corrective actions if monitoring determines a CCP is not within the established limits. In case a problem occurs, corrective actions must be in place to ensure no public health hazard occurs.

6. Verification. Confirm that your HACCP Plan works and that crucial control points are appropriately monitored and corrective actions are adequate.

7. Recordkeeping. Document procedures detailing how food is handled and prepared safely.

By following HACCP, you are on your way to serving safer food, but remember that HACCP does not stand alone. Your plan must also include other food safety programs so that you can avoid major food risks at your facility.

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