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Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points

(pronounced hassip) is a system originally designed by NASA for monitoring food production. HACCP involves seven principles:
  • Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.
  • Identify critical control points. These are points in a food's production--from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer--at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.
  • Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.
  • Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.
  • Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met--for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.
  • Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly--for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.
  • Establish effective recordkeeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling foodborne pathogens.

HACCP offers a number of advantages over the current system. Most importantly-

  • Focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food
  • Is based on sound science
  • Permits more efficient and effective government oversight, primarily because the recordkeeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than how well it is doing on any given day
  • Places responsibility for ensuring food safety appropriately on the foodservice facility, manufacturer or distributor
  • Helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market
  • Reduces barriers to international trade.
Education and Training

The success of a HACCP system depends on educating and training management and employees in the importance of their role in producing safe foods. This should also include information the control of foodborne hazards related to all stages of the food chain. It is important to recognize that employees must first understand what HACCP is and then learn the skills necessary to make it function properly. Specific training activities should include working instructions and procedures that outline the tasks of employees monitoring each Critical Control Point (CCP).

Management must provide adequate time for thorough education and training. Personnel must be given the materials and equipment necessary to perform these tasks. Effective training is an important prerequisite to successful implementation of a HACCP plan.

Developing a HACCP Plan

The format of HACCP plans will vary. In many cases the plans will be product and process specific. However, some plans may use a unit operations approach. Generic HACCP plans can serve as useful guides in the development of process and product HACCP plans; however, it is essential that the unique conditions within each facility be considered during the development of all components of the HACCP plan.

In the development of a HACCP plan, five preliminary tasks need to be accomplished before the application of the HACCP principles in a foodservice location.

Assemble the HACCP Team

The first task in developing a HACCP plan is to assemble a HACCP team consisting of individuals who have specific knowledge and expertise appropriate to the location. It is the team's responsibility to develop the HACCP plan. The team should be multi disciplinary and include individuals from areas such as engineering, stewarding, production, receiving, and Front of the House. The team should also include local personnel who are involved in the operation as they are more familiar with the variability and limitations of the operation. In addition, this fosters a sense of ownership among those who must implement the plan. The HACCP team may need assistance from outside experts who are knowledgeable in the potential biological, chemical and/or physical hazards associated with the products and the processes. Local Health Departments are a great resource. However, a plan which is developed totally by outside sources may be erroneous, incomplete, and lacking in support at the local level.

Due to the technical nature of the information required for hazard analysis, it is recommended that experts who are knowledgeable in the food process should either participate in or verify the completeness of the hazard analysis and the HACCP plan. Such individuals should have the knowledge and experience to correctly:

(a) conduct a hazard analysis;
(b) identify potential hazards;
(c) identify hazards which must be controlled;
(d) recommend controls, critical limits, and procedures for monitoring and verification;
(e) recommend appropriate corrective actions when a deviation occurs;
(f) recommend research related to the HACCP plan if important information is not known; and
(g) validate the HACCP plan.

Describe the food and its distribution

The HACCP team first describes the food. This consists of a general description of the food, ingredients, and processing methods. The method of preparation should be described along with information on how the food is to be preparred.

Describe the intended use and consumers of the food

Describe the normal expected use of the food. The intended consumers may be the general public or a particular segment of the population (e.g., infants, immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, etc.).

Develop a flow diagram which describes the process

The purpose of a flow diagram is to provide a clear, simple outline of the steps involved in the process. The scope of the flow diagram must cover all the steps in the process which are directly under the control of the establishment. In addition, the flow diagram can include steps in the food chain which are before and after the processing that occurs in the establishment. The flow diagram need not be as complex as engineering drawings. A block type flow diagram is sufficiently descriptive. Also, a simple schematic of the facility is often useful in understanding and evaluating product and process flow.

Verify the flow diagram

The HACCP team should perform an on-site review of the operation to verify the accuracy and completeness of the flow diagram. Modifications should be made to the flow diagram as necessary and documented.

After these five preliminary tasks have been completed, the seven principles of HACCP are applied.(See above)

The above information was adapted from
U. S. Food and Drug Administration
U. S. Department of Agriculture
National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods
Adopted August 14, 1997

For a complete copy of this report, click here.

The Haccp Food Safety Manual
by Joan K. Loken

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