Food Safety – Overview of HACCP Principles

Barbara F. Watson

In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) mandated HACCP planning across all industry segments, forcing the entire food industry to catch up with the latest safety requirements.

What is HACCP?

Hazard analysis and critical control points, or HACCP, is a preventive approach to safety for the food and pharmaceutical industries. It aims to identify, prevent and reduce possible hazards in the food chain, from production to distribution and storage. Based on risk-assessment, the HACCP approach allows both industry and government to establish and audit safe food production practices.

Who is HACCP applicable to?

HACCP is applicable to any business directly or indirectly involved in the food chain:

  • Production, processing and packaging
  • Storage, transport and distribution
  • Preparation and distribution of food
  • Shop – retail and catering

The Principles of HACCP

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis that involves identifying where the risks of hazards may occur.
  2. Determination of Critical Control Points (CCP). CCP are points, steps or procedures at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels.
  3. Establish critical limits. Determine the maximum and minimum value by which hazards are controlled. The critical limit is usually a measure such as time, temperature, pH or weight.
  4. Determination of processes for monitoring the CCP in order to ensure they remain within critical limits.
  5. Determination of corrective actions in case the monitoring shows that the CCP is not within the limits.
  6. Determination of procedures for verification. This principle determine the effectiveness of the HACCP plan.
  7. Record keeping. Information about the HACCP plan, procedures and critical limits must be recorded.

Benefits of being HACCP certified:

  • Improved food safety
  • Increased business awareness of food risks
  • Increased buyer and consumer confidence
  • Compliance with food law
  • Reduction in complaints
  • Reduced risk of negative publicity

The most important thing about HACCP is that it is a preventive approach to controlling food hazards and not a product quality one. Food businesses are legally obligated to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on HACCP principles.

Tom Chicoine is Vice President of Business Development for Cooltrax Americas and has thirty years of senior management responsibility within food manufacturing, distribution, transportation and related industries. Prior to Cooltrax, Tom was founder and CEO of Truck Care Network, an organization which developed unique processes, programs and information systems providing an unparalleled approach to networking maintenance and rapid services for the commercial trucking industry.

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