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Developing an effective HACCP Food Plan

schedule 8th August 2019 by Virtual College in Food and Drink Last updated on 8th August 2019

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When managing food safety standards within any food related industry, from catering to hospitality and everything in between, it’s important to bear the key principles of HACCP in mind. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you can create an appropriate HACCP food plan for your business which covers off all the elements needed to keep consumers safe and protect your business from the repercussions of poor food handling practices.

Is HACCP a legal requirement?

In short – yes. In January 2006, EU regulation Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 came into force which related to hygiene of foodstuffs. Article 5 of this regulation states that ‘Food business operators shall put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on the Codex HACCP principles’.

So, what are these principles?

We’ve put together a quick step-by-step HACCP food plan which touches on each point and what you’ll need to think about.

Assemble your HACCP team

You will need people who cover a range of disciplines and roles in order to ensure that all aspects of a HACCP plan can be implemented. Utilise the knowledge that both managers and store front employees can bring to the table when forming your HACCP, as it’s likely they will have a more hands-on idea of what challenges your business might face.

Provide product descriptions

To start off your HACCP hazard analysis, you will need full descriptions of your products, including specifications of ingredients, processing methods and distribution methods.

Describe the intended use and consumer

Follow up the product descriptions with an outline of what the typical use for the food will be (direct to consumer, ingredient to be use by caterers, etc.) and who the intended consumer ideally would be, such as children, elderly, or those with specific allergies.

Create a flow diagram of the food process

The start of your HACCP food plan will require you to create a flow chart of each individual step of the food process for each type of food you produce. This will only need to cover the steps which come under the control of your business, so you don’t need to include any steps which occur before ingredients are delivered onto the site. You will also need to detail where each step takes place within the workplace to track any movement. Once the flow charts have been completed, they will need verifying by staff on-site to ensure that they accurately represent the food production process.

Identify hazards

From this point onwards, each step adheres to a principle of HACCP which governs the actions which need to be taken. Looking at the flow charts, you will need to figure out where hazards may arise during the production process, such as cross-contamination risks, undercooking potential, etc. Once you have identified all the potential hazards, including physical, biological or chemical hazards, you will need to evaluate how likely each hazard is and which will need to be addressed directly by the HACCP plan.

Determine any critical control points (CCPs)

After analysing the potential hazards, you will then need to figure out where your critical control points (CCPs) are – instances within your food production process where you can apply control measures in order to negate risks or lower them to the lowest possible level. CCP decision trees are handy for this step as they can make identifying CCPs more straightforward, but you will need to supplement this with expert knowledge.

Establish critical limits

Now that you’ve isolated your critical control points and their relative hazards which they can control, you will need to establish critical limits to impose at these CCPs. This mean using scientific or technical measurements in order to check for hazards and confirm that none are present. This can cover checking temperature, pH, viscosity, and more factors which can be quantitively measured. Each CCP must have at least one aspect of food safety which can be validated.

Create a monitoring system

The CCPs will now need a way of taking these measurements in order to check the critical limits for the relevant hazards. This allows you to create solid records to check if something does go wrong, and helps to encourage a positive approach to safety as staff will follow protocol to ensure measurements are taken. Continuous monitoring is the ideal standard, but alternative methods can be employed so long as there is a rigorous standard employed which ensures there is no chance for a hazard to be missed.

Implement corrective procedures

If hazardous food is produced, there will need to be corrective measures on standby to ensure that it does not happen again. You can use the records from your monitoring to determine the cause (non-compliance with safety standards, an issue with a product, etc.) and apply the corresponding corrective measure. If a corrective measure is needed to be implemented then this will require additional oversight to ensure that the issue has been remedied.

Verify your plan and review regularly

In order to have a truly effective HACCP food plan, it will need to be verified that all the previous steps have been suitably executed. End-product testing is one method of doing this, but a more rigorous way of verifying is to regularly review your HACCP plan to ensure all records are being kept. You can also consult with experts to check that all hazards and CCPs have been correctly identified, as well as on-site observations to ensure staff are following procedures along with separate measurements and evaluations.

For a full breakdown of the HACCP principles, as well as additional information on hazards such as food allergies within a food production setting, check out our Level 2 & 3 HACCP and Food Allergen training pack. This interactive e-learning course gives you a practical, comprehensive guide to both HACCP and potential food allergens for any businesses operating within the catering and hospitality industries, setting you up with the knowledge needed to successfully minimise food safety risks.

Top HACCP FAQs

What does HACCP stand for?

HACCP stands for ‘Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points’.

How many HACCP prerequisites are there?

There are 12 good hygiene practices (GHPs) and practical attributes which make up the prerequisites before applying a HACCP plan, which include: a fit-for-purpose premises or structure with all necessary facilities; fully functioning equipment; technical maintenance and calibration; adequate cleaning and sanitation; physical separation of activities to prevent biological cross-contamination; procedures to control and prevent other forms of contamination within production; supplier controls; safety of water and ice; proper waste management; pest control; appropriate levels of personal hygiene and health of all personnel; comprehensive training and supervision measures.

Is HACCP a food safety management system?

Yes - the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) are procedures designed to create an adequate food safety management system.

What are 3 types of food contamination?

The three main types of food contamination are physical (foreign objects present in food), chemical (foreign chemical substances are present in food), and biological (living organisms such as pests or microorganisms are present in food), but there is also cross-contamination which is where any one of these contaminants can be transferred from one source to another resulting in additional risk.

Click Here to check out our full HACCP FAQ section

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