What are the 7 basic principles of HACCP?
If you work in the food industry, then there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of, or are reasonably well aware of what HACCP is. It’s an important part of maintaining a safe environment when dealing with food intended for human consumption, and refers to the process undertaken in order to achieve this. The acronym stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, and deals with anything biological, chemical and physical that pertains to food safety. There are seven important HACCP principles, and we’re going to cover each one of them here.
As with most risk mitigation processes, the very first step of HACCP is conducting a survey to establish all of the food safety hazards in the environment. This means going round the space, and thinking about all the things that could go wrong, which might cause an item of food to be unsafe for someone to consume. This includes anything biological such as foodborne illnesses, as well as chemicals, such as cleaning products, as well as physical, which could mean foreign bodies in food items.
Critical control points
The food production process can be broken down into steps in virtually any environment. This is true whether you’re conducting a HACCP assessment in a factory or a restaurant kitchen. As a result, the next step is to figure out where these steps are, and how they allow you to apply some sort of control that could reduce one of the previously identified hazards. For instance, this could be at the point where you decide if a piece of meat has been cooked, or the point at which you clean some utensils. There are potential critical control points everywhere.
Critical control point limits
Once you have identified all of the relevant critical control points, you need to establish the limits that allow you to control the hazard. If we go back, for example, to the piece of meat that is being cooked, the limit is about the temperature to which the meat must be cooked in the centre to be safe to eat. Similarly, a control point might be checking to ensure that a refrigerator is operating correctly, in which case the limit would be the temperature of the unit. These limits help ensure a high standard of food hygiene.
Critical control point monitoring
The monitoring procedure itself needs to be established and a process put in place so that the control point can be operated correctly. The tools to monitor the point need to be readily available, and those that are involved in that element of the process need to know exactly what their responsibilities are to the HACCP process and how they can carry them out. If you feel that you or your employees needs online training for food hygiene, and HACCP certification in particular, then take a look at the Virtual College course on the subject Click here to see the course available.
What happens when the critical control point limit is not achieved? This is where corrective action must come into play. In the cooking example, this will mean continually cooking the meat until it has reached the required temperature. If it does not, for whatever reason, then the food must not be served, as it would pose a risk to the customer. If the refrigerator is not operating at the right temperature, then corrective action could be more complex, because you’d need to establish the knock-on effects.
The HACCP process is a continuing one, which does need to be periodically refined to ensure that it’s working as intended. As a result, you’ll need to monitor the effectiveness of the procedures that you have in place, both at an individual control point level, and an overall overview. Make sure that everything is working as it should, and if there are gaps, then you need to go through the earlier steps again to remedy them.
The final HACCP element is record keeping. In order to properly track what’s happening, spot any mistakes and ensure that HACCP is being undertaken as it should, you need to take and record things regularly. Checking the temperature of a fridge at regular intervals? Then have a document in which this information is recorded.