We #StandWithUkraine, find out how to help here.
Last updated: 08.08.19

HACCP – The basic principles of HACCP explained

What is HACCP?

The term HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, which embodies a practical, scientific way of regulating food safety during production. Its main purpose is to prevent food substances from being unsafe, as well as avoiding any issues during its production which could cause injuries. The HACCP is informed by scientific research coupled with technical information which allows for procedures and measures to be used in order to reduce risk, and should be implemented within all food production settings. While it doesn’t guarantee that food produced under HACCP principles will be 100% safe, it provides a sizeable reassurance to both retailers and consumers that food produced on your site is as safe as possible.

Is HACCP a legal requirement?

Yes, it is. Though it has been around since the 1990s, it was in January 2006 that it became madatory with the introduction of an EU regulation about foodstuffs hygiene - Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. In article 5 of this regulation, it states that ‘food business operators shall put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure based on the Codex HACCP principles’.

The HACCP Principles

1. Conduct a hazard analysis

This principle involves identifying where different types of hazard could arise within the food production process to ensure that food safety standards are upheld. HACCP is centred around physical hazards, biological hazards and chemical hazards, with biohazards being the main focus within the HACCP system. This is because they hold the greatest potential for risk with severe consequences. You should mainly look at hazards which you are realistically able to prevent or control in some way.

2. Identify the critical control points

A critical control point (CCP) is a step within the food production process where an element of control can be introduced in order to prevent a hazard or reduce the risk within safe parameters. You can identify CCPs within your own food production process by using a decision tree designed for the HACCP. The number of overall CCPs will vary depending on the length of your process, and one CCP may help to control several hazards.

3. Establish critical limits

Once you’ve listed out your hazards and the corresponding CCPs, you’ll need to figure out what your critical limit (CL) is for each type of hazard, whether its physical, chemical or biological. This means establishing the parameter which is typically based off of food regulatory standards and will involve monitoring some form of measurement, e.g. temperature, weight, pH, etc. This is all in an effort to prevent hazards from forming or to keep risk at an acceptable limit.

4. Find a system for monitoring the CCPs

By this point, you’ll know what your CCPs are, the hazards which can be monitored at each CCP and what measurements you will need to be looking at. Bringing these together means creating a system which establishes how, when and where a measurement will be taken, how frequently this needs to be done and who is ultimately responsible for doing so.

LVL 2 HACCP offer banner

5. Create relevant procedures for corrective action

If your system discovers that a measurement taken at a CCP has exceeded your critical limit for a particular hazard, you will need safety protocols in place which can be put into action when required. This will involve reviewing the food production process, isolating the incident, and new measures to ensure this problem doesn’t arise again.

6. Verify the effectiveness of your HACCP plan

Once your HACCP plan is in place, you will need to check to make sure that your CCP checks and actions have been successful in producing food safely. These checks will include reviewing records, checking the calibration of instruments and testing the products to verify the effectiveness of your HACCP plan.

7. Keep records of all procedures and actions within the HACCP plan

You will need to create records for all of your CCP monitoring and corrective actions to be able to prove that you are producing food safely on any potential inspection. This also includes a copy of your HACCP plan, including information on products, diagrams, hazard analysis, critical limits, and more. It will also allow you to check that standards are consistently being met and your HACCP plan has been successfully implemented by all staff.

HACCP Training

Virtual College offer several courses which cover all the information on HACCP that you might need to know for your business, from Understanding HACCP and the content around it to Level 2 & 3 HACCP Courses to train your staff on the key principles and how to implement HACCP in your business. These courses come with 24 hours learner support to help you along with your courses each step of the way and can be worked through at your own pace to suit you.


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 visit our full FAQ Hub

Related resources