HACCP is a system for managing the safety of commercial food products. It is based on the principles of identifying hazards and then controlling or eliminating them. These may include various biological, chemical, or physical hazards that may threaten the safety of the food.
In many countries, it is a legal requirement for food businesses to verify the safety of their food products. They are expected to have a food safety management system that complies with the principles of HACCP.
There are startups, such as FoodDocs, that provide you with a digital HACCP plan based on your particular type of business. They offer an easy and quick way to get a HACCP for legal certification for your food company.
This food safety management plan will help prevent and control food safety hazards. It provides a systemic approach to ensure the safety of the food through all the processing it goes through before being sold. Everything from sanitation, storage, distribution, and transport is monitored to ensure that the quality and safety of food are maintained.
A HACCP plan, if followed and documented properly can act as an insurance policy for food businesses. It provides them with certification of the standard of their products. This in turn helps them to prove the authenticity of their business.
A legally certified food business is more likely to be trusted by customers and increases the chances of growing it. Investors are also more likely to invest in your business if you have legal backing for it.
Following is a brief analysis of the steps involved in a HACCP plan:
Identifying the Hazards
In a food business, food products go through a lot of steps such as purchasing, storage, cooking, and delivery. At each of these stages, there is a risk of contamination.
You need to carefully inspect each step and think of possible scenarios where something might go wrong. Identifying the potential hazards is the first step in HACCP.
For example stored raw meat could contaminate other food products nearby, introducing salmonella in them. Therefore raw meat must be handled with caution so that it does not cross-contaminate other cooked food products. This is a biological hazard that can lead to serious food poisoning.
Dust or detergent could incidentally fall into uncovered food while you are cleaning the kitchen. Shards of broken glass could also get mixed into food by accident which would lead to physical harm.
In recent years, there has been increasing awareness about food allergens. People understand that they can have severe and even life-threatening effects for those with food allergies. So now companies are required to provide accurate information on the ingredients in their products that could act as food allergens.
Specify the Critical Control Points
After identifying all the possible food hazards, it is important to ensure that they are managed and controlled effectively. This requires that you are following a prepared set of steps to implement food safety, such as keeping the hygiene in check.
Critical Control Points or CCPs are steps that need to be taken to try to minimize the food safety hazards that may occur or to eliminate them.
This controls the safety of the food products before they are sold. For example, properly cooking meat or seafood could kill parasites or other harmful microorganisms that may reside in the raw form of food.
Implement a System to Monitor and Regulate CCPs
Ensuring that the CCPs are being carried out adequately requires that there is a system to keep it in check. Critical limits should be identified which can help to point out when a CCP is not being followed properly.
For example, thermostats can be used to monitor the temperature of the food. This will make it easier to identify when the food has been properly cooked. Such as beef requires to be at a minimum of 70°C for at least two minutes to be fully cooked.
After CCPs and critical limits are properly set in place, it is important to have a system to monitor them. Each step needs to be carefully controlled and recorded.
This usually involves the management of certain key parameters such as temperature and time. Though the strategy and frequency with which you might need to implement these actions will depend on your particular type of food business.
Establish Corrective Measures to be Taken Following a CCP Violation
CCP must be monitored continuously so that when a particular CCP is not being followed then necessary measures should be taken to bring it under control. For instance, a technical fault or power loss could lead to the refrigerator not working properly.
As a result of this, the temperature of the stored food could rise beyond the recommended level. If this goes on for several hours, the meat should be disposed of. Technical faults should also be attended to to prevent this from happening again.
Establish a Proper System for the Documentation and Verification of the Principles and Applications of HACCP
The HACCP system must be reviewed at regular intervals. In case of any changes brought to the system, it must be verified that the new installations or changes must comply with the principles of HACCP. For instance, if an oven is replaced with a new one, its efficiency must be checked by testing it and probing the food with a thermostat.
Proper implementation of the principles of HACCP must be ensured. In addition to this, appropriate documentation must be carried out. Everything must be monitored and recorded. The records must be kept safely and should be readily available in case the need arises to view them.
Documentation is a vital part of the application of the HACCP system. To demonstrate that the legislative laws are being followed properly, evidence needs to be provided in the form of written records. It is unrealistic to show compliance with HACCP without documental proof.
The extent of the record-keeping will vary from business to business. It depends on the size and essence of each business. The control must be maintained without producing excessive and unnecessary paperwork.