Creating a HACCP plan from the ground up may seem like a nearly impossible task — but, as always with hard work, the important thing is to surround yourself with the right team. We have already explained the 7 principles on which the HACCP plan is based, but today we will explore step by step how to create a HACCP plan.
1. Building a team.
The first step in creating a HACCP plan is to bring together a multidisciplinary team — engineers, production managers, hygiene and safety experts, microbiologists and a quality assurance specialist. You can also seek outside experts on potential biological, chemical and physical hazards.
2. Describing the product or service.
After assembling the in-house team and contractors, describe the product or service — what kind of food do you intend to serve, what ingredients will you use and how will it be processed? The method of distribution should be well defined, as well as the temperature at which the food will be transported (frozen, refrigerated or at room temperature).
3. Defining future consumers.
When creating a HACCP plan, the product is as important as its end consumers. Children, immunocompromised individuals, the elderly and people with food intolerances require special care that should be outlined in the plan.
4. Building the flowchart and design the process.
The HACCP flow chart should provide a clear and simple explanation of all the steps involved in the process. It can include not only the process under the control of the company but also steps that occur before (with suppliers) and after (with distributors).
5. Confirming the flow diagram on location.
The team responsible for HACCP should check the flow diagram on location. The ultimate goal is to test the accuracy of the flow diagram. When incomplete, it’s imperative to design the necessary changes, adapt and improve the HACCP plan. After this step, you can apply the 7 principles of a HACCP plan that we’ve talked about.
6. Conducting a hazard analysis.
At the time of creation of the HACCP plan, you should start with the first principle — making an analysis of biological, chemical and physical hazards. The first stage of the hazard analysis is to identify the different hazards; the second is to evaluate them. Only then can you decide on the necessary measures to control them and prevent an accident.
7. Choosing critical control points.
Once the risks have been identified and the forms of control set, the second principle is to define the critical control points (CCPs). It’s also necessary to establish critical limits (Principle 3) and to monitor each of the CCPs (principle 4). Safety always comes first.
8. Action plan: how to fix mistakes?
But the HACCP plan must go even further. The team has to predict how to act when CCPs are not within the control lines. Corrective measures — such as preventing the batch from reaching the final consumer — must be implemented and a protocol should be established to identify possible reasons for the error.
In principle, the HACCP plan phase is complete. Now it’s time to put it into practice and ensure all maintenance procedures. Quality control and product testing are essential, and so is sporadic equipment maintenance. Keep all this information organized and available so that it can be useful in a future review of the HACCP plan.