HACCP is the abbreviation for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. It is an internationally recognized management system with a preventive approach to food safety, which means its main goal is to avoid hazards before products are made available to the consumers, instead of then inspecting the finished products.
HACCP can be applied to all stages of food production, processing and distribution, and it is based on 7 principles, which must be considered in the implementation of a HACCP system:
1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis (HA)
In this step, you (or, ideally, someone with the right expertise) should identify and evaluate any hazards that can be present in every stage of the process.
These hazards can be biological (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.), chemical (such as pesticides and toxins) or physical (like plastic, glass or other unwanted materials which could harm the consumers).
2. Identify the Critical Control Points (CCP)
The second step is to identify the CCPs, that is, the points where you can apply controls in the process, in order to avoid, reduce or eliminate one or multiple hazards. You’ll also need to identify the adequate preventive measure to be taken in each of your CCPs, such as the use of a specific environmental condition.
3. Establish critical limits
For each measure associated with each Critical Control Point, it is important that critical limits are defined. Critical limits are the criteria that must be observed to discern between what is acceptable or not acceptable for the identified hazards.
4. Monitor every CCP
The process must be monitored at every previously defined Critical Control Point to ensure that the critical limits described above are being met as expected. Therefore, it is essential to define and apply effective monitoring procedures for the measurements at every CCP, and they should specify the conditions under which these measurements are to be made.
5. Establish corrective measures
Not every CCP will always be under control or within the critical limits that you previously established. If the necessary criteria are not met, it is necessary to know what actions to perform to avoid that unsafe food products reach consumers, and also to identify the reasons for the critical limits not having been met, so that the problem does not occur again.
6. Establish verification procedures
You will need to verify that the HACCP plan is valid and working as intended. This verification should be done regularly and include reviews of the plans and CCP records, calibration of instruments, biological sampling, product testing, and more.
7. Create a recordkeeping system
Finally, it is important to keep records and documents with the purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of the measures involved in the previous steps. These records should document the monitoring of CCPs, critical limits, corrective measures and verifications, as well as information about the hazard analysis and the team involved in the HACCP.
The management of all of these processes can be centralized and simplified using an intuitive tool like Infraspeak, which will also allow you to compare performances and to simplify the compliance with the legal regulations.