Any business owner working in the food and beverage industry knows how vital food safety is. Not only is food safety vital for maintaining a positive reputation in the field, but it’s also vital for preventing the loss of a business and potential lawsuits as a result of food poisoning. This is where a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system comes into play.
HACCP plans might seem complex, but they’re incredibly efficient at creating a safe and healthy space behind the line and in the kitchen. This system can provide a globally-accepted and proven approach to reducing or eliminating safety hazards typically found in food production and preparation systems. Specifically, HACCP systems aim to reduce possible biological, chemical, and physical hazards that can compromise the safety of different food items and products. Each and every product and process in a kitchen must have an individual HACCP plan.
HACCP systems are simple in nature– they involve risk assessments, analysis and critical control, monitoring procedures, and other processes designed to keep food items in check. Food safety is constantly evolving, and there are many technologies and solutions out there that can help businesses be food safety compliant. A HACCP system also uses these technologies and solutions to improve the safety of your food products. Creating your own individualized HACCP plans is quite easy, but it needs to be done correctly. In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what a HACCP plan involves and how to create your own plan.
What is a HACCP Plan?
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is a largely recognized system designed to prevent, eliminate, or reduce food safety hazards. Any consumable food item must adhere to strict preparation processes to ensure consumer safety, from obvious ingredients like meat and fish down to chocolates and whole ingredients.
Think of the HACCP system as a management program. Your business involves many different management programs, from finances to sales. A developed, personalized HACCP plan is no different– it helps keep your business afloat.
Is HACCP Necessary for All Food Businesses?
Yes– and in some places, you may be required to be HACCP compliant in order to continue operations. The HACCP system is important because it controls the quality of food items used in restaurants and food businesses, and prevents potentially hazardous food products from reaching consumers. Controlling food risks can assure that your customers are safe and your business will maintain compliance.
How to Develop a HACCP Plan
Finish Your Prerequisite Programs
Prerequisite food safety programs vary, depending on how your business processes food. These programs are designed to essentially audit the current state of your food processing practices. They will often include a variety of items for product processing, including:
- Kitchen surface cleanliness
- Kitchen surface conditions
- Temperature control
- Food safety training
- Cross-contamination practices
- Management of common allergens
- Pest control
- Labeling practices for stored items
- Maintenance of hygiene stations, such as toilets, bathrooms, hand washing, etc.
- Water safety
Complete these programs to get a clear picture of what needs to change.
Assign Your HACCP Team
Your HACCP team should involve people with a wide range of skills. Each member of this team will be dedicated to critical control point HACCP practices and will identify hazards on an ongoing basis. Your team should include, at a minimum:
- A team leader – They will direct team workflows, listen to concerns, and help the rest of the team contribute.
- A commodity System Specialist – They will have intensive knowledge of your specific system and will be involved in the creation of flow diagrams.
- Various additional specialists – Depending on the scale of your business and what you manufacture, you may want to introduce a few different specialists. These include microbiologists, chemists, toxicologists, quality control managers, engineers, etc.
- Specialized staff – The people involved in the production process are just as valuable as your specialists. These include material buyers, production staff, packaging professionals, etc. They know the process and have experience with it.
- A technical secretary – They will record all information related to HACCP analysis.
If your HACCP plan changes in the future, be sure to reassess your staff to reflect these changes.
Understand the Product
Create a full, thorough description of the food product. This should include customer specifications, safety relevance, physical properties, and the final product. Depending on the product, it should also include information about microbial growth water levels and pH. This will help your team pick out hazards that are associated with the product.
What’s the Intended Use?
Consider the intended use of your product. Will it be consumed? Will it be cooked first or processed some other way? This is very important when it comes to hazard analysis.
Commodity Flow Diagrams
Your team’s first course of action will be to create commodity flow diagrams. Your commodity specialist will be helpful for this step, as systems differ significantly in different businesses and countries.
Flow Diagram Confirmation
Once the flow diagram is complete, the commodity system will be analyzed and information will be compared to the information in the CFD. This process involves step-by-step exploration of materials, practices, processes, employees, controls, etc.
This is one of the most important parts of a HACCP plan. Your team will identify effective hazards, whether they are real or potential. These hazards will be considered for every stage of your commodity system. Three types of hazards will be explored:
The probability of a hazard occurring is called a risk. Risks have values from zero to one, depending on how certain your team is that the hazard will be present. After identifying possible hazards, your team will work to understand relative health risks for consumers. Once a food safety hazard has been discovered, control measures must be implemented.
Identify Critical Control Points
Critical control points or CCPs will need to be developed when a hazard is identified. If a step in the process is identified to have a safety hazard, the product would be considered unsafe for consumption. All production should cease until a CCP can be provided.
Establish Critical Limits and Monitoring Procedures
Critical limits must be established for each CCP. These limits involve temperature, time, pH, etc. A monitoring system should then be established to confirm that all critical limits for every CCP is met. Monitoring systems vary, and there are numerous vendors who have specialized in software systems that do just that.
Choose Your Corrective Action
If your monitoring system identifies that critical limits are not met, action must be taken. All corrective techniques should account for worst-case scenarios. They should also be based on tangible assessment and risk severity.
Verify and Record
Once everything involved in your HACCP plan has been established and your CCPs have been verified, the plan itself must be verified. This should be done on an ongoing basis several times a year. Everything involved in your HACCP plan should be analyzed and recorded.
How was our guide to everything you need to know about developing a HACCP plan? Tell us how a HACCP plan has benefited your restaurant or food business in the comments section below.