A Simple Guide to the Principles of HACCP

aapsExperts in food safety training believe that the HACCP certification first originated from WW2 artillery shell testing. Today, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) is used as a preventative tool to ensure food safety, helping professionals anticipate risks along stages of the food chain including packaging and distribution. Workers in the retail food supply chain, such as manufacturers or packagers will often be required to obtain HACCP certification to ensure proper risk-assessment. This may include workers in the meat and seafood industries, and fascinatingly – even those who produce and package space food. Whether you’re planning to obtain your HACCP certification in Toronto, or in another location in the province—you’ll be required to know and understand the fundamental principles of HACCP.

Conduct a Hazard Analysis

The first step to effective HACCP is determining potential food safety hazards and identifying preventative measures. Food safety hazards may include biological chemicals or anything else which can make the food product unsafe for human consumption. This is the discovery stage where a plan is created to facilitate the identification of any harmful bacteria.

Identify, Create and Observe Critical Control Points

A critical control point (CCP) is a stage within the food production procedure at which it is safe to intervene in order to prevent, reduce or eliminate a food safety hazard. This “control” will often be mapped out by a worker through a CCP decision tree. A critical limit (CL) must then be established for each CCP. The CL can be measured by various metrics, including time, temperature, pH level, or weight. For instance, the specific amount of time it takes to cook a food product (poultry, meat) to ensure that it’s safe for consumption is a critical limit.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s necessary to monitor and observe the previous activities to ensure the process is controlled at each CCP. To thoroughly monitor a product, you might use a thermometer to check the internal temperature at each CCP.

Correct the Problem and Verify Your Work

Of course, if the monitoring process has indicated that the critical limits were not met, corrective actions must be taken. At this point, someone with HACCP training would determine the problem, and take the required steps to fix it before the product is put on the market. This stage in the process is crucial, because if corrective measures aren’t taken to secure a product’s safety, it can lead to a food recall once the food hits supermarket shelves.

Once corrective actions have been taken, you’ll want to verify that they are effective through an extensive evaluation process which includes testing, sampling, and monitoring. This will ensure that the HACCP system is valid and accurate.  It will also allow you to make sure that the corrective measures you’ve taken are performing as intended.

Write It All Down

Maintaining a record of all of the activities and procedures that were executed while establishing the safety of a product is an absolute must. Why? Because these records will act as proof that the product is in fact safe. It will also be necessary for the official verification that will be performed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. You’ll need to document the results found during the observation and verification stages, as well as all of the corrective actions that were taken to resolve any deviations that may have occurred.