With an effective HACCP plan, restaurants have a better chance at keeping their clients safe at all times. This system sets out the principles for food safety for all businesses serving it, and how to minimize and eliminate any possible risk. Short for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, HACCP is a necessary system to apply to every phase of the supply chain for food products.
These restrictions are followed by food businesses around the world, and aim to catch any potential danger as early as possible. Understanding HACCP, and the principles acting as its foundation, is essential to preventing any unwanted food safety violations —and the consequences if a client should get sick.
Here’s a closer look at what HACCP is, and what food safety training students should know.
What HACCP Is and the Seven Key Principles Behind It
HACCP is a system outlining best practices for food safety management. The concept of HACCP originated during the early 1960s, thanks to a collaboration between NASA, Pillsbury, and the United States Army. The collaboration was sparked by the realization that food safety during space travel would be a new challenge to explore, given the absence of toilets on Apollo 11—the first spacecraft ever to travel from Earth to the Moon. The shuttle itself was also quite compact, adding to the challenge. HACCP was developed as a result.
HACCP’s seven principles, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are as follows:
- Conduct a hazard analysis at all stages
- Identify and determine CCPs (Critical Control Points)
- Establish critical limits regarding the food’s acceptability
- Put monitoring procedures in place
- Make a plan for deviation procedures if a CCP does not meet the established critical limit
- Have procedures in place to verify company compliance with HACCP
- Develop documentation, including details of the HACCP plan and monitoring records
Following these principles in order, any potential hazards can be identified and corrected as early as the raw material production stage, where physical, chemical, and biological dangers can be found. These three types of dangers can encompass hazards such as:
- Foreign substances
- Pathogenic microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi, viruses)
Human error and manufacturing facility issues can also lead to food safety hazards prior to the distribution phase. Failure to establish or adhere to a robust HACCP system can lead to recalls, unnecessary waste, and greater operational costs. With this in mind, food safety departments will often have knowledgeable experts on the team with HACCP certification.
Why Food Safety Training Students Should Understand Its Importance
Any restaurant or other type of business serving food must have a Food Safety Plan explicitly outlining the guidelines for how that business will prevent or eradicate any possible hazards to client health and safety. The seven HACCP principles are what these Food Safety Plans are based on. The use of HACCP as the foundation of a business’ Food Safety Plan is meant to reassure all parties involved that food products are safe, being monitored, and that the program itself is being managed appropriately.
However, it’s also worth remembering that HACCP should not be the only resource a Food Safety Plan is based around. More specifically, it is not a substitute for techniques such as traceability, sanitation, or pest control. Any business involved with food processing will also need to follow five procedures before any other phase can begin:
- Form a team of people responsible for developing the HACCP plan
- Describe the food product in detail, and how to use it
- Make a list of any ingredients used to make the product, or that have come into contact with it
- Produce a diagram for process flow, and a plant schematic diagram for traffic and product flow
- Complete an on-site verification of both diagrams
When there are hazards with regards to food safety, clients can get injured or sick. Students in food safety training should be well aware of this risk, as food quality assurance and quality control, food safety, and food product development are all topics they learn about. Moreover, inadequate management of such hazards can result in legal, reputational, and monetary repercussions.
Having a Food Safety Plan in place helps to prevent losing customers as a result of poor food safety, and for receiving a damaged reputation over causing allergic reactions, food poisoning, or other illnesses. This plan is also meant to protect businesses from losing money or being sued over these incidents, as well as to prevent any food products from being recalled.
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