HACCP, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, is the systematic approach to the identification, prevention and control of hazards to food safety. The proprietors of Zip HACCP, a task management application, want to educate its customers, current and new, on the efficiencies and the effectiveness of this technology and its integration with a HACCP program, the corrective actions and critical controls.
This technology is critical to the success of your business in connection with compliance, product safety and employee training. There are features to update standard operating procedures in real time as may be necessary during the verification process, and to initiate alerts when critical limits are not met or when issues arise.
With this application, all employees will have immediate access to temperature readings and controls, real-time reporting, checklists for hazards and mandatory corrective actions. The business owner will be able to remotely monitor the implementation of the HACCP and the food safety plans established for all locations.
Although a HACCP plan is not mandatory for all food establishments, the principles of the plan are a good foundation for any food safety program and for establishments subject to health inspections. The technology of the Zip HACCP application will aid in the implementation of this program under the guidance and compliance parameters of a HACCP plan. It is important to know that health inspectors will be conducting their investigations under the guiding principles of HACCP.
With the use of the Zip HACCP technology and, once the plan is implemented, the business owner will find that operating costs will be reduced from the efficient oversight. A byproduct from this efficient oversight will be the drive for continuous improvement.
This article will define and speak to the seven principles of HACCP to which the application will monitor and aid in the record-keeping and verification processes mandatory under the plan.
Under the guidance of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (the “FSIS”), HACCP provides the framework for every establishment within the food industry to conduct science-based controls during processing and preparation prior to the end product reaching consumers. These controls must be validated as effective in eliminating, preventing or reducing the hazards that are “reasonably likely” to occur.
HACCP, and its seven principles, are guidelines for the rational means of assuring food safety from harvest to consumption. These seven principals are-
- Conduct a Hazard Analysis
- Determine Critical Control Points
- Reach and maintain Critical Limits
- Establish Monitoring Procedures
- Establish Corrective Actions
- Establish Record-keeping and Documentation Procedures
- Establish Verification Procedures
Below is an explanation of each principle and its place and function within an effective HACCP plan.
This first principle is used to recognize and compile a list of hazards reasonably likely to occur that would cause injury or harm if not controlled. At this stage, it is important to consider each step in the process, storage, preparation and delivery to the customer. Any concerns of safety must be differentiated from those pertaining to quality.
The hazard analysis is the foundation of an effective food safety plan. Hazards can be biological, chemical or physical and must be controlled. It is important to note that similar establishments handling the same products may identify different hazards, and varying controls may be applied to similar hazards.
A hazard analysis will be unique to an establishment because of the differences in equipment, supply lines, employee training and production practices. The purpose of the analysis is not to prevent all hazards, as this is impossible, but to control the hazards that are present in the process.
The identification of all hazards, and the preventative measures in place for their control, need to be made a part of the standard operating procedures for each business location.
Critical control points control a hazard. These are steps to be taken, or procedures to follow, upon a hazard for its reduction, prevention or elimination. Examples of critical control points are-
- Certifying incoming product
- Recording a temperature
- Testing for chemicals
A critical limit must be assigned to each control point. These limits are the parameters to determine whether a critical point is in control. Critical limits are published by the FSIS, or the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”). These limits are scientific and technical, they bear no subjectivity, and they must be measured and quantified. These thresholds pertain to temperature, time, physical dimensions and pathogen levels, to name a few.
All limits must be able to work effectively within the capabilities of an establishment.
Monitoring procedures must be in place to ensure that the limits set for each critical point are met and maintained. In this instance, the definition of monitoring is the planned sequence of observations or measurements, at planned frequencies, to produce an accurate record for future verification and reference.
Each food establishment is responsible for its monitoring procedures. The monitoring procedure has three objectives-
- To track control of the process
- To recognize a deviation or loss of control
- To provide written documentation for verification
The HACCP plan must contain corrective actions when monitoring confirms that critical limits established for each critical point are not met. Corrective actions must be taken to prevent hazardous foods from reaching consumers.
Relevant corrective actions may consist of-
- Identifying and eliminating any deviations
- Ensuring a critical control point is contained after a corrective action is applied
- Ensuring established actions prevent any recurrences
- Ensuring that no product affected by a deviation reaches a consumer
The HACCP plan may be specific to a corrective action, or an establishment may be able to generally state that-
it will “address the regulatory requirements in 9 CFR Part 417.3, Correction Action.”
A consultant within the food safety and inspection service may need to be retained for the publishing of corrective actions within the plan.
Records are physical evidence documenting the HACCP system. The measures taken at a critical control point, and any corrective actions taken, need to be recorded and kept on file. These records will track the history of a product should questions or issues arise. There are regulatory requirements that a food establishment must maintain the following four types of records-
- Summary of hazard analysis and the rationale being the identification of a hazard
- HACCP plan
- Supporting documentation
- Daily operational records generated in effecting the plan
- Names within, and the assigned responsibilities of, the HACCP team
- Description of the food item and its distribution, intake and intended use by the consumer
- Flow chart for the process
- Plan summary table for each hazard containing-
a.the critical control point
b.the critical limit
c.the monitoring procedures and frequencies
d.the corrective actions
e.the verification procedures and frequencies
f.the record-keeping system
- Date and time of activity
- Signature or initials of the employee making the entry
- Information and time of all observations
- Description of actual observations or data values obtained
The HACCP plan must be systematically verified. There are four processes involved with verification; every food establishment is responsible for the first three, and the FSIS is responsible for the fourth.
- Validation, the scientific and technical process, to determine if the critical control point and associated critical limits are adequate and sufficient to control the hazard
- Assurance that the HACCP plan, initially and on an ongoing basis, functions properly
- Reassessment of the plan; this must be periodic and documented
- Verification by, or on behalf of, the FSIS that the establishment’s plan is adequate
Conclusion It should be noted by the reader of this article that only the critical limits and the contents of records are finite, while the procedures and the identification of hazards are subjective and unique to the establishment. The critical limits establish the goal, but the procedures and processes implemented to reach and maintain the goal are the responsibility of the owners.
The use of the Zip HACCP application will ensure compliance by the employees of standard operating procedures to affect the HACCP plan. The cloud-based technology will store all records and documentation relative to corrective actions.
Please visit Hubworks' Zip HACCP page to learn more about the features of the app and its integration into an established HACCP plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question- What is an example of a critical point?
Answer- A step, point or procedure applied to a hazard to eliminate, prevent or reduce it to an acceptable level. The most common example of a critical control point is cooking.
- Questions- Can a business owner establish a critical limit?
Answer- No. Critical limits are scientific and technical. These are published by the FSIS and/or the FDA.
- Question- What is the most important part of a HACCP plan?
Answer- The recognition and controls placed upon a hazard.
- Question- Why is HACCP needed?
Answer- HACCP is needed to prioritize and control hazards in food production and preparation before it reaches the consumer.
- Question- How long should HACCP records be kept?
Answer- In the case of refrigerated products, records must be retained for one year. In the case of shelved products, records must be kept for two years.
- Question- How long should food safety records be kept?
Answer- All records must be on-premises for six months. There is no requirement that the records be maintained as hard copies, just maintained. After the six-month requirement, all records must be accessible within 24 hours for two years.
- Question- What are the benefits of a HACCP plan?
Answer- An HACCP plan, whether or not mandatory, will increase food safety, meet industry requirements and significantly increase the passing of inspections without conditions.
- Question- Will the technology of ZipHACCP help with the implementation, monitoring and verification of an HACCP plan and lower my operating costs?