food-safety | 5 mins read

7 Easy Steps to Creating and Implementing an Effective Food Safety Plan

7 easy steps to creating and implementing an effective food safety plan 1649742745 2257
Sanchari Chatterjee

By Sanchari Chatterjee

Step 1- Identify Food Safety Hazards

If you are in the food production business, having the highest food safety standards must be on top of your priority list, as you are both legally and ethically bound to protect your customers from any food-related hazards. If you do not have a food safety plan in place, you might end up exposing your customers and a larger population to harmful bacteria, viruses, allergens or even foreign objects. So how does a restaurant take adequate preventive control and develop a robust safety plan? Firstly, you must have a dedicated team for your Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan.

HACCP is a food management process in which food safety is ensured through a series of analysis and control measures for biological, chemical and physical hazards. The first step in developing a food safety HACCP plan is conducting a hazard analysis. For each step of food processing, your HACCP team needs to perform a hazard analysis to identify possible biological, chemical and physical hazards. These may be the source of bacteria, viruses, allergens or foreign material like plastic or grit that may cause injury and harm.

Step 2- Identify Critical Control Points

A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a step in food processing in which control can be applied to prevent a food safety problem, or reduce it to acceptable levels. The potential hazards that are likely to cause foodborne illnesses or injury must be addressed after identifying the Critical Control Points. The control points must be carefully drafted in the HACCP plan and followed diligently.

CCPs can be identified at any step of the food making process, such as thermal processing, ingredient testing, chilling or testing of the product for metal contamination. It is also important to note that different food businesses may have different Critical Control Points depending on the establishment's floor plan, equipment, ingredient selection, manufacturing practices, etc. So identifying the unique control points for your own business is crucial. It is unwise to blindly imitate other establishments and their practices.

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Step 3- Lay out Procedures for Preventive Controls

step 3 lay out procedures for preventive controls 1649766372 5637

Once the critical points are identified and established, the next step in your food safety plan is to exercise preventive control measures and set limits for potential hazards at the CCPs. These include identifying minimum and maximum cooking temperatures, the upper limit of food cooling time, and so on. Each Critical Control Point should have one or more preventive control measures to ensure that hazards are prevented or reduced.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed the minimum cooking temperatures needed for each specific food item such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, etc. This food temperature guideline can be made a part of your safety plans at the preventive control stage.

Step 4- Check Critical Control Limits

After establishing critical control limits, you need to make sure they are being followed diligently and regularly by your kitchen staff. Critical control limits must be observed and checked regularly. Establish a monitoring process to assess whether the Critical Control Points are in check. In case of a loss of control, immediate remedial action should be taken during the monitoring process. The monitoring part also helps with documentation of the checks, verifications and preventive control measures applied.

The monitoring process typically includes taking temperature measurements, making visual observations, checking moisture levels, and so on. Microbiological checks are seldom effective at this stage; only physical and chemical checks are done.

Step 5- Plan How to Solve Control Point Problems

This is the stage where you take corrective action in case of any deviation from the food safety plan. While methodically following the HACCP plan should not require you to encounter problems that need corrective action, unexpected issues may still occur.

Corrective action to prevent food safety hazards can include determining the cause of the deviation or non-compliance, checking the disposition of the food product causing the issue, and making note of the corrective action taken to eliminate the hazard. This stage should involve a detailed documentation of how the anomaly took place, reasons behind it and the procedure followed to ensure the food was rendered safe again.

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Step 6- Maintain Records of Corrective Actions

step 6 maintain records of corrective actions 1649766373 6441

This is also known as the verification process in the Food Management and safety plan. Other than monitoring, good manufacturing practices include frequently checking if your HACCP plan is working for your business and taking care of necessary food safety measures. The FDA recommends that instead of testing at the end of devising the food safety plan, verification should be done at each stage of developing and testing the procedures.

Verifications and record-keeping can also be done when there is an unexpected failure or a sudden hazardous situation that needs to be dealt with. These are idea situations to test your HACCP plan for food safety and see if the measures are working for you.

Step 7- Review Food Safety Plan Regularly

An essential step in the Restaurant Management and food safety procedure is to review the efficiency of your HACCP plan on a regular basis and maintain proper documents about these reviews. These reviews should include a detailed summary of the hazard analysis conducted by your HACCP team at the start, the entire food safety plan with details of the responsibilities of each team member, a description of the food items, critical limits, monitoring procedures, corrective actions and verifications. The review should also include the detailed documentation of each step, the corrective measures and the records that are generated during the operations.

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