food-safety | 10 mins read

7 HACCP Steps to Food Safety- Secure Your Restaurant Today

7 haccp steps to food safety secure your restaurant today 1646661782 5428
Debdutta Bhattacharjee

By Debdutta Bhattacharjee

What is the HACCP System?

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Heard about the 'Fly in My Soup' joke? A customer at a restaurant tells the waiter, "Hey! There is a fly in my soup." The waiter calmly replies, "Don't worry, he won't eat much." However, in reality, a fly in one's soup is no laughing matter. It's a serious offence that can invite foodborne illnesses.

To put things in perspective, foodborne pathogens have been found to be some of the biggest contributors to disease in the U.S. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, one in six Americans falls prey to domestically-acquired foodborne illnesses caused by 31 known pathogens (like viruses, bacteria, and parasites), and a number of unspecified agents.

Add to that nearly 130,000 hospitalizations and more than 3,000 deaths, and the emphasis on food safety becomes easy to understand. Moreover, food safety has assumed even greater importance as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What a food business, therefore, must do is to make itself HACCP-compliant. HACCP or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is an internationally-recognized risk management system. It ensures food safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical or physical hazards at every step of the food chain, from production, procurement, and handling of raw materials, to preparation, distribution, and consumption of the finished products.

Additionally, the Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene, promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, lays down hygiene controls during primary production of food, and during all the other stages, till the final consumption of the food product. This FAO document also recommends an approach rooted in the HACCP principles for rendering food safe for human consumption and trade.

What are the 7 HACCP Steps/Principles?

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Let us now look at the seven principles of HACCP-

1. Conduct hazard analysis- This looks to identify what could likely cause food poisoning. It could, for example, be the Salmonella that crept into a cooked chicken dish because of cross-contamination with raw meat. It could also be detergent, human hair, or dead insects in uncovered food.

2. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs)- These are situated at every point where hazards can be warded off, eliminated, or reduced. An example of this is the heat process at a specific time and temperature that is designed to kill a particular microbiological pathogen.

3. Establish critical limits- These refer to the actual minimum/maximum time and temperature values to which a chemical, physical or biological parameter must be controlled so that the food safety risk can be allayed. For instance, the critical limit when cooking pork chops has been fixed at 145-degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, according to the 2001 FDA Food Code.

4. Establish monitoring procedures- This involves a set of measurements to keep tabs on parameters like temperature and time. It tracks the operation of a food business in terms of food safety standards, determines if there is a loss of control at a CCP, and also produces records that can be later used for verification.

5. Establish corrective action- These become necessary when deviations from the set procedures occur. Corrective measures have to then be initiated to stop the contaminated food from reaching the consumers. If, for instance, the temperature inside a refrigerator moves above or below normal due to a technical glitch, the food would have to be discarded and the refrigerator repaired.

6. Establish verification procedures- This is done to determine the validity of the HACCP plan and check whether the system is running according to the plan.

7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures- Proper documentation and record-keeping help in proving that the food was produced and handled safely. Records maintained as part of the HACCP system should include information on the Hazard Analysis, HACCP plan, critical limits, monitoring, corrective actions, verification procedures and schedules, and so on.

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What are Common Food Safety Hazards?

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The common food safety hazards are-

1. Biological hazards- These include bacteria, viruses, molds, yeast, and parasites.

2. Chemical hazards- These refer to pesticides, cleaning agents, food additives, insecticides, etc.

3. Physical hazards- These may include pieces of glass and/or jewelry, packaging material, pieces of wire, nails, human hair, pest droppings, dead insects and other organisms, and animal feather and fur.

4. Allergens- If the food served at a restaurant contains an allergen or a substance that may induce an allergic reaction in customers, the food will be unsafe to them. The presence of allergens may cause the food product to be recalled. For instance some time ago, Torn & Glasser announced the recall of Sprouts Farmer Market dark chocolate-covered cherries due to the presence of undeclared almonds. People having severe sensitivity or an allergy to almonds could have suffered serious, or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consumed this product.

Why are HACCP Food Guidelines Important?

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1. By following HACCP guidelines, food businesses are able to assure their customers that their products are free from biological, physical, and chemical contaminants, and are also free from allergens.

HACCP management systems put stress on personal hygiene, separation of raw and cooked food, sanitization of surfaces, and maintaining a safe minimum internal temperature. These are necessary to render the Food Safe for consumption and showcase the restaurant's commitment to public health.

2. A strong commitment to HACCP and other food safety management systems ensures that food safety laws are strictly followed and spares restaurants the trouble of having to pay large fines.

3. By incorporating the seven principles of HACCP in its functioning, it is possible for a restaurant to be on top of food safety requirements at every stage of the food chain.

4. The HACCP system also allows a restaurant to pinpoint critical control points at which action must be taken to make sure that the food is safe. For example, one has to be mindful of temperature danger zones. This helps in fixing consistent standards of food handling and makes room for monitoring and corrective measures if the actual processes deviate from the norm.

5. With the HACCP principles, prerequisite programs, and generally, food handling and preparation being continuously documented, guesswork is taken out of the system.

A HACCP-compliant restaurant would be a profitable restaurant as customers will flock to it, assured by the fact that their health is in safe hands. Such a business will also avoid legal tangles and save money in the bargain.

How to Draw up an Effective Food Safety Management Plan?

Drawing up an effective food safety management plan must take into account HACCP principles. Before HACCP principles are applied, a restaurant has to ensure that its employees are properly trained in food safety procedures and familiarized with the HACCP principles and the HACCP process.

A business would do well to employ modern food safety technology like the Zip HACCP food safety software offered by Hubworks. The Zip HACCP software solution lets a restaurant monitor critical food safety tasks in real time and ensures that the standard operating procedures are followed at all times.

The Blu 2 Bluetooth food temperature monitor, which can be effortlessly connected to the Zip HACCP application, ensures that the food is neither overcooked nor undercooked, and is free from pathogens. It allows the user to be mindful of Temperature Danger zones.

Furthermore, a restaurant would also be well-served by promoting a food safety culture among all levels of the management and staff, conducting regular food safety audits, and even letting third-party auditors assess the restaurant's performance.

A business has to first assemble a HACCP team. Next, the product, its ingredients, its processing and distribution methods are to be defined. Then the expected use of the product is to be determined and the intended consumers of the product are to be identified (like immunocompromised individuals, infants, elderly, and so on).

A flow diagram should then be prepared to describe the steps associated with the processes that are directly under the control of the business. The accuracy of the flow diagram has to be verified by the HACCP team conducting an on-site review of the operation.

Once these are done, the HACCP principles can then be applied to particular products and processes to guarantee food safety and Disease Control. A food safety plan also requires the implementation of HACCP prerequisite programs, including personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, pest control, and so on.

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What Happens if You Fail a Safety Food Inspection?

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A food business must have a safety plan in place to convince inspectors and consumers that the food served is safe.

However, a restaurant that fails a Food Safety inspection will be issued a warning and a notice to address the health code violation as soon as possible. It may still be allowed to operate if the violation is not a major one. If, however, the restaurant flunks the inspection test again, the regulators may recommend shutting down the restaurant.

A health inspection can be either routine or a follow-up, or done to see if the HACCP protocols are being adhered to. It can also result from a complaint received by the
Health Department.


An inspection may also be undertaken to determine whether the facility conforms to the set standards with regard to refrigeration and heating elements, placement of sinks, and so on. It may be done for a business to renew its basic license as well. There could also be joint inspections with other agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Apart from these, there may be training inspections as well.

HACCP System FAQs

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1. Is HACCP a new program?

No. It was the 1960s when HACCP was first used. The Pillsbury Company used HACCP guidelines to make the safest and highest quality food for astronauts. HACCP has been endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods, and the Codex Alimentarius.

2. What is the role of microbiological testing in HACCP programs?

Microbiological testing helps in verifying that the HACCP system is working properly and also allows trends to be tracked and the profiles of products to be monitored. With the help of microbiological data, plants are able to know when the production process is not being adequately controlled, or verify whether prevention measures are indeed reducing pathogen levels.

3. How can HACCP principles be applied from the farm to the fork?

On the farm, actions like maintaining farm sanitation, monitoring feed, and practicing animal health management techniques can help to prevent contamination. Efforts should also be made to prevent contamination during slaughter and processing.

Further down the line, controls should be in place during the stages of transportation, storage, and distribution. Retail stores must ensure proper sanitation, refrigeration, storage, and handling practices. Finally, in restaurants and homes, personnel cooking and handling the food should strictly follow food safety protocols.

4. How can distribution and retail take HACCP into account?

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) aims to work with the USFDA for developing federal standards regarding the safe handling of food products during transportation, distribution, and storage before they are delivered to retail stores. It would be a joint effort by the FSIS and USFDA to guide retail stores on food safety through the Food Code.

5. Can consumers use HACCP?

HACCP-like practices can indeed be implemented at home. All one needs to do is follow proper storage, handling, cooking, and cleaning procedures.

For example, meat and poultry products must be properly refrigerated, raw meat and poultry should be kept away from cooked and ready-to-eat meals, meat and poultry should be thoroughly cooked, and leftovers must be refrigerated to prevent growth of bacteria.

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"Our customer's trust is what keeps us in business. They expect fresh tasting food with no threat of ill-born diseases. Zip HACCP keeps us compliant with HACCP and FDA regulations through its integrated temperature solutions, food safety assurance, and end-to-end task reporting. We also use Zip Inventory to save time on inventory counts and have much-needed predictability to our ordering process. The Hubworks business management apps are perfect for our restaurants."

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