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An Effective HACCP System | Understanding the 12 Steps to Success

an effective haccp system understanding the 12 steps to success
Daphne Blake

By Daphne Blake

A List of Steps on How to Find Success in Your HACCP System

Understanding the HACCP system and the nuts and bolts that it's comprised of will allow you to enhance your food safety and sanitation plan, and enforce it more effectively every step of the way.

Assemble a Team

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As with all teams, having a leader is essential to the proper functioning of your group's efforts. The team members must also know why, when, where, and how to do the functions of their role, and how they work in conjunction with others' roles. Based on HACCP system knowledge, understanding, and experience, team members will be selected for the most appropriate roles and assigned responsibilities based on these roles. Ideally, HACCP system development teams will be comprised of individuals from various backgrounds with different areas of expertise. For example, you could have a team comprised of members from upper management, a purchasing agent, a production worker, an outside consultant, and more.

By enrolling in your team members in an online HACCP systems course or workshop, this will ensure that your team will be built on a solid, consistently educated foundation. Make sure that upper management provides them with the proper materials and resources to accomplish their training.

Describe Your Product

Make sure to write out a detailed description of each product that your business produces. This should include all relevant food safety information. Your description should include the product's name, characteristics, what it will be used for, packaging, shelf life, etcetera.

1. Ingredient List -

It's essential to write down a detailed list of ingredients and raw materials that will be used for each process in your business. You can organize them into categories as a part of your HACCP system if you feel that it will make understanding and execution easier. When in doubt, just make sure each ingredient used is written down.

2. Process Flow Diagram -

A process flow diagram is not only essential to how your business will be run and products utilized but will also help in the education and understanding of your team. It must identify all steps required to prepare your products, from receiving all the way to consumption by your guests. Ideally, the flow diagram will be simple and easy to understand, yet intricately detailed. Avoid making it so complex that it's difficult for your team members to follow or understand.

3. Verify Flow Diagram Process -

It's important that you create a quality flow diagram, but also that you verify how well it works and is enforced. This can be performed by conducting a physical walkthrough of the process, making sure each HACCP standard step listed on your diagram is well-understood. The entire team should be involved in this step, and it should be performed with detail in mind. This is to determine the level of accuracy in your HACCP system in comparison to the physical flow diagram. Should modifications be made, they should be altered in the flow diagram and documented as well.

4. Conduct Hazard Analysis -

This step requires your team to perform an HACCP system compliant hazard analysis and perform re-training sessions where control measures need to be improved upon.

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Identify and create a plan acknowledging each hazard. These hazards may consist of biological hazards, physical hazards, and chemical hazards like the following examples

Biological - These pose the greatest risk to consumers. They include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.
Physical - These include foreign objects in food that could cause illness or injury. They include objects like broken glass shards, rocks, etc.
Chemical - These can either be naturally-occurring or manmade. Some are used in food production and processing, and some are completely forbidden and poisonous.

There are also natural toxins that should be made aware of all team members. These can occur in fruit, vegetables, meat, etcetera. For example, many pits of stone fruits contain a natural toxin called cyanogenic glycoside. When these pits are chewed, they release hydrogen cyanide, which is potentially fatal if consumed.

There are also five types of fish poisoning syndromes

1. Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP)
2. Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP)
3. Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP)
4. Amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP)
5. Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP)
Take into consideration that allergens are present in many food items. Allergens should be addressed with labels, cross-contamination prevention methods, and a thorough cleaning program. All of these detailed procedures should be considered when developing your HACCP system.

1. Determine CCPs (Critical Control Points) -

A CCP is a point in which controls can be used to diminish or prevent a food safety hazard from occurring. CCPs are typically based on food, acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, and moisture. They usually involve things like cooking meats at certain temperatures or ensuring your soup is cooked at an exact temperature long enough for an allotted amount of time to kill off potential pathogens.

2. Establish Critical Limits -

Critical limits are the minimum or maximum for each critical control point. It's essentially the line between the determination of "safe" and "unsafe" for consumption. The critical limits for each hazard are created by establishing risk, what the end product will be used for, and how strict you will be with your limits. They should differ between the various types of hazards. For example, critical limits for physical hazards include parameters such as sizing, metal detectors, and food radar technology. In contrast, critical limit parameters for chemical hazards are usually created through chemical analyses.

3. Monitor -

Critical control points are nothing without monitoring. Creating monitoring methods consists of making consistent and detailed monitoring actions. Each action is called a "verification procedure," and typically consist of initial verification, ongoing verification, and reassessment of the HACCP system plan.

4. Establish Corrective Actions -

Corrective actions are essential to a successful HACCP system. These are the actions which are taken in case the production process or critical limit somehow deviates from the plan or has not been met. Corrective actions should be based on the worst-case scenario, but should also take into consideration the facts, and be quantifiable. The corrective action is required to bring the deviation back within acceptable limits.

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5. Establish Verification Procedures -

Establishing and documenting verification procedures equates to consistency, creating methods, tests, monitoring, and other evaluation methods used to establish whether or not a control measure has or is operating within critical limits' standards. This record-keeping system is effective at ensuring the HACCP system is being effectively and appropriately executed and is also efficient at recognizing trouble areas.

6. Documentation -

Documentation is crucial in ensuring your HACCP system works as planned. It must be validated, monitored on a regular basis, and regularly assessed and reassessed.

These twelve steps ensure that your plan will go according to HACCP system regulations. After all, well thought-out and implemented systems will make your business run smoothly and leave you free to focus on keeping your guests happy.

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