food-safety | 6 mins read

How to Secure HACCP Certification for Your Food Business

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Archita Wagle

By Archita Wagle

What is an HACCP Plan?

Food safety and hygiene are important aspects of food processing. They make sure food handled is safe for consumption.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP encompasses a series of crucial steps that help maintain food safety. Following these steps can control potential food safety hazards like microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants in food production. The HACCP system is designed to eliminate or reduce the occurrence of food-borne illness and prevent food adulteration.

A HACCP plan is a food safety management system that identifies and controls biological chemical physical hazards during food manufacturing. It also protects the supply chain by making sure food is stored and transported safely. The management system helps fix and regulate critical control points during food production.


A restaurant business needs a specific food safety or HACCP plan for each food type and processing system, as every food and processing procedure requires a different risk management practice.

What Role Does HACCP Play in Food Safety?

A HACCP management system is used to control potential biological chemical and physical hazards in food production so that the food industry can assure consumers that the foods they eat are safe for consumption. Putting in place a HACCP plan as a safety management system will benefit a business. It helps prevent food-borne illnesses that result from poor hygiene during food production.

The only way to ensure that bacteria produced due to poor hygiene is eliminated and not transferred is to implement a HACCP plan. An effective HACCP plan will-

  • Identify and gauge food hazards via a hazard analysis
  • Identify critical control points
  • Establish critical limits and monitoring procedures
  • Identify corrective actions to control food hazards
  • Maintain records and documentation to verify that the HACCP system is effective

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What is HACCP Certification?

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Once you have a HACCP plan in place, you have to check with your local regulatory authority if you need HACCP certification. HACCP certification is what will validate your HACCP food management system. It checks your documentation based on the seven HACCP principles to see if the plan is being implemented at your restaurant.

To earn a HACCP certificate, you can approach a third party, external certification body. FDA has a list of organizations registered under its Accredited Third Party Certification Program. Once you secure HACCP certification, you will receive a certificate. Following this, you can promote yourself as a HACCP certified organization. HACCP certification is valid for three years, following which you will have to undergo a certification audit again. You may also have to undergo a surveillance audit.

How Can a Food Business Earn HACCP Certification?

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If you have chosen to opt for HACCP certification, you will have to call in a registered external certification body for a HACCP audit of your Food Safety management program. The auditor will work with your business to ensure that there are minimum disruptions to the workflow while carrying out the certification audit.

Here are the steps to carry out an audit for HACCP certification-

  • Have a complete HACCP plan before the audit starts.
  • Work together with the auditor to choose a HACCP team.
  • The auditor will check your HACCP plan documents and confirm your HACCP team.


Auditor commences Stage 1 where they check the overall preparedness for the certification process. They will refer to HACCP principles to check your safety management process, and see which parts adhere to the standards and which are areas of concern.

Stage 2 of the audit process will be an in-depth evaluation of the HACCP plan to check how your management system performs against documented standards.
Once the evaluation is complete, the auditor will deliver a verbal report of problems that need to be addressed, their recommendations; and follow-up tasks. Once these tasks are complete, you will receive HACCP certification.

HACCP audit takes upto five days, so make sure that the management system complies with your HACCP plan. Once the certification audit is done, there will be a surveillance audit in the three year validity period.


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What Happens if Your Restaurant Fails the HACCP Audit?

There is a chance that an organisation may fail a HACCP audit. If the HACCP audit fails, it represents a breakdown of the compliance system and should be taken seriously.

A HACCP food safety audit can fail due to following reasons-

  • Failing to implement HACCP management systems properly- The HACCP plan can fail when proper preventative measures are not observed. This includes improper labeling, packaging and storage. It could also result from incorrect employee training or faulty pest control.
  • Lack of supplier controls- You may have ensured that you have put in place good manufacturing practices but if you have not maintained high quality supplier controls, you can fail the HACCP audit.
  • Poor record keeping- Failure to maintain proper records and documentation will hinder successful completion of the HACCP audit.
  • Lack of commitment- An audit failure of your Food Safety control measures may also show a lack of commitment by senior management.


If an organization fails a HACCP audit, it can have far-reaching impact in these areas-

Financial Cost- If an organization has to reschedule an audit, it can disrupt daily operations and create an additional financial burden. It can also lead to a recall of products.
Loss of reputation- A failed audit can lead to loss of consumer trust in the company. This can lead to a public relations nightmare and heavy financial losses.

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Benefits of HACCP Certification

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As an organization, you may wonder if it's worth securing HACCP certification. It is! This is how the certification will supplement your Food Safetymanagement system-

Gaining certification for your HACCP plan will ensure less time is spent probing food safety breaches, as control points for manufacturing practices have already been put into place.
HACCP certification increases customers' trust in the brand and helps increase customer satisfaction when their orders consistently meet expectations.
HACCP certificate is a globally recognized validation. It pegs you as as a reputable business and establishes your credentials by a globally recognized industry standard.
HACCP certification helps an organization win more business, as certification opens news doors.

HACCP System FAQS

1. Is HACCP certification must?
Getting HACCP certification depends on the type of business you have and where it is located. The United States Food Drug Administration makes it mandatory for juice and seafood products to use a HACCP system, but has a voluntary HACCP alternative program for dairy products. Sometimes the regulator may ask for a HACCP plan, but not HACCP certification.

2. What is HACCP alliance?
The International HACCP Alliance was established in 1994 to provide a uniform program for safer meat and poultry products. It offers information and training courses, such as food safety training and HACCP training.

3. Cost of a HACCP audit?
The cost to audit your Food Safety program will depend on the certification body you choose and the location and size of your business. The average cost per day is between $400 to $3,000 USD.

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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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