food-safety | 6 mins read

The Seven Principles of HACCP to Help You Build a Safe and Sustainable Kitchen

the seven principles of haccp to help you build a safe and sustainable kitchen 1650888799 2339
Sanchari Chatterjee

By Sanchari Chatterjee

The Importance of Having a HACCP Plan

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is the process of checking and ensuring all food safety parameters are followed at every stage of food preparation that is meant for public consumption. HACCP was first devised as a food safety plan for space flights in the 1960s. The HACCP system has since been recognized as an effective tool to adapt traditional food inspection methods to modern food safety control measures. After the United States, HACCP is now internationally recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which have come up with a set of food safety guidelines for nations to follow.

So why is it so important to have a HACCP plan? When you are in the restaurant business, you are dealing with thousands of customers. You would not want to be the source of a deadly virus or bacteria outbreak or create safety hazards for someone who is allergic to certain products. This will not only create a health crisis for your consumers, but also harm your business reputation and incur heavy penalties. With a HACCP plan in place, you will make sure that your business is following all the necessary food production safety practices and nothing is at risk.

7 HACCP Principles- No. 1 Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Firstly, form a dedicated HACCP team that will make sure your restaurant is following all the safety procedures to the T. Next comes hazard analysis. This is the first step of the HACCP system where you do a Hazard Analysis to identify potential risks. Hazards can be of three kinds physical such as metal or plastic contamination, biological such as bacteria or virus contamination, and chemical such from disinfectants and cleaners.

These contaminants may cause consumers to fall ill or cause them injury if there are no checks and balances. Thus, make sure every item that is being used in the kitchen, from utensils to raw ingredients and appliances, all goes through thorough hazard analysis. Each food production step as well needs to go through hazard analysis. Then prepare a list of all the potential safety hazards in each step.

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No. 2 Determine Critical Control Points

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You are now aware of the potential hazards you must keep an eye on. The next step is to identify the Critical Control Points (CCP) in your food production system. Critical Control Points are where you can get rid of hazards or reduce their risk to an acceptable level.

CCPs can monitor any biological chemical or physical hazard. Some examples of Critical Control Points are chemical residue in ingredients, food temperature levels, pH levels, and testing for metal contamination. You need to carefully establish your Critical Control Points as a great deal of damage and food safety risks can be eliminated at this stage if done right.

No. 3 Establish Critical Limits

The third step is to establish the Critical Limits of the control points you have just identified in the previous step. Critical Limits are the maximum and minimum limits of the biological chemical and physical Food Safety hazards. At this stage, your HACCP team has to identify if a potential hazard of any kind exceeds the acceptable level of risk.

The Control Points determine whether the CCPs are operating at a safe and acceptable level or have breached a limit to put your food safety standards at risk. Some examples of Critical Points include the cooking temperatures of meat, fish and egg dishes, or the pH levels that need to be maintained when storing certain food products.

No. 4 Establish Monitoring Procedures

After you are done establishing the Critical Control Points and their Critical Limits, the next step in the HACCP Management System is to prepare a robust monitoring procedure. The Critical Control Points need constant monitoring and observation to make sure they are at acceptable levels. This is where you need to have a detailed monitoring procedure that will also take care of record keeping for further verification.

If continuous monitoring is not possible, make sure you have at least one staff member dedicatedly checking on the control points and the critical limits at regular intervals. This will help you take corrective action if needed and prevent safety hazards. For example, if you are cooling your meat stocks, check the refrigerator with a thermometer to make sure it's at the right temperature. And keep monitoring the temperature on a regular basis.

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No. 5 Establish Corrective Actions

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The above steps of establishing critical limits, control points and monitoring will help you prevent most potential hazards. However, problems can still occur at any point and you need to know what corrective actions can solve the issue. If the critical limit is exceeded at any of the control points, your team cannot be scrambling for ways to stop the risk, they must immediately know what to do.

Get your HACCP team to determine what corrective actions can be taken to avoid any biological chemical or physical safety hazards. These measures must be able to immediately solve a problem and prevent it from happening again. For example, if you have established a control limit of refrigerating food for 2-4 hours, but for some reason this limit has been breached, your corrective action will be to throw out food that has been refrigerated for over 5 hours.

No. 6 Establish Verification Procedures

This is the stage where you check if your HACCP plan is working like a well-oiled machine and isn't running into roadblocks of any kind. The HACCP system must be able to identify potential hazards, generate alerts if any critical limit is breached and prevent safety hazards during the food production stages. Also, make sure your HACCP food plan is based on science and technological know-how and not guesswork.

If you are still unsure about the efficiency of your HACCP plan, take help from outside and assign the job to food safety experts. Also, perform regular checks of the HACCP plan to see if it is working well, bringing you the desired results.

No. 7 Establish Record Keeping and Documentation Process

The last and seventh step in the HACCP system is to maintain detailed records and documentation at each stage, note down the occurrence of safety hazards and corrective actions taken. The documentation of your HACCP food safety management system must include the following-

  • Detailed documentation of your HACCP plan. Records of all utensils, raw and processed ingredients, kitchen appliances and other products used for food production.
  • Details of your HACCP team that will perform the monitoring, verification and corrective procedures.
  • A detailed summary of the hazard analysis you conducted at the first stage.
  • A verified flow diagram of the entire HACCP plan.
  • All the steps of your HACCP plan in detail.
  • All the details of your record keeping process and supporting validation papers.

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