haccp | 9 mins read

How to Ace Food Safety Management With 7 Simple HACCP Steps

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Archita Wagle

By Archita Wagle

What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis (and) Critical Control Point. It is a food management system that ensures food safety. It does this by minimizing contamination risks through the analysis and control of biological chemical physical hazards. The process starts with the production of raw materials, and ends when food is consumed.

HACCP is an important step in food safety management as it deals with prioritizing and controlling microbiological, chemical physical contaminants in food production. HACCP is just one part of food safety management; others include pest control, hygiene and sanitation and traceability.

HACCP is currently the best safety program in the food industry, with proven results in reducing food safety hazards and preventing food-borne illnesses. Pillsbury Company was the first to develop HACCP in the late 1950s to provide safe food for NASA's space program.

Why Should You Have an HACCP Plan?

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A HACCP plan is a safety management system that helps control biological chemical and physical hazards that may arise while storing, transporting, preparing and selling food. The monitoring procedures inherent in this plan also determine critical control points (CCPs). These are steps to stall the growth of microorganisms. A safety plan can help reduce food costs by managing food safety effectively.

Here is a list of reasons every food business needs to have a HACCP food safety plan-

1. Countering food safety problems
The HACCP safety program begins at food production, right through food processing and up until food consumption. The HACCP system also ensures better use of resources and a timely response to problems.

2. Avoiding safety hazards
Food contamination can cause a food business to suffer losses. By following the HACCP system, a business can prevent a decline in food safety quality and avoid biological chemical physical hazards.

3. Compliance with the law
If you are compliant with the United States Food and Drug Administration laws on food safety, and properly follow HACCP principles, you will not only be able to upgrade your food safety measures, but also lower the chance of being penalized for breaking the law.

4. Expand your base
A company can replicate the same HACCP plan across locations. The HACCP system is compatible with safety management measures recommended by quality management systems such as ISO.

After considering the advantages of the HACCP system, here's a list of steps you need to complete before you can develop a HACCP safety plan-

  • Establish a team to understand the product, food safety hazards and critical control points.
  • Before beginning the HACCP hazard analysis, describe the product and record relevant information like the chemical or physical properties of the product, its composition, etc. Also record information about product packaging, transportation and storage.
  • Identify how the product will be used. Will it be consumed directly, or be processed further, or cooked? What is the target group for the product, children or adults?
  • Draw up a detailed commodity flow diagram (a representation of the manufacturing process of the food business) and compare the diagram with a step by step plan to make sure all the relevant information has been considered.

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7 HACCP Guidelines to Remember

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A HACCP food management system has seven principles that can control critical limits in the food processing system to prevent food safety hazards and ensure food safety. The seven HACCP principles are-

1. Carry out hazard analysis
Identify food hazards at your establishment and anticipate what can go wrong during food production.

2. Identify critical control points
A critical control point is the step at which a food safety hazard can be controlled. The team will identify critical control points at different stages of food processing.

3. Establish critical limits
A critical limit can be defined as the value to be set to prevent or reduce the occurrence of a food safety hazard. The critical limit is usually set for cooking temperature, water levels and weights, and is based on established standards.

4. Monitor
critical control points
Set a procedure to monitor the critical limit for each step of the HACCP system. The system lays out the procedure for how the measure will be taken, who will take it, and how often. The monitoring process should have simple, clear and easy steps.

5. Set procedures for corrective actions
A corrective action can be defined as the steps taken to identify safety violations during the production process. List out the steps to be taken to reduce chances of food hazards affecting the production process, and the corrective actions to be taken to correct the violation.

6. Set up verification procedures
Activities like auditing critical control points, reviewing records, checking instrument calibration and product testing will ensure that the HACCP plan that has been set up as part of the food management system is working. Carry out periodic verification checks to see if changes need to be made to the system.

7. Set up proper record keeping system
Maintain a record of the documentation required to operate HACCP-based procedures to prove compliance with the law. Record keeping will depend on the nature and complexity of the business. Records should have information about the HACCP team, hazard analysis, the critical control points, critical limits, monitoring system, and corrective actions.

7 HACCP Steps to Follow

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A haccp food safety plan is based on a scientific approach to food safety management and has to follow basic HACCP principles. With HACCP software like ZipHACCP from
Hubworks, a business can easily implement the HACCP plan and customize the system to its unique requirements to maintain high food safety standards.

Here are 7 steps to implementing a HACCP plan-

1. Review your menu
Once you have identified a list of biological chemical physical food safety hazards, you can review your menu and the food processing steps to identify points where contamination can occur. If you have a food safety software, it can analyze the data and produce the report for you.

2. Highlight problem areas
Once you identify problem areas, you can set up a procedure to establish critical control points to reduce the possibility of contamination.

3. Include critical temperatures
Use the food temperature chart guidelines as the critical limit in your food safety software to establish the time required to prepare a recipe and the temperature at which it should be cooked, stored and served.

4. Check food temperatures periodically
Software like ZipHACCP comes with Bluetooth food thermometer that can be used to track and record food temperature during cooking, storing, handling and serving food.

5. Establish corrective alerts

Program your software to include a list of corrective actions should there be a deviation from the established HACCP procedure. The software can be programmed to issue alerts or generate reports on deviations, and list procedures that will correct the lapse.

6. Generate review reports
Set up the system to generate periodic reports of the HACCP plan. These should include procedures followed, make note of deviations, and list the corrective procedures implemented. A record of inspections and audits should also be included.

7. Keep a record
A software system makes it easy to maintain all the records of a HACCP plan it implementation, upgrades, compliance with the law, time and temperatures, and so on.

Corrective Actions- What, Why, and How

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An important step in the HACCP food management system is the process for corrective action in case of deviation. Corrective actions can be classified into two categories- preventive and immediate.

An immediate corrective action is a reactive action, like throwing out food that is spoilt.
A preventive corrective action is proactive, like changing procedures to improve food safety or food quality. It is vital to have a haccp process in order to create a corrective action plan.

A good corrective action plan should incorporate the following-

  • A system that offers rapid response to deviations from critical limits.
  • A procedure to eliminate or reduce the cause of deviation.
  • Keeps accurate records of the deviation, corrective actions, time and dates.
A good corrective action plan has the following benefits-
  • Walks you through the process.
  • Provides detailed steps for course correction.
  • Adds a layer of transparency to the HACCP plan through corrective actions.
  • Sets a plan for course correction in the future.
Here's a list of procedures to be incorporated into a HACCP plan-
  • Stop the food production process and discard the affected product.
  • Adjust the process to correct the deviation and bring the critical control points under control.
  • Document the deviation and corrective action taken.
  • If required, inform the concerned authorities.
  • Check if there is a need to modify the HACCP plan.

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Food Safety Software- How Does it Work?

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Food safety management software like ZipHACCP from Hubworks helps conduct food quality checks, audits and reviews in real time. It can identify and raise food safety issues and report food safety hazards immediately.

Here's how food safety management software can help your food business-

Compliance with regulations- A good food safety software can ensure that your food safety management is complaint with the Food Safety Modernization Act. It can ensure that you are up to date with any changes in food safety regulations. The software will also make sure food quality is maintained throughout the food production and supply chain.

Real time analysis- Automating food safety protocols will enable a real time audit of the HACCP plan, track deviation and enable corrective action. It will also reduce human error. Automation ensures that your staff will focus on better customer services.

Helps set up preventive corrective action- Because the software can track food processing in real time, staff can step in immediately when a deviation occurs, and prevent it from scaling up.

Ease of access- A software system can be accessed anywhere, anytime. An owner or manager can thus track the food management system without needing to be physically present at the location.

Top 5 Food Safety Software

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After taking a comprehensive look at the importance of incorporating a haccp plan in your food management system, here's a look at the top food safety software available in the market. These can help you implement an effective HACCP plan.

1. ZipHACCP- This task management app by Hubworks can help your business ensure HACCP compliance by issuing real time alerts and providing valuable insights on food management procedures. The app helps maintain food safety standards and standardizes operations.

2. 3iVerify- It is a comprehensive food safety and quality management system that provides HACCP management and plan templates. It also provides tools for quality management, vendor management and food safety.

3. FoodLogiQ- This software provides tools for traceability, food safety compliance, and supply chain transparency. It can be integrated with your existing restaurant management systems.

4. JustFood ERP- The software helps food business companies lower costs, improve food safety and manage HACCP compliance by providing a configurable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that can meet the needs of food processors and distributors.

5. Food Connex- It is comprehensive software specifically created for food processing and distribution. Food Connex helps you track every aspect of an order's lifecycle.

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