haccp process | 7 mins read

How Can HACCP Software Help Implement the HACCP Process at a Restaurant?

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Sanchari Chatterjee

By Sanchari Chatterjee

What is the HACCP Process?

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety plan is a system for the prevention of foodborne illness. It helps to ensure that all food manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have an effective, preventive control plan. The HACCP process includes identifying hazards, developing control measures, analyzing critical points in production and distribution process steps, reviewing monitoring plans and corrective actions. The HACCP system is also used by restaurants serving potentially hazardous foods to ensure employees know how to prevent contamination of food with pests or vermin or other potential hazards.

Thus, the HACCP process is managing and meeting the food safety requirements as laid down by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). There are seven principles to develop a HACCP plan to meet the food safety goals and if any deviation is detected, the system will prompt the business administration to take corrective actions, thus helping in food safety compliance.

  • According to Restaurant Dive, restaurant owners across the industry incurred losses of $240 billion due to the pandemic in 2020.
  • In 2020, 50% of the limited-service restaurants became distressed due to changes in consumer behaviour, said a report by AlixPartners.

Why is the HACCP System Central to Food Safety?

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  • The HACCP system is internationally recognized as a benchmark of food safety compliance. When a business tries to expand its global footprint, it would enjoy greater brand value and trust among its target audience if it follows the HACCP system.
  • Having a HACCP plan can save your business a lot of money in the long run that you otherwise have to pay in penalties, compensations etc for risking safety while in the food service industry.
  • As a food service business, you would not want to end up poisoning your customers. Having a HACCP system in place will make sure you stay clear of this problem.
  • The guidelines enforced by the HACCP plan will ensure you have high food safety standards at your establishment. Also, the quality of your food offerings will improve with this, which will eventually benefit your brand, revenue and profits.
  • When creating a HACCP plan and a dedicated HACCP team, you will end up with a highly organized system of safe food production at your establishment.

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What are the Seven Principles of the HACCP System?

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FDA defines the haccp system as an organized approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards based on seven principles. These are-

1. Hazard analysis- The first of the HACCP principles is conducting a hazard analysis. This is where food industry establishments do a risk assessment and identify the steps and processes that may become food safety hazards. Next, you identify the potential hazards that can be prevented or controlled with an effective HACCP plan.

2. Critical control points (CCPs)- Next is determining the critical control points, which are the steps, procedures and points where the food making process faces the maximum risk. CCPs can be anything such as the cooking temperatures, packaging, storing or even serving.

3. Critical limits- Establishing critical limits (CLs) is third among the crucial HACCP principles. This is determining the maximum and minimum limits to which the chemical, biological and physical measures need to be controlled to eliminate food safety hazards.

4- Monitoring procedures- Next is establishing monitoring procedures for the CCPs and CLs be it observational monitoring, physical monitoring such as temperature checks or biological chemical monitoring for nutritional values.

5- Corrective actions- The fifth step of principles of HACCP is establishing corrective actions in case of a deviation in the critical limits. The corrective actions must be able to reverse the glitch or prevent it from happening in the future.

6- Verification procedures- When all this is done, you need to establish verification procedures to ensure the HACCP plan is working properly, giving the desired results. This can be done by reviewing records, auditing the CCPs, testing the finished food items.

7- Record-keeping and documentation procedures- The final step is to maintain records of all the procedures followed in the HACCP plan. These records must include all minute details for future reference, law enforcement agencies etc.

Limitations of Manual Food Safety Management Methods

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The HACCP system only came into force in the US in the 1970s and required restaurants and food industry businesses to have proper Food Safety plans in place. In order to help restaurants with the application of HACCP, B2B companies have come up with a number of software solutions. However, before that, there were only manual, unmeasurable methods of ensuring food safety and they had their disadvantages.

1. Without proper guidelines for food temperatures for specific kinds of food items such as meat, vegetables, bakery items etc, kitchens were forced to cook and reheat to prevent them from getting spoiled.

2. Digitally measuring the food's internal temperatures to get the right temperature that can kill the harmful bacteria were also not an option in the manual methods. Chefs would have to rely on their skills and knowledge and eyeball the cooking stages to gauge the progression.

3. While the HACCP system streamlines the process of food safety management, in the manual methods, restaurant managers and chefs would have to manage all the procedures and documentation by themselves, which put an additional burden on the labor force.

Advantages of Managing With a HACCP System

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1. The HACCP systems are easy to follow when you prepare the plan according to the seven principles and go with a flow diagram for the restaurant staff to follow at each stage.

2. When implementing a HACCP plan, you do not have to worry about violating a Health Department rule or falling short of compliance. The HACCP system will immediately issue alerts in case of a deviation from the critical limits and critical control points.

3. There will be a set of pre-decided monitoring procedures to guide you through the HACCP system and you would not have to do guesswork with the critically important food safety norms.

When you declare your restaurant or food service establishment as a HACCP-compliant business, you will not only gain your customer's trust but also build on your brand and market value.

5. You also do not have to worry about the verification procedures and documentation requirements of food safety compliances as the HACCP software will take care of it. The software will take down all the records for future use, reference or production before the law enforcement agencies.

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5 Top HACCP Software Management Systems

1. Zip HACCP- This is a food safety software offered by restaurant back office solutions provider Hubworks that is rated by reviewers and users as among the best HACCP systems. You get constant tracking tools to ensure your business complies with the food safety rules and with the convenience of doing this on a mobile device with the Zip HACCP app. You can create and customize checklists for auditing or devising a HACCP plan, monitor food temperatures remotely, use Zip's Bluetooth food thermometer and also generate real-time reports and analytics on food safety compliances.

2. SynergySuite- This is a restaurant management software that offers tools such as inventory management, HACCP system and also employee scheduling tools. The HACCP system helps users conduct hazard analysis, corrective actions, automatic HACCP documentation and temperature check reminders.

3. Safefood360- Safefood 360 is a food safety management software that helps restaurants and food service businesses build their own HACCP plans and also manage suppliers, employee training, pest control, monitoring procedures etc.

4. HACCP Now- This HACCP system assists restaurant businesses to abide by the food safety rules set by the food authorities. This system oversees the entire operations to make sure all control limits and critical control points are in place and their are corrective actions in case of violations.

5. Effivity- Effivity is a user-friendly, automated HACCP compliance and food safety system. It offers customizable HACCP plans, automation of business management, detailed and accurate compliance with the mandated food safety standards and also keeps records of all the HACCP processes followed.

Food Safety FAQs

Q1- What is the law against selling contaminated food?
A- The Food Safety Act 1990 clearly states it is an offence to sell food products that are not compliant with the food safety rules. And such foods could be anything that is damaging to health, is unfit for human consumption or is contaminated and thus is inedible.

Q2- What does the 'use by' date on food items mean?
A- A 'use by' date is usually put on the food labels of highly perishable products such as milk, dairy products, bread etc. It is illegal to serve food that have gone beyond the 'use by' date.

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