How To Write a HACCP Plan Step by Step

How to Write a HACCP Plan? A Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

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It is essential to have a HACCP strategy if you are in a food business. It’s crucial to know how to write a HACCP plan for making sure that your food items are safe and reduce the possibility of biological, chemical, and physical risks.

To monitor the entire food system—from production to consumption—and to avoid foodborne illnesses, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is used. It will allow you to smartly set up effective control points that will make everyday tasks much easier.

So, let’s dive into the world of HACCP and get familiar with its brilliant forms.

Understanding HACCP Principles:

Specific guidelines are set that food businesses must adhere to in order to comply with the HACCP plan regulations and HACCP plan requirements.

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) consists of seven basic principles. These principles make way for a fruitful implementation and are stated below:

  1. Efficiently analyzing any potential hazards to eliminate possible risks.
  2. Establishing Critical Control Points (CCPs).
  3. Setting specific Critical limits for the set CCPs.
  4. Regularly monitoring the identified CCPs to maintain control.
  5. Implementing corrective actions promptly if any CCP goes out of control.
  6. Verifying the effectiveness of the implemented CCPs.
  7. Maintaining updated documents and records.

Therefore, food safety management is the utmost priority of all food businesses owners. This involves implementing the principles of HACCP, which take a proactive approach by identifying potential risks at each stage of the food production process and implementing necessary controls to prevent any issues from arising.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a HACCP Plan:

Now, we’ll look at how to write a HACCP Plan using the HACCP Plan steps in more detail below:

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a HACCP Plan

1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis:

Principle 1 of the HACCP Plan requirements emphasizes the importance of conducting a meticulous hazard analysis. Just like conducting a risk assessment, this crucial step involves examining all the procedures and processes within a business that could potentially jeopardize food products and, consequently, harm consumers. The analysis encompasses a comprehensive evaluation of physical, chemical, allergenic, and microbial hazards present in the food production process.

Once it identifies and lists all the hazards, it proceeds to grade them based on their likelihood of occurrence and the severity of their potential consequences, integrating the businesses to gain insights into the risks posed by each hazard and can prioritize their control measures accordingly.

2. Determine Critical Control Points:

Principle 2 of HACCP revolves around identifying the crucial stages within food handling processes, which necessitates HACCP Plan implementation. These critical control points (CCPs) represent the final opportunities to intervene and effectively mitigate or diminish hazards to an acceptable level.

Distinguishing themselves from Control Points (CPs) that enable control over physical, chemical, or microbial hazards throughout the food flow, CCPs demand utmost attention. Failing to maintain control at a CCP would result in an unacceptably high level of risk, unless appropriate measures, such as the HACCP Plan implementation, are promptly applied to eliminate or minimize the hazard.

Several instances serve as examples of critical control points, such as:

  • The point at which the attainment of a specific temperature is crucial for ensuring food safety, as observed in the process of pasteurization.
  • The stage where an extended cooling time for a food product increases the likelihood of pathogenic bacteria growth.
  • A critical juncture where there exists a potential risk of allergen contamination in food.

3. Establishing Critical Limits:

Principle 3 of HACCP Plan guidelines focus on the establishment of critical limits. Critical limits refer to the maximum or minimum values assigned to a control measure at a Critical Control Point (CCP) to effectively mitigate, eliminate, or minimize hazards to an acceptable level.

To define these critical limits, specific criteria must be set to determine the point at which a product transitions from being safe to potentially unsafe. These criteria encompass various aspects, such as physical, chemical, and procedural factors, including but not limited to:

  • pH values.
  • Salt content.
  • Sugar content.
  • Temperatures.

4. Implementing monitoring procedures:

In accordance with the HACCP plan requirements, Principle 4 emphasizes the necessity for a food safety system to establish a method for assessing the control status of CCPs (Critical Control Points) and critical limits. To achieve this objective, consistent and ongoing monitoring is essential.

Continuous monitoring of CCPs is indispensable to promptly identify any potential loss of control, detect deviations from established standards, and ensure that appropriate corrective actions are implemented whenever required. By adhering to these monitoring practices, the food safety system can effectively maintain control over critical points and mitigate risks associated with food safety hazards.

5. Establishing corrective actions:

Principle 5 of the HACCP Plan template focuses on establishing corrective actions, which refer to any necessary steps to be taken when the monitoring of a Critical Control Point (CCP) indicates a breach of a critical limit.

The objective of implementing corrective actions is threefold, aiming to:

  1. Ensure the safety of the product.
  2. Prevent the recurrence of the issue.
  3. Maintain a well-documented chain of records for audit purposes.

A typical HACCP plan template consists of three levels of corrective actions that are necessary to be practiced:

  • Immediate action: This involves taking swift measures to regain control over the process.
  • Short-term action: Here, the focus is on identifying and managing the affected product by placing it under proper control.
  • Long-term action: This level of action entails investigating the root cause of the problem and implementing preventive measures to avoid its recurrence in the future.

6. Establish Verification procedures:

In accordance with HACCP Plan regulations, Principle 6 emphasizes the establishment of verification procedures to ensure the effectiveness of the food safety management system. Regular reviews of the HACCP system are conducted to confirm its efficiency. These reviews encompass internal audits, as well as validation and verification procedures.

Validation involves gathering evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the HACCP plan, particularly at critical control points and critical limits. It serves to substantiate that the HACCP system can adequately control the identified hazards.

Verification and internal auditing assess the overall HACCP system rather than individual activities. Verification aims to validate the proper functioning of each component of the HACCP system, aligning with the HACCP plan, and ensuring its up-to-date status.

7. Establish Documentation:

Accurate record-keeping throughout all stages of the food safety system is a crucial aspect of Principle 7 in the HACCP Plan steps. This documentation plays a vital role in verifying the effectiveness of the implemented controls.

Various types of documentation contribute to the support of a HACCP plan, including:

Hazard analysis details.

  1. Determination of Critical Control Points (CCPs).
  2. Training records.
  3. Procedures encompassing corrective actions, glass breakage, and standard operating procedures.
  4. Cleaning schedules.
  5. Reports on pest control.
  6. Supplier documentation, such as lists, specifications, and audit records.
  7. Records of CCP monitoring, including deviations and corrective actions, modifications to the HACCP plan, visual inspection reports, and daily checks like temperature monitoring.

Maintaining accurate documentation is crucial not only for the effective implementation of the HACCP plan in the food industry but also as part of a due diligence defense if ever required. Thus, it is essential to consistently update and uphold information, documentation, and available resources.

HACCP Plan Examples:

As we’ve covered major HACCP plan steps involved in how to write a HACCP Plan, now we’ll discuss its practical examples:

Here are HACCP Plan examples for a restaurant to help you understand the application of the steps:

Step 1: Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Identify the potential hazards associated with the restaurant’s food operations, such as biological, chemical, or physical hazards. For example:

Biological hazard: Cross-contamination of raw and cooked food leads to foodborne illnesses.

Chemical hazard: Contamination of food with cleaning agents or food additives beyond permissible limits.

Physical hazard: Presence of foreign objects in food due to improper handling or storage.

Step 2: Identify Critical Control Points (CCPs)

Determine the critical control points in the restaurant’s food handling processes where control measures can be applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the identified hazards. Examples of CCPs could be:

  • Receiving raw ingredients
  • Storage of perishable food
  • Cooking or heat treatment
  • Cooling and storage of cooked food
  • Cross-contamination prevention during food preparation
  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures

Step 3: Establish Critical Limits:

Set specific criteria for each CCP to ensure that the hazards are controlled. For instance:

  • Receiving raw ingredients: Check for proper temperature, packaging integrity, and expiry dates.
  • Cooking or heat treatment: Ensure internal temperature reaches the required safe level (e.g., 165°F/74°C for poultry).
  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures: Verify that surfaces are cleaned and sanitized using approved methods and chemicals.

Step 4: Implement Monitoring Procedures:

Put in place procedures to monitor and track the critical control points and critical limits. For example:

  • Receiving raw ingredients: Use temperature loggers to record and verify temperatures upon arrival.
  • Cooking or heat treatment: Regularly use calibrated thermometers to check the internal temperature of cooked food.
  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures: Conduct visual inspections and ATP testing to ensure proper cleanliness.

Step 5: Establish Corrective Actions:

Define the actions to be taken if monitoring reveals that a critical limit has been exceeded or a deviation has occurred. For instance:

  • Receiving raw ingredients: Reject or return any ingredients that are not within the specified temperature range or have signs of spoilage.
  • Cooking or heat treatment: Cook the food for a longer period or at a higher temperature to achieve the required safety level.
  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures: Investigate the cause of inadequate cleanliness, retrain staff if necessary, and re-clean the affected areas.

Step 6: Set up Verification Procedures:

Create procedures to verify that the HACCP plan is being implemented effectively and that hazards are being controlled. Examples include:

  • Regular audits of the HACCP plan by internal or external food safety experts.
  • Sampling and testing of food products to ensure compliance with safety standards.
  • Periodic review and update of the HACCP plan based on new hazards or changes in processes.

Step 7: Establish Record-Keeping and Documentation:

Maintain records and documentation to demonstrate the implementation and effectiveness of the HACCP plan. This may include:

  • Temperature logs for receiving and storage areas.
  • Cooking and cooling temperature records.
  • Cleaning and sanitation logs.
  • Corrective action reports.
  • Verification and audit reports.

By following these seven steps, the restaurant can effectively identify and control potential hazards to ensure the safety of its food products and prevent foodborne illnesses.

Common Challenges and Tips:

Implementing a HACCP plan in the food industry can pose several challenges. These challenges may include:

  • Lack of knowledge or training among staff.
  • Insufficient resources or support.
  • Lack of commitment or communication from management.
  • Need for flexibility and adaptation within the HACCP plan.

To address these challenges and ensure the successful implementation of HACCP, it is crucial to prioritize competence and involvement among staff. This can be achieved by providing them with adequate training and guidance on HACCP principles and procedures. Additionally, allocating and prioritizing resources appropriately is essential. If needed, seeking external support or assistance can also be beneficial.

Establishing clear roles and responsibilities within the organization, as well as effectively communicating goals and expectations, can enhance commitment and motivation among employees. Recognizing and rewarding good performance and compliance can further foster a positive HACCP culture within the business.

Regularly reviewing and updating the HACCP plan is vital to ensure its ongoing suitability for all products, processes, and situations. This includes making any necessary changes or adjustments to address emerging risks or improve the effectiveness of the plan. By staying proactive and adaptive, businesses can maintain a robust HACCP system that safeguards food safety and meets regulatory requirements.

Importance of Regular Training and Documentation:

One of the key principles and the HACCP plan benefits is the consistent training of staff and the meticulous documentation of the HACCP system. The regular training of staff ensures that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to implement the HACCP controls effectively. Concurrently, the systematic documentation of the HACCP system is vital for ensuring its successful implementation and compliance with food safety regulations.

Documentation also enables businesses to maintain comprehensive and accurate records, which are indispensable for effective monitoring and evaluation of the HACCP controls. These records serve as evidence of compliance with food safety requirements and provide a reliable means of tracking the implementation and maintenance of the HACCP system.

EcoDocs: Streamlining HACCP Documentation and Planning for food safety:

Ecodocs is a digital food safety and compliance management software that plays a crucial role in facilitating the process of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) documentation and planning.

Key Features:

Documentation Management:

  • Centralized platform for managing HACCP documents
  • Create, store, and organize plans, procedures, and records

HACCP Plan Creation:

  • Templates and guidance for developing customized HACCP plans
  • Identify hazards, critical control points, and control measures

Workflow and Task Management:

  • Assign responsibilities, set deadlines, and track progress
  • Ensure monitoring, verification, and corrective actions are carried out

Compliance Monitoring and Auditing:

  • Monitor compliance with HACCP requirements
  • Schedule inspections, conduct internal audits, and address non-conformities


All-in-all, when you’re in a food business, food safety is your best friend. And in order to ensure it, HACCP plan is your go-to solution. By getting familiar with this article and the steps stated therein, you’ll know all about the HACCP plan requirements and how it holds the very foundation of the success of your business.


– What are the regulatory requirements for a HACCP plan?

The HACCP plan requirements include:

  • Hazard analysis
  • CCP identification
  • Establishing critical limits
  • Monitoring procedures
  • Corrective actions
  • Verification procedures
  • Record-keeping and documentation

– How often should a HACCP plan be reviewed and updated?

Once implemented, a HACCP plan should be reviewed at least once a year to adjust to newer requirements, especially in cases of changes in production.

– What are the consequences of not having a HACCP plan in place?

The following might appear as a result of not having a HACCP plan in place:

  • Increased contamination of food
  • More food spoilage
  • Constant scrutiny by regulatory agencies
  • Low quality food products
  • Increased chances of foodborne illnesses
  • Loss of customer trust

– What industries or businesses require a HACCP plan?

All businesses prevailing in the food industry should have a HACCP plan in place; be it growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, and merchandising to prepare food for consumption.

– What are critical control points (CCPs) in a HACCP plan, and how are they identified?

  • Receiving raw ingredients
  • Storage of perishable food
  • Cooking or heat treatment
  • Cooling and storage of cooked food
  • Cross-contamination prevention during food preparation
  • Cleaning and sanitation procedures

About Folio3 AgTech Practice

Folio3 is a Silicon Valley based Digital Transformation partner for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies with a special focus on digitization of Agriculture, Production and Companion Animal industry. Having worked with some of the world’s leading animal health companies, cattle associations, cow-calf operators, cattle feeders, beef processors and beef marketing companies, we have the design and development expertise required to help you digitize your manual procedures and practices, whether you’re a farm or a ranch owner, veterinarian, feedlot manager, nutritionist, or processing plant owner, we have got you covered.

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