What is HACCP, and Why do we use it?
HACCP is an acronym for Hazard Analysis and Critical Point Control. This is an internationally recognized standard system that is used to reduce the risks associated with food safety hazards. HACCP systems require that all potential hazards in the food supply chains are managed at specific critical points where it is highly probable that hazards occur. The different types of hazards include chemical, biological, chemical, and physical hazards.
Food companies that are involved in the processing, manufacturing, or handling of food products need to make sure that they follow the HACCP plan. With the increase in the awareness of the rising foodborne illnesses, concern throughout the industry has been increasing, which means that the demand for businesses to have HACCP-based certifications with them in order to operate and satisfy the food safety requirements of the customers.
What does HACCP mean in food safety?
The meaning of HACCP with respect to food safety is that all food safety hazards are removed. Food safety hazards are external agents that are found in the food supply chains. These external agents cause contamination of the food materials, which can result in foodborne illnesses or loss of life.
The contamination hazards can occur at any step of the supply chain for the food. These include packaging, transportation, food serving, raw material harvesting, food delivery, and food storage.
There are multiple food safety hazards that can easily initiate foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. These 4 distinct categories of food safety hazards are Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Allergenic. The potential damage that these hazards can cause can significantly or mildly affect the health of those who consume these. The level of contamination of the food also affects the level of the outbreak of foodborne illnesses.
What are the 7 HACCP principles?
HACCP is based on 7 major principles that need to be followed in sequential order.
Conduct Hazard Analysis
In this step, the food company must evaluate their processes and also identify where the hazards have a chance of being exposed to the foods. These hazards can have four types, as discussed. The organization must make sure that there is no physical hazard such as machine parts, chemical hazards which can enter via cleaning and sanitization products, toxins that can contaminate the food, and biological hazards like viruses and bacteria that can contaminate the food.
The identification can be done in two major steps. First, identify the hazards that exist and then evaluate these discovered hazards. The evaluation will determine the degree of risk to the business from the identified hazard. After identification and evaluation, the critical control points need to be identified as well. These are the critical points where the hazards need to be controlled, or else the business may face a greater risk of contamination.
Identify the control points
These are the steps in the processes that can help in the elimination or prevention of the hazards that have been identified in the previous steps. The critical control points will help us identify the preventive measures for the operations. These prevent hazards by following outlines such as controlled pH levels, certain temperature ranges, and what procedures to follow.
Establish the critical limits for procedures
The next step is to establish criteria for all of the individual critical control points. The criteria must be drafted to control the type of hazard at the control point. It could be a safe minimum temperature, a safe cooking temperature, and the establishment of regulatory limits that must be met in order to make sure there is no hazard to the food. Here salt levels, chlorine levels, pH levels, and safe temperature range, can be finalized and then ensured that these limits are not transgressed. If this limit is exceeded, then it is a must to take corrective action and control the product distribution.
Establish the monitoring actions
Here the organization must ponder what it is that has to be measured and how they can measure it. The complete process for the food business they are involved in must be handled alongside record-keeping that ensures that all critical limits are being met. They must decide if they can provide continuous monitoring. If not, how often do they that measurements that can help ensure that the process is under their control and exceeds no limits? The monitoring actions at the critical points are necessary for the effectiveness of the HACCP plan.
Outline corrective actions
The business will also need to outline the actions that will be needed in case the critical limits are not met or suddenly breached due to uncontrolled activity. These corrective actions need to be identified ahead of the critical control points. This action must be taken to make sure that there is no release of any unsafe product in the market for the public. There must be a complete process evaluation that will help determine the true cause of the problems and also outline the elimination strategy for the cause.
The corrective actions serve two purposes, identification of a hazard, elimination and the prevention of the situation from occurring again, and making sure that the nonconforming products that suffer a loss of control can be controlled effectively. As the corrective actions are identified prior to the situation of loss of control, the organization will be prepared completely to take action swiftly in case of any uncontrolled event.
Establish record-keeping for the processes
Here the business must determine what information is needed to analyze that the critical limits are consistently being met, and to ensure that the system is within the control of the organization. The regulatory requirements must also be addressed, and these include the records from the development of the HACCP system up to the complete implementation of the system.
Establish the procedures for verification
The HACCP plan must also be validated once the plan is implemented and is in place. The validation makes sure that the HACCP plan effectively prevents the identified hazards for the business operations. The end product can be tested to verify that the controls are all working as planned. The company must make sure whether the monitoring and measuring equipment works well as is in control, what do the corrective actions show if applied, are all the records are being maintained as outlined by the requirements?
The global food safety initiative has benchmarked several food safety management systems certificate programs that are all HACCP based. This shows the importance of the need for FSMS. These systems reach beyond the HACCP plans as they also incorporate management system principles that are quite similar to the guideline standards that are found in ISO 9001. It will reach beyond the control systems that have been discussed previously and also make sure that the quality of work in the organization is up to international standards.
How can AgTech Folio3 help with the HACCP Food safety management system?
Folio3 can provide the organizations with multiple food safety management systems that can help the organizations with the implementation of fully functional HACCP plans. Folio3 has certain specialized features in our HACCP software for food safety management systems, such as:
- A completely functional, 24/7 record-keeping system that feeds data into the storage databases while simultaneously removing any human error factor and making the process automated.
- The establishment of critical control points that will outline the acceptable critical limits that have been defined.
- A verification program for the HACCP process that can make sure that the company processes are in HACCP compliant throughout.
- Provide a customized flow for the operations that will be tailored to your company’s operations.
- The establishment of a corrective plan of actions. These can be followed in the case of a critical limit being breached or product becoming contaminated. The affected foods will be traced and identified to be removed safely.
- The 24/7 monitoring of critical control points of the processes.
Why are the 7 principles of HACCP important?
The HACCP audits are important as they help the organization neutralize the food safety hazards once they are identified. This works on a HACCP system that has defined control limits. Each of the limits that are defined eventually link up to critical points that are actively followed in the stages of production, storage, or transportation of the food supplies. For the food businesses, why the implementation of the HACCP principles is important. These include:
- Giving the business a good reputation as HACCP compliance makes sure that the end product is of high quality and also that it has been produced from a well-defined and safe process.
- Meeting the conditions for businesses as some businesses require HACCP certifications in order to operate effectively. If businesses don’t follow the HACCP plans, it is quite possible that they cannot operate in some countries or can’t do business with other businesses.
- Several businesses want to make sure that their product complies with safety needs as part of customer satisfaction. Thus, they ensure that their food products are safe for consumption. They require relevant certifications to satisfy the stakeholders, employees, governments, and customers.
What are the 4 types of hazards?
There are several food safety hazards that can provoke foodborne illnesses. In general, the multiple reasons have been categorized into 4 distinct and major categories. Each category includes multiple methods that can affect food quality. The 4 major food safety hazards are Chemical, Physical, Biological, and Allergenic.
- Examples of physical hazards are hair, metal parts of machines, and bones in the food.
- Examples of chemical contaminants are chemical remnants of pesticides, herbicides, on the ingredients, disinfectants, or cleaning remnants coming into contact with raw materials.
- Examples of biological hazards are uncooked meat that can have pathogens such as salmonella, or insufficient chilling freezers that cause food to rot quicker than expected.
- Examples of allergenic hazards are allergies of end consumers such as but allergies, or gluten allergies. These need to be catered to by informing the customers so that they don’t consume them to have dangerous chemical reactions in the body.