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HACCP is a food safety system designed to identify and control hazards * that may occur in the food production process. The HACCP approach focuses on preventing potential problems that are critical to food safety known as 'critical control points' (CCP) through monitoring and controlling each step of the process. HACCP applies science-based controls from raw materials to finished product. It uses seven principles standardized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Principle 1. Conduct a hazard analysis to identify hazards associated with the food and measures to control those hazards. Hazards could be biological (ex: pathogens); chemical (ex: toxins); or physical (ex: metal fragments).
Principle 2. Identify the critical control points (CCPs). These are points of the process at which the hazard can be controlled or eliminated (ex: cooking).
Principle 3. Establish critical limits for each CCP. A critical limit is the criterion that should be met to ensure food safety in a product (ex: minimum cooking temperature and time to ensure elimination of harmful bacteria).
Principle 4. Establish CCP monitoring procedures to ensure each CCP stays within its critical limits. Monitoring involves a series of observations or measurements to determine if the CCP is under control (ex: determine who and how temperature and time will be monitored during cooking).
Principle 5. Establish corrective actions if the CCP is not within the established limits. By applying corrective actions, the control of hazards is regained (ex: reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking time and temperature are not met).
Principle 6. Establish verification procedures to confirm that the HACCP plan is operating effectively and accordingly to written procedures. This verification may include reviewing HACCP plans, CCP records, microbial sampling (ex: testing time and temperature recording devices to verify that are calibrated and working properly).
Principle 7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures that demonstrate that HACCP is working properly. This includes monitoring documentation, actions taken to correct a potential problem, validation documents (ex: scientific information that supports the use of specific time and temperature for cooking).
In the past few years the food industry has faced new challenges such as the increasing number of emerging pathogenic bacteria (ex: E. coli 0157:H7), increasing public concern on chemical contamination of food (ex: lead in food, allergens). HACCP prevents and controls these and other major food safety concerns on the process; minimizing food safety risks on the product. HACCP allows food producers to offer a safer product to the consumers, protecting their health and life.
Although the main goal of HACCP is food protection, there are other benefits acquired through HACCP implementation, such as:
The cost of HACCP is associated with the initial analysis of the individual company and the standards to which they operate prior to development and implementation of the system. Some of the costs involved during the implementation and maintenance of HACCP are as follows:
For more information, email the CVO/Food Safety Knowledge Centre or call 204-795-8418 in Winnipeg.