In order to enhance food safety, every stage of the food production (from purchasing, receiving, transportation, storage, preparation, handling, cooking to serving) should be carried out and monitored scrupulously.
The HACCP system is a scientific and systematic approach to identify, assess and control of hazards in the food production process. With the HACCP system, food safety control is integrated into the design of the process rather than relied on end-product testing. Therefore HACCP system provides a preventive and thus cost-effective approach in food safety.
The seven principles of a HACCP System are-
- Analyze hazards
- Determine critical control points
- Establish limits for critical control points
- Establish monitoring procedures for critical control points
- Establish corrective actions
- Establish verification procedures
- Establish a record system
A food safety hazard is any biological, chemical or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption. We analyze hazards to identify any hazardous biological, chemical, or physical property in raw materials and processing steps, and to assess their likeliness of occurrence and potential to render food unsafe for consumption.
A critical control point is a point, a step or a procedure in a food manufacture process at which control can be applied and, as a result, a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level.
Not every point identified with hazards and preventive measures will become a critical control point. A logical decision-making process is applied to determine whether or not the process is a critical control point. The logical decision-making process for determining critical control points may include factors such as:
- whether control at this particular step is necessary for safety;
- whether control at this step eliminates or reduces the likely occurrence of the hazard to an acceptable level;
- whether contamination with the hazard identified could occur in excess of acceptable levels;
- whether subsequent steps will eliminate or acceptably reduce the hazard
Limit for critical control point is a criterion which separates acceptability from unacceptability. It is the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical hazard must be controlled at a critical control point to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level the occurrence of the identified food safety hazard.
Examples of limits for critical control point are time, temperature, humidity, water activity and pH value. The limits should be measurable.
In some cases, more than one critical limit is needed to control a particular hazard.
Monitoring is a planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a critical control point is under control and to produce an accurate record for future use in verification. Monitoring is very important for a HACCP system. Monitoring can warn the plant if there is a trend towards loss of control so that it can take action to bring the process back into control before the limit is exceeded.
The employee responsible for the monitoring procedure should be clearly identified and adequately trained.
Corrective action is an action taken when the results of monitoring at the critical control point indicate that the limit is exceeded, i.e. a loss of control.
Since HACCP is a preventive system to correct problems before they affect food safety, plant management has to plan in advance to correct potential deviations from established critical limits. Whenever a limit for critical control point is exceeded, the plant will need to take corrective actions immediately.
The plant management has to determine the corrective action in advance. The employees monitoring the critical control point should understand this process and be trained to perform the appropriate corrective actions.
Verification is the application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring, to determine compliance with the HACCP plan.
Some examples of verification are the calibration of process monitoring instruments at specified intervals, direct observation of monitoring activities, and corrective actions. Besides, sampling of product, monitoring records review and inspections can serve to verify the HACCP system.
The plant management should check that the employees are keeping accurate and timely HACCP records.
Maintaining proper HACCP records is an essential part of the HACCP system. Accurate and complete HACCP records can be very helpful for:
- documentation of the establishment's compliance with its HACCP plan;
- tracing the history of an ingredient, in-process operations, or a finished product, when problem arise;
- identifying trends in a particular operation that could result in a deviation if not corrected;
- identifying and narrowing a product recall.
The record of a HACCP system should include records for critical control points, establishments of limits, corrective actions, results of verification activities, and the HACCP plan including hazard analysis.
To establish recordkeeping procedures, plant management may:
- develop forms to fully record corrective actions taken when deviations occur;
- identify employees responsible for entering monitoring data into the records and ensure that they understand their roles and esponsibilities