As a food protection manager, you have a responsibility to oversee food safety throughout the entire process. This is where HACCP becomes relevant.
HACCP stands for “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.” The FDA defines this as “a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.”
HACCP helps coordinate and manage the flow of food through the entire processing cycle.
While developing an HACCP plan may seem like a daunting task, here are the 7 formal principles of an HACCP plan.
Conduct a hazard analysis
First, start by brainstorming potential hazards. Develop a list of hazards that could cause injury or illness if not controlled. These can be biological, physical, or chemical. The second phase of this principle is to determine which or the hazards listed should be included in the HACCP plan, based off the level of severity the potential hazard and how likely it is to occur.
Determine critical control points
Find out which control points can be used to neutralize the hazard’s threat. The most common example in restaurants is temperature control, such as properly chilling food and cooking food to it’s recommended internal temperature. Determine the critical control points for each hazard.
Establish critical limits
Building off the last principle, the next step is to establish critical limits. What is the maximum and/or minimum values needed to reduce or eliminate the risk of a food safety hazard? Going off of our previous example of temperature control, what is the minimum internal cooking temperature needed to reduce the bacteria to a safe level? Again, establish critical limits for each hazard.
Establish monitoring procedures
Now that you know the critical control points and the critical limits, it’s time to establish a monitoring procedure to ensure the critical limits are met. For our temperature control example, this could be using a thermometer to check the internal cooking temperature.
Monitoring procedures need to be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that critical limits are being met.
Establish corrective actions
The next step of developing an HACCP plan is to figure out what corrective actions should be conducted if critical limits are not met. In other words, what should be done to avoid a food safety hazard? The plan should also specify who should perform the corrective action so that there is no confusion, and so it will get done.
Establish verification procedures
This principle involves verifying whether the HACCP plan is valid. This includes making sure the plan is being followed, and that it is scientifically and technically sound.
Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures
I final step is to be sure to document your HACCP plan and keep records of its execution.
If you want a more comprehensive guide on developing your HACCP plan, the USDA has a comprehensive step-by-step guide to the process.