Developing A HACCP Plan To Improve Food Safety

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What is a HACCP Plan?

A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan is a strategy used globally for controlling hazards in the food manufacturing industry. A HACCP plan helps protect consumers from food contamination through the evaluation of risks involved in food handling and food processing.

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This brief guide will help you understand the importance of HACCP, the 5 preliminary steps in developing a HACCP Plan, and the 7 principles to successfully implement and manage a HACCP system. We also feature digital HACCP checklists to help you perform better HACCP audits and improve food safety.

Getting Started with Your HACCP Plan

The HACCP system aims to spot biological, chemical, or physical hazards present in food production. When preparing and processing food, some natural hazards could be present in the form of insects or filth. Other hazards could be unintentional like the presence of hair or mislabeling of ingredients. Higher risk hazards can include intentional adulteration or contamination of products by not adhering to regulatory food standards.

Food production safety should be the topmost priority for food manufacturers. Here are the 5 prerequisites to developing a good HACCP plan:

5 Preliminary Steps to develop a good HACCP Plan:

  1. Identify Who’s Involved – Assemble a multidisciplinary HACCP team which represent individuals from all areas of the facility. (e.g. QA, R&D, Sanitation, Maintenance, Shipping and Receiving, Production and Purchasing, etc)
  2. Describe the Product and What It Is For – Have your HACCP team describe the food and its intended use. Define processing methods and how it is distributed.
  3. Know Your Consumers – Determine the target consumers, this could be the general public or a particular demographic with specific needs. (e.g. infants, pregnant women, the elderly, etc.).
  4. Create A Flow Diagram – To further understand the product and its production process, develop a flow diagram to clearly outline the steps of the whole plan.
  5. Verify Your Diagram – Evaluate the accuracy and completeness of the flow diagram by conducting inspections during actual work operations.

After following the five prerequisite steps, it is important to follow a set of core principles when applying your HACCP Plan.

7 Principles to apply your HACCP Plan:

Principle #1: Conduct A Hazard Analysis

An effective hazard analysis involves listing down the steps in the production process and identify the hazards associated with each task performed. Afterwards, the HACCP team should assess the severity, significance, and frequency of the risk and set preventive measures. Browse this page to learn how to perform a systematic risk assessment.

Principle #2: Determine the CCPs

A Critical Control Point or CCP is a step in the production process where you have the opportunity to prevent, mitigate, or completely eliminate a food safety hazard (e.g. receiving products, food preparation and handling, cooking, reheating, transportation, etc.).

Principle #3: Establish Critical Limits of CCPs

A critical limit is the minimum/ maximum value for the control measure at a CCP to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the occurence of a hazard. It separates safe and acceptable products from the unsafe and unacceptable. Examples include measuring time, temperature, pH levels, water activity, weight, and other measures based on regulatory standards.

Principle #4: Setup Monitoring System

Monitoring CCPs on a regular basis helps keep track of the operation to determine if there’s a deviation from the CCP or a loss of control. Monitored CCPs can provide data for proper documentation to help establish corrective actions.

Principle #5: Establish Corrective Actions

Corrective actions must be in place when preventive measures are not sufficient to meet the goals of the plan. Corrective actions are followed when there is a deviation from a critical limit. HACCP team should identify the problem and cause of non-conformance, and the disposition of the hazardous product. Make sure that corrective actions are recorded and properly documented.

Principle #6: Verify the HACCP Plan

Verifying a HACCP plan should not be limited to just monitoring of the operation, you must validate if the HACCP system is operating according to the intended course of action. Examples of verification activities include product testing, consulting experts, in-plant observations, instrument calibration, and log reviews.

Principle #7: Establish Documentation

A detailed HACCP plan record serves as strong evidence that the manufactured food is safe and has undergone critical procedures to cover all possible risks. All records should contain complete information of the 5 prerequisites and 7 principles.

An HACCP Plan is most effective by performing each step thoroughly and rigorously. The HACCP team must be committed to regularly validate the process and identify what might go wrong. To support the HACCP plan, a good manufacturing practice (GMP) can be established to ensure all manufacturing procedures are safe and comply with manufacturing standards.

HACCP Software Tools

Using digital checklists can be very useful to materialize and document your HACCP Plan. iAuditor is the world’s #1 cloud based inspection software which allows users to perform world class inspections and generate reports on the spot. iAuditor’s digital HACCP checklists can be used to:

  • Create a general profile of the HACCP team and the products;
  • Conduct better monitoring procedures and hazard analysis;
  • Record and document all significant information and
  • Track improvements on food safety.

Get started by downloading our free HACCP checklists and modify them based on your HACCP plans and needs.