The Ultimate HACCP Food Safety Guide

A proactive approach to mitigating food safety risks and hazards

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What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP is an internationally recognized system that aims to mitigate food safety risks and hazards. HACCP identifies possible dangers to public health and empowers a proactive approach to food safety by setting critical control points. The HACCP system identifies and controls the three following potential food safety hazards: biological, chemical and physical. Companies involved in the manufacturing, processing, or handling of food products are encouraged to use HACCP to minimize or eliminate food safety hazards in their products.

What is a HACCP Plan?

A HACCP Plan is an operating plan for controlling and managing hazards in the food manufacturing industry. Using a HACCP plan ensures food products are safe and of high quality. It helps protect consumers from foodborne illnesses and reduce instances of product recalls, helping companies save money and protecting them from hefty fines and laborious lawsuits.

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This guide will briefly discuss the 7 principles of HACCP, how to develop a HACCP plan, the importance of HACCP record keeping, and the proper way of doing them.

7 Principles of an Effective HACCP Plan

Principle #1: Conduct A Hazard Analysis

An effective hazard analysis involves listing down the steps in the production process and identifying 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 a 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.

Getting Started With a 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 Developing a Good HACCP Plan

  1. Identify who’s involved – Assemble a multidisciplinary HACCP team which represents 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 its purpose – 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.

HACCP Recordkeeping: Why is it Important?

Recordkeeping is one of the 7 Principles of HACCP and its proper implementation is required to acquire HACCP certification. Accurate record keeping can help line managers and business owners keep track of the historical record of their food production processes and corrective actions implemented. Record keeping can also help provide proof of consistent HACCP compliance.

What are the Main Types of Required HACCP Records?

To get certified for HACCP and to stay compliant, businesses are required to maintain the records of their HACCP system, food production processes and, most importantly, monitoring of Critical Control Points (CCPs) and corrective actions.

What is a Critical Control Point (CCP)?

A CCP is a pause point within a production process a businesses has the opportunity to prevent, mitigate, or completely eliminate a food safety hazard. It is accompanied by a critical limit which is a set boundary where measurements must stay within to minimize food safety hazards. Any deviations from the critical limit must be accompanied by predefined corrective actions to fix the issue.

How to Monitor CCPs and Perform Record Keeping

CCP monitoring involves scheduled measurements and record keeping of CCPs to ensure they are within their critical limits. Here is a framework including examples and record keeping tips on how to perform effective CCP monitoring:

 

CCP Monitoring Framework

Item

Description

Example

Record Keeping Tips

CCP Step

A key step in the production process which is at risk of food safety hazards.

This step should be able to be paused and monitored.

Reprocessing of poultry involving vacuuming and trimming

Your HACCP team should identify and prioritize this as part of their hazard analysis and document it in a HACCP plan template

Critical Limit

Set boundaries where measurements must stay within to minimize food safety hazards

No visible fecal contamination and 20-50ppm chlorine

Include detailed staff instructions in your record keeping tool on how to perform measurements and check against critical limits

Monitoring Procedure

Establishes the frequency of monitoring, by whom, what to observe, and how to observe.

Line supervisor will conduct hourly random sampling to check for visible fecal matter.

Line supervisor to check chlorine every 2 hours.

HACCP routine monitoring records should include date, time, photo evidence, staff doing the monitoring, and observation details.

Corrective Actions

Details the steps to take if critical limits are not met.

Reprocess or condemn.

Adjust and recheck chlorinator.

Corrective/ Deviation Action Log

HACCP Verifications

CCP monitoring tools and records are checked.

Daily check of records.

Chemical testing once a day.

Ideally done and recorded by a designated staff who did not conduct the CCP monitoring.

How to Correctly Document Corrective Actions

Using a corrective action log, details of the deviation from critical limits and the corresponding corrective action done should be recorded every time they happen. It is important to capture the exact date and time as well as the name of the staff who carried out the action.

The Importance of Effective Record Keeping Verification

Verification is a crucial principle of HACCP that helps confirm if a HACCP Plan is being followed and if the procedures implemented are indeed effective in controlling food safety hazards. Record keeping verification helps review corrective actions taken and ensures that they are done properly.

Trends on the frequency and types of deviations from critical limits can be observed through verification. If done routinely just like in monitoring CCPs, verification can help in the consistent implementation and continuous improvement of a HACCP system.

How Businesses are Using Technology to Streamline HACCP Recordkeeping

HACCP certified companies maintain their certification by following the 7 principles of HACCP and by being consistent and detailed with their record keeping. However, traditionally HACCP record keeping has been paper-based and can cause undue paperwork burdens and make certification more difficult to achieve and maintain.

Using software tools can help streamline HACCP record keeping and help line supervisors and staff fulfill their daily HACCP routine checks.

 

See how Marley Spoon, a trusted food delivery business in Australia, uses technology to mitigate food safety risks and ensure each step of the production aligns with their HACCP plan.

Making HACCP Easy With iAuditor

Using digital checklists can be very useful to materialize and document your HACCP Plan. iAuditor is one of the world’s best 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;
  • Perform paperless HACCP checks using any handheld device;
  • Conduct better monitoring procedures and hazard analysis;
  • Record and document all significant information;
  • Take photos of CCP deviations and capture values that justify the need for corrective actions;
  • Perform accurate temperature checks using bluetooth thermometers (new on SafetyCulture: automated temperature monitoring);
  • Conduct routine checks with the aid of automatic scheduling notifications; and track improvements on overall food safety.

A HACCP system helps keep food safe for consumers and helps businesses prevent costly losses. Streamlined recordkeeping in the implementation of an effective HACCP plan can be made possible by technology that you can access anytime, anywhere in the palm of your hand. Get started by downloading our free HACCP checklists and modify them based on your HACCP plans and needs.