With a review of the Food Safety Standards under way in Australia, it seemed a good time to do a reminder about what is the international standard for food safety – HACCP.
For thos who don’t know HACCP is Hazard analysis Critical Control Points and it was originally developed for use in those companies which made the food for the astronauts of the 1960s.
It has therefore been the internationally recognised standard for food safety for more than 50 years and has had very little modification in all that time.
It is all based on the Seven HACCP Principles and, now, 12 steps. The following is a summary of those Principles and steps
THE SEVEN HACCP PRINCIPLES
Principle 1 – Conduct a Hazard Analysis
Using a flowchart of the food process, an analysis is done on each step to determine all of the potential food safety related hazards. These hazards are typically about temperature, stock rotation, contamination, cross-contamination, allergens and need to consider all of the seven ps of each step; people, product, process, premises, plant, procedures, and paperwork
A Risk Assessment Guide is then used to determine the risk of each identified hazard. Risk is a mix of how often (frequency) and how bad (severity) and is usually shown as a H (High), M (Medium) or L (Low).
Both the Hazard Analysis and the Risk Assessment are shown on the HARA (Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment). Needs to be reviewed whenever there is a change to any of the seven ps.
Principle 2 – Identify the Critical Control Points
A critical control point (CCP) is a point, step or procedure at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels. A Decision Tree is used to determine if each identified hazard with a medium or high risk is a CCP or simply a Control Point (CP). These are usually given numbers in the order they are determined not in priority. Shown on the HARA.
Principle 3 – Establish Critical Limits
This is shown on a document called the HACCP Table and identify the specification required for each CCP. As an example for a temperature CCP, the Critical Limit will be a specific temperature or range that must be achieved for that CCP to be in control.
Principle 4- Monitor CCP
Shown with the Critical Limit on the HACCP Table, this is what is controlled to monitor each CCP to keep it under control. Will include how it is done, the frequency, and who is responsible. It may be a summary and reference a specific written procedure.
Principle 5 – Establish Corrective Action
Corrective Actions are those taken to bring a CCP back into control if it deviates from the Critical Limits. The Preventative Actions are those taken to prevent it from falling out of the required Limits again. Both actions need to be shown on the HACCP Table for each CCP.
Principle 6 – Verification
Shown on the HACCP Table, these are the actions taken to confirm that the CCPs and the supporting system, will include a sign off on the records by a supervisor / manager, internal audits and scales up to microbiological testing of the process and product by registered labs, depending upon the actual CCP. This should be linked to the Verification Schedule.
Principle 7 – Recordkeeping
Shown on the HACCP Table, these are the proof that the CCP was under control and that the food is being made safely. Will include not only process records, but calibration, audit reports, micro reports, training records, maintenance records, meeting minutes and others.
The HACCP documents should not be developed by a single person as there is a much higher likelihood that hazards and other parts of the Principles will be missed. So a HACCP Team must be created and supported, with regular minuted meetings.
The HACCP documents form only part of the full HACCP Plan. The Plan incorporates all of the mandatory requirements in the Food Safety Standards, including; Good Manufacturing Pracices (GMP), pest control, training, cleaning, temperature control, stock rotation, and others.
THE 12 STEPS
So knowing that a HACCP Plan is required for a business, what steps need to be followed for it to be developed and then maintained;
CREATE THE FOOD SAFETY / HACCP TEAM
DESCRIBE THE FOOD IN GREAT DETAIL
DESCRIBE THE INTENDED CONSUMER AND HOW THEY ARE GOING TO CONSUME THE FOOD
DIAGRAM THE PROCESS FLOW, FROM RECEIVING TO SHIPPING
VERIFY THE PROCESS FLOW DIAGRAM
CONDUCT A HAZARD ANALYSIS
DETERMINE CRITICAL CONTROL POINTS
SET CRITICAL LIMITS
ESTABLISH MONITORING PROCEDURES
ESTABLISH CORRECTIVE ACTIONS
VERIFY, THEN VALIDATE
ESTABLISH GOOD RECORD KEEPING
For more information – go to http://www.fao.org/3/a1552e/a1552e00.htm