Food safety entails specific methods and procedures for the handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. Food safety systems help to ensure the safety of your food products, protecting both your consumers and your business. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a specific food safety system that is a systematic science-based approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards. HACCP is neither a stand-alone nor reactive program. Rather HACCP is a preventative program designed to identify potential hazards associated with food, determining if they are likely to occur, and developing control measures that reduce or eliminate the identified hazards. The principles of HACCP are applicable across all aspects of food production from agriculture to processing to distribution.
The identification of potential hazards in products and processes and their likelihood to occur is known as Hazard Analysis. Your analysis should result the creation of a system of controls known as Critical Control Points (CCP). A common example of a common CCP in dairy processing is pasteurization as the appropriate heating and cooling of the raw milk eliminates most pathogens.
In the early 1960s, Pillsbury Co., in cooperation with NASA, created a system to ensure safe foods for the space program. The program was publically released in the early 1970s and was recommended for adoption by all regulatory agencies in the mid-1980s. The National Advisory Committee of Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) provided the HACCP model currently in use.
Food Safety/HACCP Terms
- Continuous Monitoring: Uninterrupted collection and recording of data such as a time and temperature recording chart or device.
- Control: (a) (Verb) To manage the conditions of an operation to maintain compliance with established criteria. (b) (Noun) The state in which correct procedures are being followed and criteria are being met.
- Control Measure: Any action or activity that can be used to prevent, eliminate, or reduce a significant hazard. May also be referred to as “preventative measures.”
- Control Point: Any point, step, or procedure at which biological, physical, or chemical factors can be controlled.
- Corrective Action: Procedures followed when a deviation occurs.
- Critical Control Point (CCP): A step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
- CCP Decision Tree: A sequence of questions asked to determine whether a control point is a CCP.
- Critical Limit: A maximum and/or minimum value to which a biological, chemical, or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level the occurrence of a food safety hazard.
- Deviation: Failure to meet a critical limit.
- HACCP: A systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards.
- HACCP Plan: The written document that is based upon the principles of HACCP and that delineates the procedures to be followed.
- HACCP System: The result of the implementation of the HACCP plan.
- HACCP Team: The group of people who are responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the HACCP system.
- Hazard: A biological, chemical, or physical agent that is reasonably likely to cause illness or injury in the absence of its control.
- Hazard Analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards associated with the food under consideration to decide which are significant and must be addressed in the HACCP Plan.
- Monitoring: To conduct a planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a CCP is under control and to produce an accurate record for future use in verification.
- Operating Limits: Criteria that are more stringent than critical limits and that are used by an operator to reduce the risk of a deviation.
- Prerequisite Programs: Procedures, including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that address operational conditions providing the foundation for the HACCP system.
- Severity: The seriousness of a hazard, if not properly controlled.
- Validation: The element of verification focused on collecting and evaluating scientific and technical information to determine if the HACCP plan, when properly implemented, will effectively control the hazards.
- Verification: Those activities that determine the validity of the HACCP plan and that the system is operating according to plan.
Definitions are from the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Principles and Applications Guidelines, 1997.