Prior to developing your Food Safety Plan, it is necessary to complete five preliminary steps that provide the basis of you plan. These steps are listed in detail below:
Assemble the Team
Pasteurized Milk Ordinance defines a HACCP Team as the group of people who are responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the HACCP system. The team approach minimizes the risk in developing a plan as items are less likely to be excluded or poorly explained.
Determine Team Members
- Team members dependent on specific food operation
- Size of operation
- Type of operation
- Location(s) of operation(s)
- Knowledge and background
- Commitment Quotient
- Team members should be multi-disciplinary
- Quality Assurance/Laboratory
- Upper Management
- Outside experts/Consultants
- Team Members should be trained in Food Safety Systems/HACCP
As a team:
- Develop and update all written documentation
- Implement and maintain Food Safety/HACCP plan and supporting programs
- Verify and validate Food Safety/HACCP system as required
- Provide training options for operational staff
- Maintain effective communication with management
- Interact with outside auditors and inspections
- Interact with regulatory authority where applicable
- Each member should know their role in development
- Assigned roles and responsibilities
- One person often responsible for the written plan and other documents
- Each member should review all written materials
- Provide comments and revisions prior to implementation
- Each member should know their role in implementation
- Oversight of monitoring, documentation, verification, and corrective actions
- Team should meet frequently on a scheduled basis
- Minutes should be taken with action items, goals, and target dates
- Communication is the key!
Describe the Food and its Distribution
The next step is to completely describe each food product that your facility produces. This should include a brief description of the process to help identify potential hazards.
The USDA’s Guidebook for the Preparation of HACCP Plans recommends asking the following questions about the product:
- Common name?
- How is it to be used?
- Categories may include: Ready-to-Eat (RTE), to be heated prior to consumption, or further processing
- Type of packaging?
- Length of shelf life?
- Where will it be sold?
- Will it be sold wholesale or retail?
- Labeling instructions?
- “Keep refrigerated” or “Best if kept frozen” may be some common instructions.
- How is the product distributed?
- Should product be shipped/distributed at a certain temperature?
In addition to a general description of each product, important factors to consider include:
- Potential microbial hazards
- Water activity
- Degree of processing
- Product protection
- Chemical and physical hazards
- Ingredients used
- Potential allergens
- Equipment used
- Packaging used
Describe to Intended Use and Consumers
- Describe the normal expected use of the food
- Requires further cooking
- To be used with other ingredients
- Describe the target audience for the product
- General public
- Particular institutions
- Home use
- Restaurant use
- Particular users
- Immunocompromised individuals
Develop a Flow Diagram
A flow diagram is a general diagram that describes the process step-by-step. It should include all steps in the process, in sequence, directly under control of the facility from raw material receipt through processing, packaging, storage and distribution. NACMCF 1997
Processes that require a flow diagram include:
- Receiving and Storage
- Raw materials
- Processing and Handling
- Blending, batching, addition of ingredients
- Heating, cooking, cooling
- Use of air and other gases
- Filters, screens, metal/magnet detectors
- Pre/post treatment
- Metal detection
- Storage and Distribution
Full-sized examples of flow diagrams available for download here.
Verify the Flow Diagram
After the flow diagrams are created, it is necessary to verify the processes.
- Verify accuracy
- Ensure that the steps and sequence are correct
- Verify completeness
- Ensure that all critical steps are included
- Update as needed
- Document verification and changes
- HACCP Team List
- HACCP Team Meeting Minutes
- Product description for each product
- Flow diagrams for each product