Below we outline the 7 Principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points for Food Producers, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration. These principles are essential for food monitoring, especially when it comes to creating consistency in your food manufacturing process. No one likes Salmonella, Listeria, or finding something crazy in their ice cream.
Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
A hazard analysis is an identification scavenger hunt. After you have assembled a HACCP team, the first step in the HACCP Principles is to find hazards in your facility that are likely to cause injury or illness if they are not monitored and controlled. This step is long and tedious, but for good reason: the list of potential hazard points will inform the rest of your HACCP plan. Food producers should examine raw materials, individual steps in the manufacturing process, storage, distribution, packaging, and transportation.
Principle 2: Determine the critical control points.
In their ”HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines,” The Food and Drug Administration has this to say about finding critical control points: ”Critical control points are located at any step where hazards can be either prevented, eliminated, or reduced to acceptable levels.”
So, this is the logical next step in the HACCP Principles. When determining HACCP Critical Control Points, your HACCP team should be on the lookout for thermal processing, chilling, chemical residues, and any location where product safety could be compromised. Where are those locations? Refer to Principle 1.
Principle 3: Establish critical limits.
Critical limits allow a food production facility to know the minimum and maximum values at which a product is deemed safe, and not a food safety hazard. An example of a critical limit, is internal temperature reached during cooking. To safely cook away bacteria in a food production plant for say, chicken tenders, a minimum internal temperature will have to be reached, and that is where you should set your critical limits.
Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.
Hey monitoring! We know about this! The idea behind monitoring procedures is to have down, in writing, what, where, and when you will be monitoring during the food production process. The goals of monitoring during food production are simple: to establish a product track/identity, and to know when critical limits were passed at Critical Control Points.
Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.
When you screw up, you should know what to do! According to the FDA, ”Deviations from established processes may occur.” With corrective actions, your overall goal should be to prevent a food that passed a critical limit from making it to the consumer.
Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.
Frequent reviews are key! A good HACCP plan shouldn’t need an overwhelming amount of end-product testing, as long as the critical control points are being properly monitored. That being said, monitoring is not and end all be all solution for food producers. HACCP plan evaluations can assist you in verifying the safety of your products. You want to verify records, team members, and Critical Control Point monitoring.
Principle 7: Establish a record keeping and documentation process.
Don’t forget the documentation! We always say that ”documentation is key,” and HACCP is no exception to the rule. Documenting isn’t enough to adhere to HACCP regulations though, you need to establish a process to keep up on your documentation.