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What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented in the Food Industry?

What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented
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Food Safety The HACCP System - What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented in the Food Industry?

HACCP management system

HACCP is an acronym for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. HACCP is a proactive management system that helps food producers to ensure the safety of their product from production to consumption. It was originally developed by NASA in the early 1970’s to deal with food safety issues in outer space, to ensure the safety of its astronauts during space missions.

HACCP is critical because it assures good practices of the process to prevent any contamination or adulteration of the product. It assures that there are standards and procedures that are followed when creating a product so no problems occur. It also ensures that there is a procedure for identifying and correcting any potential problems before they become big or widespread.

It is important that you are aware of the potential hazards in your business and have a plan in place to prevent them from happening. For example, if you have an egg-washing machine, it is critical that you are aware of any potential dangers with water temperature and pressure so that they can be avoided.

What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented?

The Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) management system addresses food safety. It addresses the analysis and the control of physical, chemical, and biological hazards that arise from the production, and procurement, as well as the manufacture of raw materials, to the distribution and the consumption of the finished food product. The design of the HACCP uses all the food industry segments.

HACCP is recognized internationally as a method for the identification and management of risks related to food safety. When a HACCP management system is placed at the heart of a program dedicated to food safety, it can potentially provide customers, the general public, and the dedicated regulatory agencies the assurance of a well-managed program for food safety. The HACCP system involves the following

  • Considering what the business is doing, what can go wrong, and what risks there are to food safety.
  • Identifying if any, the critical control points, those areas that a business needs to address for it to remove or at least reduce risks identified to safe and acceptable levels.
  • Deciding on what action the business needs to take in the event that something goes wrong.
  • Ensuring that all stakeholders follow procedures and that those procedures work.
  • The HACCP system also keeps records as proof of working procedures

Major Food Hazards

The more significant food industry hazards include microbiological contaminants such as Clostridium botulinum and Salmonella and E. coli. The design of HACCP focuses on the control of these most significant risks. Other notable hazards are chemical, involving contamination by chemical, then physical, involving foreign physical objects in the food e.g. bolts, nuts, screws, plastic or glass.

Importance of the HACCP Management System

Implementing the HACCP program properly comes with a host of benefits, including the following.

  1. Reduces complaints from customers and chances of a product recall

It reduces the likelihood of customers complaining about food safety. As well, through the HACCP, the food establishment is able to prior identify, control, and thereby address potential food hazards likely to result from human error, facility processes, and raw materials. Consequently,   the food establishment reduces the likelihood of product recall from the market in return saving the Brand Image, less costs and claims from consumers.

  1. Build consumer confidence

By controlling and addressing critical food risks and hazards, including microbiological, physical, and chemical contaminants of food, the HACCP enables the food industry to build confidence among consumers regarding the safety of products insofar as science and technology are concerned.

  1. Regulatory importance

The HACCP also has regulatory importance. Within the UK, the Food and Standards Agency (FSA) has a foodborne diseases strategy. Its compliance and enforcement plan aims to improve health and public protection through a better risk-based regulatory system. One of the activities under the strategy includes disseminating practical advice to food businesses regarding compliance with HACCP requirements that are enshrined in UK’s food hygiene legislation.

How to implement the HACCP management system

The implementation of the HACCP management system varies and is in most cases specific to products and processes. One can use generic HACCP plans to guide the development of product and process HACCP plans, however, it is vital to consider the unique conditions prevailing in each facility when developing all the components of the HACCP plan. Generally, you can implement the HACCP in a dozen steps as outlined below.

  1. Assemble the HACCP team

The HACCP team you assemble must match the size, risk as well as complexity of business operations. It must have the technical expertise and carry an awareness of potential hazards and relevant controls. At this point, a commitment by the business management is critical. The team must be conversant with products and processes and must be of a multi-disciplinary membership. In addition, it must be familiar with principles of the HACCP

  1. Food Processing and distribution

The second step involves describing the product and process involved. Each product needs a separate HACCP.  You also identify a method for product distribution and establish the safety hazards or even the quality issues of the food product.

  1. Intended use and consumers

This step involves identifying intended users and consumers. It involves establishing the impact that the product will have on the public, including the market segment and particular consumers, and whether or not the target is wholesale or retailers. You also establish any specific characteristics of the food i.e Nutritional values, cooking instructions and shelf life to name a few.

  1. Construct a flow diagram

This step involves constructing a systematic representation of the sequence of relevant steps that are involved in producing the final product. This typically starts with raw material purchase, through to delivery, storage, preparation, any cooking required, chilling, freezing, dispatch and transportation.

  1. Flow diagram validation

The flow diagram constructed in the previous step is validated to ensure it reflects production processes accurately and if any short falls are indentified the HACCP plan will need ammended to include these short falls..

  1. Hazard analysis

This involves the identification of process hazards, steps should hazards occur, and determining the significance of hazards as well as the measures necessary to control the hazards, i.e. temperture control, cleaning records e.t.c.

  1. Determine critical control points

At this point, you identify process points where you can apply control to prevent hazard occurrence e.g. monitoring devices, swabbing e.t.c.

  1. Critical limits (CCP)

Critical limits are established at this step. These are the limits to be met to insure product safety. Exceeding or not meeting these limits means the existence of a health hazard.

  1. Monitoring/inspection

Monitoring and/or inspection must control the CCPs, be effective, and be done at reliable intervals. Monitoring must also be rapid and consistent.

  1. Corrective actions

This step specifies the procedures that you will take in the event of any deviations. Document these corrective actions, and eliminate actual or potential hazards. This should also assist the prevention of a reoccurrence.

  1. Verification

This involves using methods, tests, and procedures to demonstrate how decisions that are made in developing the HACCP management system are both effective and valid.

  1. Documentation and keeping records

Documentation demonstrates compliance with the HACCP safety management plan. The records should cover every part of the HACCP plan, including team membership to all actions required to ensure safe production of safe food.  

Conclusion

What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented? HACCP is a system that food businesses can adhere to, and follow to reduce risks of unsafe food.  HACCP has indeed evolved into a fundamental guiding principle that is used to assess risks that are associated with processing and handling food. I hope this article has left you with a little bit of a better understanding of: What is a HACCP management system and how can it be implemented?

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