No matter how food is involved in your business, it's fair to say that keeping that food safe makes up a huge part of ensuring your company stays running. Without food safety measures in place, the chances are that your business would go bust in no time.
During the 1960s, in an effort to help reduce the presence of foodborne illnesses, a selection of companies came together to develop a risk assessment and food safety plan. This plan "HACCP", OR Hazard Analysis, and Critical Control Points, is a system for process control designed to identify, and hopefully prevent microbial and additional hazards in food production. The concept includes various steps intended to prevent problems before they take place, and also correct deviations from proper food maintenance as soon as they're detected. The idea is that HACCP can be used as a universal way to avoid food code violations and contaminations that could be harmful to consumers.
In order to properly follow HACCP, food-based companies need to use and implement seven basic principles - all of which we'll cover below.
1. Hazard Analysis
The first principle, and step of HACCP, is hazard analysis - a process that is designed to help individuals and companies identify potential risks to food safety within a manufacturing programs. Plans should be put in place to prevent danger from those hazards, which can include chemical contamination, or even biological contamination.
2. Critical Control Points
Once a hazard analysis has been conducted, companies must recognize critical control points - areas within the manufacturing of the food substances that might lead to serious risk. These hazards must be found and corrected immediately during the process. For instance, one hazard may be improperly storing foods at the incorrect temperature.
3. Critical Limits
The control points in place within a food safety procedure will include critical limits, which include moth maximums and minimums to be followed. For instance, the minimum temperature at which food can be stored within a refrigerator is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Other critical limits might include considerations of time, humidity, and pH value.
4. Monitoring of Control Points
Knowing the critical limits of various control points when managing food is one thing, monitoring those points for deviation is another. Monitoring must include a sequence of measurements or observations that assess whether a critical control point is in a state that could lead to risk. For instance, an automatic temperature monitoring system within a freezer or refrigerator could help you to monitor risk levels.
5. Corrective Action
All companies working with food should have a plan in place for specific corrective actions that must be taken when a hazard arises within a critical control point. This could mean checking the temperatures of food and adjusting resources when a refrigerator falls below 40 degrees or simply taking steps to store food more appropriately when problems begin to arise.
6. Verification Procedures
When corrective action is taken, verification must take place to ensure that the application of methods, procedures, evaluations, and tests is carried out in accordance with the overall HACCP plan. This could mean calibrating process monitoring instruments at specific times of the month, or directly observing monitoring activities and corrective actions that might be taken.
7. Record Keeping
Finally, maintaining proper records is an essential part of the HACCP system, as it can help to prove that an organization is complying with their HACCP plan, and assist in tracking down the route of an issue when problems begin to arise.
Records should include details of the HACCP plan in place, as well as the established critical control points, limits, and any corrective action that may have been taken.
Using the HACCP System
Some people prefer to use the assistance of industry professionals when implementing their HACCP system. However, before you engage the service of consultants for your company, it's worth looking at your own food safety procedures in depth, and evaluating their effectiveness and efficiency in accordance with safety guidelines.