Food safety is of paramount importance when it comes to manufacturing and processing food products. It’s essential to develop a HACCP if you are in the food industry. The term stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. This is an internationally accepted food safety system that outlines how food safety is achieved.

The system takes a preventive approach to food safety by setting up procedures that are to be followed to ensure food is safe. Haccp covers the various biological, chemical and physical food hazards to be identified and then controlled at different stages in production.

Companies involved in manufacturing, handling, or processing foods, need the HACCP to improve food safety.

Twelve steps are involved in developing a HACCP plan to ensure that the seven principles are applied orderly for your company.

Task 1  – Assemble the HACCP Team

To understand better and to be able to identify the possible hazards, the HACCP team should comprise a wide range of disciplines within the commodity system. This team should include

The HACCP team needs to identify and define the scope of the study, whether it covers the whole system or part of it. Other specialists can be added as and when required depending on the scope.

Task 2 – Describe the product at hand

 The HACCP team fully describes the food commodity, its ingredients, and its processing. The information includes mycotoxin level, composition, physical and chemical properties of the elements and the product, moisture content, and PH. Packaging, storage, and transportation for distribution are also detailed.

Task 3 – Identification of the product’s intended use

Describe the expected use of the food and whether it will be consumed directly, be cooked, or require further processing. The targeted consumers are a significant factor to consider. The group may be the general public or a particular population segment (e.g., infants, immune-compromised individuals, the elderly, etc.)

Task 4 – Construct a product flow diagram

 The HACCP team drafts a detailed flow diagram of the commodity. The diagram should be self-explanatory and straightforward and outline all the steps involved.

Task 5 – On-site confirmation of the flow diagram

After completing the Commodity Flow Diagram (CFD), the HACCP team should visit the commodity system to perform an on-site review of the operation and verify the accuracy and completeness of the flow diagram. Changes can be done as necessary. On-site confirmation can be done more than once to ensure that all relevant data has been collected.

Once task 5 has been completed, it’s now time to move to principle 1

Task 6 – Conduct a Hazard Analysis – (PRINCIPLE 1)

The process of performing a hazard analysis has two stages

The HACCP team identifies all possible hazards and risks to the commodity process.

The HACCP team analyses hazards and control measures that could happen during the commodity process.

Food safety hazards have been classified as:

Biological.- Include bacteria, viruses, algae, parasites, and fungi

Chemical – These are chemical toxins that  are either  naturally occurring in foods, produced by

                  Micro-organisms or added by man to the commodity to control an identified problem.

Physical – Contaminants like metal fragments, glass particles, insects, stones, etc.

Task 7 – Determine Critical Control Points (CCPS) – (PRINCIPLE 2)

The critical control point is when a control measure is required to prevent or remove a food safety hazard. These hazards, which could potentially bring illness or cause an injury, are handled at this stage. If a food hazard is identified and by chance, there is no control measure applicable; the production ceases since the food is unsafe for consumption.

A decision tree can be used to determine the CCPs. It’s important to note that the HACCP team’s judgment and expertise are most important for coming up with critical control points.CCPs should be carefully crafted and documented. Even for companies that process the same commodity, the CCPs will be different due to differences in each facility’s layout, equipment, selection of ingredients, processes employed, etc.

Task 8 – Establish Critical Limits for Each CCP – ( PRINCIPLE 3)

Critical limits are then defined, specified, and validated. They are the maximum and minimum values to which biological, chemical, and physical parameters need to be controlled. It established the safe and unsafe levels of commodity use and commodity process.

Critical limit factors include Temperature, Time, Physical dimensions, Humidity, Moisture level, Water activity, PH, Titratable acidity, Salt concentration, Available chlorine, Viscosity, Preservatives, and Sensory information such as aroma and visual appearance. The Critical limits must have a scientific basis. Critical limits and criteria are obtained from regulatory standards and guidelines, experiments, and experts.

Task 9 – Establish a monitoring process – ( PRINCIPLE 4)

 Monitoring is the process of confirming that critical limits are being achieved or met. The results should be immediate so that control may be instituted fast enough to avoid losing control of a step and further avoid losing the product.

Task 10 – Establish corrective actions – (PRINCIPLE 5)

Corrective action should be taken immediately, as soon as monitoring shows that Critical limits are not being met. Corrective action ensures that the CCP has been put under control to prevent losses.

Task 11 – Establish Verification Procedures –  ( PRINCIPLE 6 )

After developing a HACCP plan and all the CCPs have been validated and approved, it’s time to verify the complete HACCP plan.

During the verification process, it is first necessary to evaluate whether the facility’s HACCP system is functioning according to the HACCP plan. It’s also essential to determine whether the plan is scientifically and technically sound. Also, all hazards have been identified, and upon implementation, these hazards will be well controlled.

Task 12 – Establish Documentation and Record-Keeping  – ( PRINCIPLE 7 )

Keeping records is very vital and shows that the correct procedures have been followed from the start to the end of HACCP planning. It also offers product traceability.

Finally, successful implementation of the HACCP plan depends on the commitment of the top management and the selection of people who will be responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the HACCP.