Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP)

What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a system that allows you to identify and control any hazards that could pose a danger to the preparation of safe food. It involves identifying what can go wrong, planning to prevent it and making sure you are doing it. HACCP is a legal requirement but will also benefit your business.

HACCP has seven principles which are set out in Regulation 852/2004/EC on the hygiene of foodstuffs. Your food safety management system must be based on these principles.

A food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP will enable hazards to be identified and controlled before they threaten the safety of food and your customers.

There are seven principles of HACCP:

A food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP will enable hazards to be identified and controlled before they threaten the safety of food and your customers.

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Identify the hazards

Look at each step (e.g. purchasing, delivery, storage, preparation, cooking, chilling etc.) in your operation and identify what can go wrong, e.g. unpasteurised product in the pasteurised product due to cross-contamination of defective heat exchanger plates (biological hazard), contamination of uncovered food with detergent(chemical hazard) or a piece of broken glass falling into an uncovered food (physical hazard).

Establish critical limit(s)

Set limits to enable you to identify when a CCP is out of control, e.g. for milk: the minimum pasteurisation conditions are those having bactericidal effects equivalent to heating every particle of the milk to 72°C for 15 seconds (continuous flow pasteurisation) or 63° for 30 minutes (batch pasteurisation).

Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under the control

When monitoring indicates that a CCP is not under control, corrective action must be taken.

Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application

For the successful implementation of HACCP, appropriate documentation and records must be kept and be readily available. It is unrealistic to operate HACCP or demonstrate compliance with the current legislation without providing evidence such as written records. As with HACCP itself, the complexity of the record-keeping will very much depend on the nature and complexity of the business. The aim should be to ensure control is maintained without generating excessive paperwork.

Determine the critical control points (CCPs)

Identify the points in your operation that ensures control of the hazards, e.g. pasteurisation thoroughly will kill pathogens.

Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP

When CCPs and critical limits have been identified, it is important to have a way to monitor and record what is happening at each CCP. Typically monitoring will involve measuring parameters such as temperature and time. However, how you monitor and how often will depend on the size and nature of your business. Monitoring should, in all cases be simple, clear and easy to do.

Establish procedures for verification to confirm the HACCP system is working effectively

Review and correct the system periodically. Whenever you make changes to your operation, e.g. when replacing a pump, verify that the pasteurisation process’s time/temperature settings achieve the minimum temperature/time requirements.
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