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What is HACCP?

HACCP (pronounced ha-sip ) is short for HAZARD ANALYSIS, CRITICAL CONTROL POINTS. HACCP is a management system that treats the receiving, storage, preparation, and service of food as a continuous operation. HACCP takes into consideration the documented factors which contribute to most foodborne illness outbreaks and uses risk assessment techniques to identify and prioritize hazards. The process of identifying hazards and exercising effective control at critical points during the operation is the basis of the HACCP food safety system. The premise is simple: If each step of the process is carried out correctly, the end product will be safe food.

The Seven Principals of HACCP:

  1. Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.
  2. Identify critical control points. These are points in a food's production--from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer--at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.
  3. Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.
  4. Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.
  5. Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met. For example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.
  6. Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly. For example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.
  7. Establish effective record keeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems.

Advantages of HACCP:

  • focuses on identifying and preventing hazards that can lead to contaminated foods
  • is based on sound science
  • permits more efficient and effective government oversight, primarily because the record keeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than how well it is doing on any given day
  • places responsibility for ensuring food safety appropriately on the food manufacturer or distributor
  • helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market
  • reduces barriers to international trade
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