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Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point is an effective way to assure food safety from harvest to consumption. Preventing problems from occurring is the underlying goal of any HACCP system. To meet this goal, seven principles are used in developing HACCP plans. These include Hazard Analysis, Critical Control Point Identification, Establishing Critical Limits, Monitoring Procedures, Corrective Actions, Verification Procedures, and Record Keeping and Documentation. Under such systems, if a deviation occurs indicating that control has been lost, the deviation is detected and appropriate steps are taken to re-establish control in a timely manner to assure that potentially hazardous products do not reach the consumer.
The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles should be standardized to provide uniformity in training and in applying the HACCP system by industry and government. Each food establishment needs to develop their own HACCP system and tailor it to the industry's individual product, processing and distribution conditions.
In order to assure food safety, properly designed HACCP systems must consider biological, chemical and physical hazards. For a successful HACCP program to be properly implemented, management must be committed to a HACCP approach. A commitment by management will indicate an awareness of the benefits and costs of HACCP and include education and training of employees. Benefits include enhanced assurance of food safety, better use of resources and timely responses to problems.
Before developing and implementing an effective HACCP plan, a few preliminary tasks need to be established. These include:
An effective HACCP system is built on a solid foundation of prerequisite programs. These programs provide the basic environment and operating conditions that are necessary for the production of safe, wholesome food. Many of the conditions and practices are specified in federal and provincial regulations and guidelines. All prerequisite programs should be documented and regularly audited, and are established and maintained separately from the HACCP plan.
Education and Training
The success of a HACCP system depends on educating and training management and employees in the importance of their role in producing safe foods. This should include information on the control of foodborne hazards related to all stages of the food chain. Management must provide adequate time for thorough education and training.
Developing a HACCP Plan
The format of HACCP plans will vary and in many cases the plans will be product and process specific. Generic HACCP plans can serve as useful guides in the development of process and product HACCP plans; however, it is essential that the unique conditions within each facility be considered during the development of all components of the HACCP plan. In developing a HACCP plan, five tasks need to be accomplished. These are assembling the HACCP team, describing the food and its distribution, describing the intended use and consumers of the food, developing a flow diagram which describes the process, and verifying the flow diagram. Once the preliminary tasks have been met, the seven basic principles of HACCP can then be applied.
The successful implementation of a HACCP plan is facilitated by commitment from top management. The next step is to establish a plan that describes the individuals responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the HACCP system. Initially, the HACCP coordinator and team are selected and trained as necessary. The team is then responsible for developing the initial plan and coordinating its implementation. Product teams can be appointed to develop HACCP plans for specific products. An important aspect in developing these teams is to assure that they have appropriate training. Implementation of the HACCP system involves the continual application of the monitoring, record keeping, corrective action procedures and other activities as described in the HACCP plan.
In summary, maintaining an effective HACCP system depends largely on regularly scheduled verification activities. The HACCP plan should be updated and revised as needed. An important aspect of maintaining the HACCP systems is to assure that all individuals involved are properly trained so they understand their role and can effectively fulfill their responsibilities.