HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a food safety quality control system which encompasses the entire food supply chain from raw material production to sourcing and handling, manufacturing and distribution and eventually preparation and consumption of the final product. HACCP aims to eliminate root causes of food contamination whether they be biological, chemical or physical in nature or due to faulty or absent procedures.
HACCP involves 7 principles:
Analyse hazards: Potential hazards associated with food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazards could be biological e.g. a microbe; chemical such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.
Identifying critical control points: These are points in a food’s production process 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;
Establish preventative measures with critical limits for each control point. For cooked food for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.
Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored;
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;
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;
Establish effective recordkeeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazard and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge; for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling food borne pathogens.