Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic approach to identifying and controlling hazards (i.e. microbiological, chemical or physical) that could pose a danger to the preparation of safe food. HACCP involves identifying what can go wrong and planning to prevent it. In simple terms, to control the safety of ingredients and supplies coming into a food business and what is done with them thereafter.
Since 1998 it has been a legal requirement for all food businesses to have a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP. The European Communities Hygiene of Foodstuffs Regulation, 2000 (S.I. No. 165 of 2000) outline what is required by a food business. The proprietor/manager of a food business has a legal obligation to understand what the Hygiene of Foodstuffs Regulation demands and be able to explain how it has been applied in the food business. FSAI HACCP Strategy
The strategic goal is to bring about a significant increase in the number of food businesses that implement a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP by the end of 2004.
The FSAI has launched a joint HACCP campaign with the 10 Health Boards to encourage the food industry to enhance their food safety management standards, which in turn will further protect consumers from illness related to food. The campaign aims to facilitate an increase in the adoption of food safety management systems based on the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) within the Irish food industry and focuses on temperature control as one of the key control measures to ensure the production of safe food.
This initiative was developed following a baseline survey undertaken by the environmental health officers in the Health Boards of 1,000 food businesses (nursing homes, hospitals and hotels) nationwide which shows that of three food business types examined for HACCP compliance, the majority of premises had either started compliance or were found to be fully compliant.
An information pack with four leaflets has been produced by the FSAI for the industry and in tandem a national and trade print advertising campaign is being undertaken to communicate to food businesses the dangers of not complying with the legal requirements. The Benefits of HACCP to Food Businesses
HACCP provides businesses with a cost effective system for control of food safety from ingredients through production, storage and distribution to sale and service of the final consumer. The preventive approach of HACCP not only improves food safety management but also complements other quality management systems. The main benefits of HACCP are:
1.Saves your business money in the long run
2.Avoids you poisoning your customers
3.Food safety standards increase
4.Ensures you are compliant with the law
5.Food quality standards increase
6.Organises your process to produce safe food
7.Organises your staff promoting teamwork and efficiency
8.Due diligence defence in court.
Prerequisites (Safety Support Measures)
Before implementing HACCP, food businesses must already be operating to standards of good hygienic practice by having in place appropriate prerequisites (i.e. safety support measures). The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has produced sector specific Irish Standards (I.S.) to good hygienic practice. All food businesses are advised to use the appropriate standard for their sector (e.g. catering, retail, processing). Furthermore, a businesses management must give HACCP their full commitment. HACCP can then be used to control steps in the business which are critical in ensuring the preparation of safe food.
Prerequisites include where appropriate:
1.Cleaning and Sanitation
3.Personnel Hygiene and Training
5.Plant and Equipment
6.Premises and Structure
7.Services (compressed air, ice, steam, ventilation, water etc.)
8.Storage, Distribution and Transport
10.Zoning (physical separation of activities to prevent potential food contamination)
The (NSAI) have also produced a standard, I.S. 343: 2000 which outlines a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP.
Getting Started (Pre-Planning)
Once the prerequisites are in place you can begin to build HACCP on top of these. The first things to do are:
1.Train staff and perhaps hire a consultant to help in developing the HACCP system
2.Depending on the size of the business assemble staff into a small team, with a team leader to lead in designing and implementing HACCP. The team of people should have a good knowledge of your business. Initially, your team will be required to spend a reasonable amount of time and effort to develop and implement the HACCP system
3.Describe your product(s) and the intended use by consumers and then depending on the size of the business draw up a flow diagram to show each step of your operation. Walk through your operation to confirm that the diagram is correct and check that it covers all the foods your business produces.
Now you are ready to apply the principles of HACCP.
Principles of HACCP
There are seven principles of HACCP on which a food safety management system is based. 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. 1.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. Salmonella in a chicken product (biological hazard), detergent in a chicken product (chemical hazard) or a piece of glass in a salad (physical hazard).
2.Determine the critical control points (CCPs) Identify the points in your operation that ensures control of the hazards e.g. Cooking burgers to a minimum of 70°C for 2 minutes will kill E. coli O157 and other pathogens.
3.Establish critical limit(s) Set limits to enable you to identify when a CCP is out of control e.g. the temperature at the centre of a beef product following cooking must reach a minimum 70°C for 2 minutes.
4.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 use e.g. recording the final cooking temperature and time for a cooked chicken product.
5.Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under control When monitoring indicates that a CCP is not under control, corrective action must be taken e.g. the temperature of the food in a refrigerator rises to 10°C due to a technical fault. Discard the food and repair the refrigerator using the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the correct temperature of 5°C is achieved.
6.Establish procedures for verification to confirm the HACCP system is working effectively Review and correct the system periodically and whenever you make changes to your operation e.g. microbiological analysis of a chicken product to verify that it is free of Salmonella bacteria before and after cooking.
7.Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application For the successful implementation of HACCP, appropriate doumentation and records must be kept and be readily available. It is unrealistic to operate HACCP or to 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 e.g. cooking temperatures, delivery or cleaning records.
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