Undoubtedly, food safety plays a huge role in the success of any food company. And HACCP is the perfect guide for any business that wants to take control of their food safety risks to ensure their customers are protected, and their reputation is intact.
What is HACCP? This is probably the first question that comes to many people’s minds when learning about food safety. Abbreviated as HACCP, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points is a trusted and recognized method of identifying and managing food safety risks in every stage of the food supply chain.
The main question being what is HACCP; it is also crucial to understand the principles of this procedure. Understanding HACCP principles makes it easier for business owners to manage safety risks in their food companies.
The first principle is to conduct a hazard analysis to identify the potential safety risks in the company setting. While at this, it is essential for business owners to assess all processes, from receiving goods to cooking foods, serving, and disposing of.
Companies should also understand the different types of safety hazards, including biological, physical, and chemical contaminations. Understanding this will help them decide the best control measures.
Identifying Critical Control Points
After identifying the possible food safety risks, businesses should establish the critical control points, also referred to as CCPs. Ideally, these areas where control measures can be put to prevent, remove and reduce hazards.
This principle aims to help businesses reduce the spread of food-borne diseases by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Moreover, it prevents cross-contamination between foods by ensuring that control measures are only applied at the right points.
Determining Critical Limits
HACCP sets the acceptable levels for hazard control. It will help to establish the minimum and maximum value for which biological, physical or chemical safety hazards must be controlled to reduce risks to acceptable levels.
The measurable critical points include time, temperature, acidity, and expiry dates. They must assign actual values to these points. Setting the values can be challenging, especially since different hazards have varying acceptable limits, but the principle plays the hugest role in eliminating food poisoning.
Monitoring Critical Control Points
As mentioned, assigning critical points values can be challenging considering the different acceptable limits. This is why businesses should monitor the critical points to ensure the foods remain within the limits while maintaining safety.
There are four classifications of critical control points monitoring. The first one is observation monitoring which includes checking the cleaning schedule and delivery checklists. The other one is sensory monitoring, which entails using smell and touch senses to confirm that the food is within the critical limits.
Food companies may also try chemical monitoring to check the acidity levels of the food and physical monitoring to determine food pressure, temperature, and weight.
Establishing Corrective Actions
Corrective measures are put in place if there is a digression from the critical limit. It would be best for companies to outline preventative and immediate corrective actions to help them respond to issues before escalating.
Some examples of immediate corrective actions are throwing out spoilt or contaminated foods, rejecting good deliveries with signs of contamination, and refrigerating foods to prevent them from reaching the temperature danger zone. On the other hand, preventative measures include training employees on the best food safety practices and regular equipment maintenance.
Any corrective actions done should be recorded for later reference.
HACCP requires food companies to record hazard analysis details and any corrective measures taken in the food company. The essential day-to-day records to facilitate an effective food safety plan include;
- Cleaning schedules
- Delivery checklists
- Pests’ inspections and the findings
- Any employee training records
- Temperature reports
The records should be compiled to make a food safety plan accessible by all employees. The plan should outline each employee’s responsibilities, when they should carry them out, and who to report to in case of issues.
Determining Verification Procedures
Creating a Food Safety Plan is the most effective way to ensure everyone plays their role in food safety. However, each step requires testing and changes here and there. The plan is a living document that should never stay as it is.
From time to time, food companies should perform audits on the plan, which could be done annually, and make improvements where necessary. For each audit, companies should consider if they have included any new products or tweaked the recipes and whether they have made any changes to the food safety regulations that will affect operations. Such amendments call for a Food Safety Plan adjustment to ensure seamless operations.
What Are the Benefits of HACCP?
Other than ensuring food safety, following HACCP principles has a ton of benefits to businesses, including;
Helps Businesses Save Money
One of the reasons businesses consider following HACCP principles is that they help companies save money in the long run. For starters, HACCP follows the principle of record-keeping, which promotes the effective use of resources, which is a great money saver.
Moreover, HACCP helps businesses identify safety problems and respond to them quickly before things get out of hand. Identifying issues early minimizes the time and resources needed to rectify the problem, and that’s precisely how HACCP works.
Save Business Reputation
Consumers will want to be associated with businesses that apply HACCP principles as they perceive them to be more trustworthy. There are minimal chances of poisoning customers, which boosts the company’s reputation.
HACCP Increases Safety Standards
Food-related companies cannot afford to compromise on safety and quality standards. There is no room for second-guessing on products directly affecting consumers’ health. A minor issue could result in significant losses if someone falls ill after consuming contaminated products. They may sue the company, and besides the money lost in the lawsuit, the case will ruin the company’s reputation.
HACCP ensures all products are safe for consumption. In return, this improves consumer satisfaction, thus more sales.
Compliance With the Law
Most states require food companies to follow HACCP principles; otherwise, they could face hefty fines and penalties. Complying with this law protects companies from penalties and lawsuits in case of consumer complaints. The company can use it as evidence that they did their part and the safety problem is not a case of negligence.