Tip Sheet 06 - HACCP Overview

The HACCP Food Safety Plan is the foundation of the site’s SQF System. The Food Safety Plan must be prepared using the Codex HACCP method, which means that all products and processes included in the SQF scope of certification must be addressed in one or more HACCP plans.

All HACCP principles and implementation steps must be included in the HACCP Food Safety Plan. The HACCP Plan must be fully developed by the site, meaning the site may use the services of an SQF consultant, but takes full responsibility for the HACCP plan.

Learning Objectives

  • Design a process that will ensure the safety of food being produced
  • Understand the process steps in the development of a basic HACCP plan

Applicable Code Elements

  • 2.9.4
  • 2.4.3

Key Terms

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)

A food safety program that assesses ways to control any potential hazards to the safety of the product throughout all process steps in production.

Control Point (CP)

A control point reduces or eliminates risks that are not as likely to pose a threat to the safety of the food being produced. An example of a Control Point could be hand washing.

Critical Control Point (CCP):

A critical point necessary for reducing or eliminating a potential food safety hazard. An example of a Critical Control Point could be a cooking step to kill any bacteria left.

Hazard Analysis:

An assessment used to measure the likeliness and severity of a potential risk or hazard.

Process Steps

HACCP encompasses 12 main steps. The first five steps begin to set the premises/outline for your HACCP plan and program. The remaining seven principles are to implement the action plan specific to the site. The twelve steps are as follows:

1. Step 1 Create the Food Safety Plan Team:

The food safety plan needs to be developed and maintained by a multidisciplinary team that includes the SQF practitioner and those site personnel with the technical knowledge of the relevant products and associated processes. If the site does not have the expertise on site, advice may be obtained from other sources to assist the food safety team.

2. Step 2 Define the Scope of the Food Safety Plan:

The food safety team will begin the food safety plan development by determining the scope of each food safety including the start and end-point of the processes under consideration and all relevant inputs and outputs into the development of the process.

3. Step 3 Describe the Product:

The food safety team will then document product descriptions for all products included in the scope of the food safety plans. Be sure to reference the finished product specifications and any additional information relevant to product safety, such as pH, water activity, and/or composition.

4. Step 4 Describe the Intended Use:

The food safety team will then describe the intended use of each product. Things such as the target consumer groups, the potential for consumption by vulnerable groups of the population, requirements for further processing if applicable, and potential alternative use of the product must all be considered and documented.

5. Step 5 Develop and Confirm the Flow Diagram:

The food safety team will then describe and document a flow diagram that addresses the product and process of each product in the scope of the food safety plan. Be sure to include every step in the process, all raw material, packaging material, and service inputs (e.g. water, steam, gasses as appropriate), scheduled process delays, and all process outputs including waste and rework. Confirm each flow at all stages of the process and on every shift to be sure it is truly representative.

6. Step 6 Conduct a Hazard Analysis:

Next, the food safety team will conduct a hazard analysis for every identified hazard, to determine which hazards are significant, i.e. their elimination or reduction to an acceptable level is necessary to ensure food safety. The team must be sure to document the methodology used for determining hazard significance and used consistently to assess all potential hazards.

First, the food safety team will need to identify and document all food safety hazards that can reasonably be expected to occur at each step in the processes for the product, making sure to address raw materials and any other inputs.

Once all the potential hazards have been identified, they are evaluated per the risk they pose, considering the likelihood that something will occur, and the severity if it does occur. Many organizations use a diagram to evaluate risk, with rows and columns corresponding to the likelihood that something will occur, and the severity if it does occur.

7. Step 7 Identify the Critical Control Points:

Based on the results of the hazard analysis, the food safety team will next identify the steps in the process where some form of food safety control must be applied to eliminate the identified significant hazards or reduce it to an acceptable level. Control measures must be in place for all identified significant hazards.

8. Step 8 Define the Critical Limits:

For each identified CCP, the food safety team will next identify the limits that separate safe from unsafe product. Each critical limit must be validated to ensure it is adequate to control of the identified food safety hazard. Critical limits and control measures individually or in combination must be able to effectively provide the level of food safety control required.

9. Step 9 Develop Monitoring Procedures:

Next, the food safety team will develop and document procedures to monitor CCPs to ensure they remain within the established limits. Make sure to identify the personnel assigned to monitor procedures and the frequency of when they need to conduct it.

10. Step 10 Define Corrective Actions: The next step is for the food safety team to develop procedures for when monitoring indicates a loss of control at a CCP. The procedures must outline actions to take to correct the process step to prevent recurrence of the food safety failure.

11. Step 11 Implement and Verify the Plan: When finished, the documented food safety plan is then implemented in full. The food safety team must monitor the implementation process, and a full review of the documented and implemented plans must be conducted at least annually, or when changes to the process, equipment, inputs or other changes affecting product safety occur.

12. Step 12 Develop and Document the Recordkeeping Procedures:

The food safety plan development team must identify and document in the Food Safety Plan the documents and documentation created in support of the food safety plan. The food safety plan development team will also identify records to show the objective evidence collected demonstrates that:

  • each preventive measure has been correctly applied;
  • the critical limits have not been exceeded;
  • the monitoring procedures have been followed; and
  • where there has been a deviation, the corrective action has been effectively implemented.

Accurate record-keeping and documentation proves that safety requirements were met.

Relevant Resources

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