If you run a food business or are thinking of starting one, you will know how important it is to ensure the food items you produce and sell are safe. To do this, you need to follow the principles of HACCP. It’s a food safety management system that reduces the likelihood of you harming your customers and helps you comply with the law.
In this blog, we will explain what HACCP stands for, look at all seven principles and help you understand why following them benefits your food business.
What Is HACCP?
HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. Quite a mouthful! It’s a food safety management system. Although it may initially seem daunting (many health and safety processes do), it helps food businesses assess significant risks to food safety.
Think of it as a risk assessment for food. It helps identify hazards and evaluate and control risks.
What HACCP Involves
Just like when you carry out a general risk assessment, there are things you need to take into consideration:
- What you do, what could go wrong, what risks could your customers be exposed to
- What critical control points do you need to focus on to remove or reduce identified risks to a safe level
- What action will you take if something goes wrong
- How you will ensure your food safety procedures are followed
- How you will check your processes are actually working
- How and where will you keep records of your HACCP system
Every food business is different. Whether you sell hot food at a street food market or serve hungry customers at your standalone restaurant or workplace canteen, your HACCP system must be appropriate for your business.
What Is A Food Hazard?
A food hazard is anything that may cause harm when consumed. As a food business, you must identify the stages where hazards could be present in your processes. Once identified, you can remove or reduce them to a safe level.
The three main food safety hazards are:
- Microbiological – harmful bacteria
- Chemical – chemical contamination
- Physical – objects found in food products
Identifying hazards helps reduce the risk of people falling ill after eating something they got from you. It also prevents you from throwing out food, even before it gets to a supplier or consumer, if you discover it is unfit for consumption.
Why Is HACCP Important for Your Food Business?
We don’t want to be made unwell or injured when we consume food. We want to enjoy it. Safety must be on your high-priority list as a food business or a business that offers food to clients, customers or even employees. So, implementing a food safety management system, like HACCP, is crucial.
HACCP reduces the risks to those who consume your food products. This means happier, returning customers, fewer complaints and bad reviews. It also reduces the likelihood of recalls of products that are unfit for consumption. Recalls result in financial losses.
Following a strict system is the best way to comply with food safety laws.
Implementing HACCP principles takes time and careful examination of all steps in your food-making processes, but the benefits are worth the effort.
What Are The 7 Principles of HACCP?
There are seven fundamental principles to HACCP. Let’s take a look at each of them:
1 – Conduct a Hazard Analysis
As mentioned before, this is like carrying out a general risk assessment. You are looking at all your processes and procedures to identify hazards that could pose a risk.
List out your hazards in order of severity and how likely they are to occur. You want to consider the consequences of what would happen if each hazard remained unchecked.
2 – Determine Critical Control Points
A critical control point (CCP) is the final point of intervention. It’s also known as a ‘kill’ step. This is your last chance to eliminate or reduce hazards to an acceptable level. Loss of control at this point would lead to an unacceptable risk.
For instance, a critical control point could be where a specific temperature needs to be reached/maintained, for example, during the pasteurisation of milk.
3 – Establish Critical Limits
You know your CCPs now; you must establish the critical limits. Critical limits are the range of minimum and maximum biological, chemical and physical factors at a CCP that must be controlled.
To work these limits out, you must know what makes a product go from safe to unsafe. It could be anything from pH values to temperature.
4 – Establish Monitoring Procedures
You need to monitor your procedures to know whether the CCPs and control limits are under control. Monitoring needs to be consistent and continuous to prevent anything going wrong. Just one small error or slip can lead to disastrous consequences.
5. Establish Corrective Actions
This principle concerns what you do if a critical limit has been breached. What plan do you have in place to correct things? How do you make things safe and prevent this from happening again? You must also have a way to record what went wrong and what you did to rectify things.
6 – Establish Verification Procedures
Verifying that your food management system actually works is done by regularly reviewing it. You can do this by conducting an audit or stress-testing your processes. Putting your system to the test can identify areas where more work may be needed to make your system as airtight as possible.
7 – Establish Documentation
HACCP requires you to keep accurate records of each stage of your safety system. Record keeping is essential. You can include many things, including:
- Daily, weekly and monthly checklists
- Procedures for removing physical contaminants
- Temperature charts
- Pest control reports
- Cleaning schedules
Appetite for More?
Is your brain hungry for more food safety knowledge? Training on food safety puts you and your workers on the right track. Our tasty level 2 food hygiene course provides everything you need to know to get started. Learn about what causes food to become unsafe, foodborne diseases, how to control hazards and maintain good hygiene practices.
Our e-learning courses are tailored to people on the go, so you can access them wherever you are, whenever convenient. So, grab a snack and tuck in!