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When you say HACCP Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points what are you saying!

Hazard analysis and critical control points or HACCP  is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. One of leading items in Safety is CONTROLLING THE HAZARDS the purpose of this principle is to develop a list of hazards that likely to cause injury or illness if not effectively controlled.

This process involves two stages:

§ hazard identification, and

§ hazard evaluation.

During the first stage, a list is developed of the potential biological, chemical or physical hazards that may be introduced, increased, or controlled at each step in the production process.

Why YES it is used in the food industry world wide but can we learn from the practices to improve our company safety?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an internationally recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food.

A HACCP System requires that potential hazards are identified and controlled at specific points in the process. This includes biological, chemical or physical hazards. Any company involved in the manufacturing, processing or handling of food products can use HACCP to minimize or eliminate food safety hazards in their product.

Does its COMMON English terms match our current safety program such as:

  • Control (verb): To take all necessary actions to ensure and maintain compliance with criteria established in the HACCP plan.
  • Control (noun): The state wherein correct procedures are being followed and criteria are being met.
  • Control measure: Any action and activity that can be used to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
  • Corrective action: Any action to be taken when the results of monitoring at the CCP indicate a loss of control.
  • Critical Control Point (CCP): A step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
  • Critical limit: A criterion which separates acceptability from unacceptability.
  • Deviation: Failure to meet a critical limit.
  • Hazard: A biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.
  • Hazard analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards and conditions leading to their presence to decide which are significant for food safety and therefore should be addressed in the HACCP plan.
  • Monitor: The act of conducting a planned sequence of observations or measurements of control parameters to assess whether a CCP is under control.

How is this different in any way to your chemical programs at work?

In conducting the hazard analysis, wherever possible the following should be included:

  • the likely occurrence of hazards and severity of their adverse health effects;
  • the qualitative and/or quantitative evaluation of the presence of hazards;
  • survival or multiplication of microorganisms of concern;
  • production or persistence in foods of toxins, chemicals or physical agents; and,
  • conditions leading to the above.

Equal but not limited to Lead and Lag events; Monitoring is a planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a critical control point (CCP) is under control and to produce an accurate record for future use in verification.

Monitoring serves three main purposes:

§ It is essential to food safety management in that it facilitates tracking of the operation. If monitoring indicates that there is a trend towards loss of control, then action can be taken to bring the process back into control before a deviation from a critical limit occurs.

§ It is used to determine when there is a loss of control and a deviation occurs at a CCP. When a deviation occurs, an appropriate corrective action must be taken.

§ It provides written documentation for use in verification. Ideally, monitoring should be continuous, which is possible with many types of physical and chemical methods (i.e. temperature or pH levels). Most monitoring procedures need to be rapid because they relate to on-line “real time” processes and there will be no time for lengthy analytical testing.

Personnel responsible for the monitoring process are often associated with production (i.e. line supervisor, selected line workers), quality control or maintenance personnel. They must be trained in the monitoring technique for which they are responsible, fully understand the purpose and importance of monitoring, be unbiased in monitoring and reporting, and accurately report the results of the monitoring.

Corrective Actions and CHANGE MANAGEMENT or it is just deviations to correct the events!

Where there is a deviation from established critical limits, corrective actions are necessary. An important purpose of corrective actions is to prevent foods which may be hazardous from reaching customers. Therefore, corrective actions should include the following elements:

§ determine and correct the cause of non-compliance,

§ determine the disposition of non-compliant product, and

§ record the corrective actions that have been taken.

Specific corrective actions should be developed in advance for each critical control point and included in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. As a minimum, the HACCP plan should specify what is done when a deviation occurs, who is responsible for implementing the corrective actions, and that a record will be developed and maintained of the actions taken.

I saw, they did, we recorded for various reason and betterment! Verification is defined as those activities, other than monitoring, that determine the validity of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan and that the system is operating according to the plan. One aspect of verification is evaluating whether the HACCP system is functioning according to the written HACCP procedures. An effective HACCP system requires little end product testing, since sufficient validated safeguards are built in early in the process. Therefore, rather than relying on end product testing, firms should rely on frequent reviews of their HACCP plan, verification that the plan is being correctly followed, and review of critical control points, monitoring and corrective action records.

Another important aspect of verification is the initial validation of the HACCP plan to determine that the plan is scientifically and technically sound, that all hazards have been identified and that if the HACCP plan is properly implemented these hazards will be effectively controlled.

Information needed for validation of the HACCP plan often include:

§ expert advice and scientific studies and

§ in-plant observations, measurements, and evaluations.

Building a HACCP System

Prerequisite programs are programs that are put in place in the facility to control hazards in the environment, preventing contamination of the product. Prerequisite programs ensure a hygienic environment, and good manufacturing processes for personnel that reduce the risk of contamination of the food product.

HACCP is based on seven principles:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
  2. This is where you evaluate your processes and identify where hazards can be introduced. Hazards can be physical (i.e. metal contamination), chemical (i.e. can a cleaning product contaminate the product, are there toxins that could contaminate the product?) or biological (at what points could bacteria or virus contaminate your product?). You will need to make sure that you have the expertise to make an accurate evaluation of the hazards. This means that if you do not have sufficient expertise in your organization you will need to identify external resources that you can use to perform the hazard analysis.
  3. The hazard identification is done in two steps, first the identification of hazards, then an evaluation of the hazard. The hazard evaluation is a determination of the degree of risk to the user from the identified hazard. Once the hazard is identified and evaluated the team must identify critical control points. These are points where the hazard must be controlled or it will present a risk to the end user.
  4. Identify the Critical Control Points
  5. At what steps in your process can controls be applied to prevent or eliminate the hazards that have been identified? These are your critical control points. For each critical control point you will identify the preventive measure. How will you prevent the hazard?: Use of specific Temperature, ph, time, procedures?
  6. Establish a maximum or minimum limit for temperature, time, pH, salt level, chlorine level or other processing characteristic that will control the hazard. This is the critical limit for the CCP. If this limit is ever exceeded corrective action must be taken, and all affected product controlled.
  7. Establish Critical Limits
  8. Your next step is to establish criteria for each critical control point. What criteria must be met to control the hazard at that point? Is it a minimum temperature? Are there regulatory limits that you must meet for this control point?
  9. Establish Monitoring Procedures
  10. What will you measure and how will you measure it? You need to monitor the process at the critical control point and keep records to show that the critical limits have been met. Can you do continuous monitoring of the control point? If not, how often will the measurements need to be performed to show that the process is under control?
  11. The monitoring that takes place at the critical control points is essential to the effectiveness of the HACCP program. The monitoring program will be made up of physical measurement or observations that can be done in a timely manner, to provide the information in a time frame that allows you to take action and control product if an out of control situation occurs.
  12. Establish Corrective Actions
  13. You will establish what actions need to be taken if a critical limit is not met. This will be identified ahead of time for each CCP. The action must make sure that no unsafe product is released. There must also be an evaluation of the process to determine the cause of the problem and an elimination of the cause.
  14. The action or actions taken have two purposes, to control any nonconforming product resulting from the loss of control, and to identify the cause, eliminate it and prevent the situation from reoccurring. By identifying the corrective action before an out of control situation occurs, you are prepared to take action quickly if and when it does occur.
  15. Establish Record Keeping Procedures
  16. You will determine what records are needed to show that the critical limits have been met, and the system is in control. Address regulatory requirements and include records from the development of the system and the operation of the system.
  17. Establish Verification Procedures
  18. The HACCP plan must be validated. Once the plan is in place, make sure it is effective in preventing the hazards identified. Test the end product, verify that the controls are working as planned. Perform ongoing verification of the system. Are measuring and monitoring equipment in control? What are corrective actions showing? Are records being maintained as required?

It will reach beyond the control systems that we have discussed above and into how you plan and manage quality into your organization.

  • Global market place
  • Increasing incidents of food-borne pathogens
  • New pathogens emerging
  • Need to protect Brands, control risks
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