What is HACCP and Why it is Important?

What is HACCP?- Hazard analysis & critical control point is a process control system designed to identify & prevent microbial & other hazards in food production.

It incorporates steps designed to prevent issues before they happen & to correct deviations as soon as they are detected such preventive control systems with documentation & verification are widely known by scientific authorities & international organizations as the most effective approach available for producing safe food.

HACCP implies a systematic approach to the assessment of Hazard Identification and Evaluation during each phase, raw material purchase, manufacturing, distribution, usage of food products & defining the evaluation of hazard control.

In doing so, then many drawbacks prevalent in the inspection approach are avoided & HACCP overcomes the shortcoming of reliance only on microbial testing.

HACCP makes ready the producers, processors, distributors, exporters, etc, of food products to utilize technical resources efficiently & in a cost-effective manner in assuring food safety. Food inspection too would be more systematic & therefore hassle-free. It would no doubt involve the deployment of some additional finances initially but these would be more than compensated in the long run through consistently better quality & hence better prices & returns.

As a member of WTO, India is a signatory to the sanitary & phytosanitary agreement & hence has to adopt for international trade, the standards, guidelines & recommendations issued by the Food Hygiene Committee of the joint FAO.

WHO codex Alimentarius Commission which advocates the adoption of HACCP. Industries in the countries exporting to WHO member nations would now have /to adopt HACCP, from the date specified by each importing country.

The Indian standard on food hygiene hazard analysis & critical control point system & guideline for its application, IS15000:1998 is technically equivalent to the above mention codex document.

For the food industry in India, the adoption of HACCP is becoming imperative to reach global standards and demonstrate compliance with regulation /customer requirements besides providing safer food to our millions.

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HACCP is so important because of it:

  • Prioritizes and controls possible hazards in food production.
  • Controlling major food risks, like microbiological, chemical, and physical contaminants.
  • Provides the bodywork to produce foods safely and to prove they were produced safely.
  • Focuses on prevention and control of possible food safety hazards rather than inspection.
  • Covers all types of possible food safety hazards whether they are naturally happening in the food, contributed by the environment, or originated by a
    mistake in the manufacturing process. Hazards such as Biological hazards (e.g. bacteria, viruses), Chemical hazards (e.g. pesticide residues, and
    mycotoxins), and Physical hazards (e.g. metal, glass).
  • Various clients in the food chain required their suppliers to have certified HACCP systems.
  • Provide businesses with a cost-effective food chain system for control of the food safety chain, from integrant right through to production, storage, and distribution to sale and service of the final consumer.

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Benefits of HACCP:

  • The preventive approach of HACCP-based procedures not only improves the food safety management system but also accompaniment other quality
    management systems. The main benefits of HACCP-based procedures are:
  • Conserve your business money in the long run
  • Avoids you poisoning your customers
  • Food safety standards increase
  • Ensures you are compliant with the law
  • Food quality standards increase
  • Organizes your process to produce safe food
  • Organizes your staff promoting teamwork and efficiency
  • Due diligence defense in court.
  • Reduce contamination.
  • Reduce recall /product destruction.
  • Provides market protection.
  • Provide preferred supplier status.
  • Demonstrate conformance to international standards & regulations & requirements of overseas markets.
  • Transforms commodities into branded products.
  • International acceptance.

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Steps of HACCP

  • Carry out an analysis of hazards that could occur during production.
  • Identify the points in the production process where hazards could potentially occur, and how they could be controlled or prevented. These are known
    as critical control points (CCPs).
  • Set up criteria that must be met to prevent hazards at each CCP, based on government guidelines where appropriate.
  • Set requirements for monitoring CCPs, and define the devices or materials to be used to monitor them.
  • Establish the correct course of action to take if CCP limits are breached, to make sure no hazard occurs.
  • Put in place a way of keeping records to document the HCCP system, including verification and deviation records.
  • Establish methods of verifying the HACCP system is working as it should, such as regular reviews of the plan, records, and limits, and carrying out sampling.

A HACCP plan should be based on the following seven steps:

Principles of HACCP

A food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP will valid hazards to be identified and controlled before they intimidate the safety of food and your customers. There are 7 principles of HACCP:

  • Identify the hazards – Look at each step (like purchasing, delivery, storage, preparation, cooking, chilling, etc.) in your operation and identify what can go wrong. Examples like Salmonella in a cooked product due to cross-contamination with raw material (biological hazard), contamination of uncovered food with detergent(chemical hazard), or a piece of broken glass falling into an uncovered food (physical hazard).
  • Determine the critical control points (CCPs) – Identify the points in your operation that ensures control of the hazards example cooking raw material thoroughly will eliminate pathogens such as E. coli

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  • Establish critical limit(s) – Set limits to enable you to identify when a CCP is out of control example like when cooking burgers, the center of the burger must reach a minimum temperature of 75°C (or an equivalent time-temperature combination e.g. 70°C for 2 minutes) to ensure pathogens are eliminated.
  • Inaugurate a system to monitor control of the CCP – When Critical Control Points and critical limits have been identified it is important to have a way to monitor and record what is happening at each Critical Control Point. Typically monitoring will incorporate measuring parameters such as temperature and time. Anyway, 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 do example like probe refrigerated food to ensure that it is being maintained below.
  • Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular Critical Control Point (CCP) is not under control – When monitoring indicates that a Critical Critical Point (CCP) is not under control, corrective action must be taken example like, the temperature of the food in a refrigerator rises to 10°C due to a technical fault. Rejected the food and repair the refrigerator using the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the correct temperature of 5°C is achieved.
  • Establish procedures for verification/validation to confirm the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is working effectively – Review and correct the system frequently and whenever you make changes to your operation example when replacing an oven verify that the time/temperature settings in the new oven achieve the minimum safe cooking temperature for a particular dish by investigating the food.
  • Establish documentation regarding all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application – For the successful implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) based procedures, appropriate documentation and records must be kept and readily available. It is non-realistic to operate Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Plan (HACCP) based procedures or to demonstrate compliance with the current legislation without providing evidence such as written records. As with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) based procedures themselves, the complexity of the record-keeping will very much depend on the nature and complexity of the business. The objective should be to ensure control is maintained without generating excessive paperwork.

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