Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP)

Traditionally, industry and rTraditionally, industry and regulators have depended on spot-checks of manufacturing conditions and random sampling of final products to ensure safe food. This approach, however, tends to be reactive, rather than preventive, and can be less efficient than the new system.

The new system is known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP (pronounced hassip). Space-age technology designed to keep food safe in outer space may soon become standard here on Earth!

HACCP involves seven principles:

  1. Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.

  2. Identify critical control points. These are points in a food’s production—from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer—at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.

  3. Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.

  4. Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.

  5. Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met — for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.

  6. Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly — for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.

  7. Establish effective record-keeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling food-borne pathogens.