HACCP is a preventative approach to food safety that focuses on identifying and controlling potential hazards throughout the food production process. There are seven principles of HACCP that every restaurant owner should know. By understanding and following these principles, you can help keep your customers safe and reduce the risk of costly foodborne illness outbreaks.

What does HACCP stand for?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. It is an internationally recognized method of identifying and managing risks related to food safety. The acronym HACCP refers to specific points in the process where critical control points are identified and appropriate measures are taken to ensure food safety. A properly designed and implemented food safety program can give regulatory agencies, the general public, and your customers’ confidence that your operations are being run correctly.

HACCP Principles

Steps to develop a HACCP plan

There are five key preparatory measures you must take before you can even begin to develop a HACCP plan for your food business. These initial steps will help set you on the path to success and ensure that your HACCP plan is thorough and well-rounded.

  1. Get your HACCP team together.

    The first step is to create the HACCP Team. The HACCP team should be comprised of members from different disciplines and professions. The team should include members from the following professions; engineering, production, sanitation, quality control, and food microbiology

  2. Describe the product

    The HACCP team starts off by providing a general overview of the food, its ingredients, and its preparation methods. The distribution method and whether the food will be served at room temperature, cold temperature, or frozen should also be specified. This information will facilitate the identification of potential hazards and subsequently the implementation of controls to mitigate them.

  3. Establish the Audience and the Intended Use

    Describe your typical usage of the food. The target audience may be the general public or a particular demographic. For example, foods targeted towards infants and young children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems will have different hazards than those targeted toward healthy adults.

  4. Create a flowchart to illustrate the process

    All the steps in the process that are directly under the establishment’s control should be outlined in a clear, concise manner in the flow diagram. This includes all ingredients being used as well as any processing steps involved in producing, preparing, and packaging foods.

  5. On-Site Confirmation of the Flow Diagram

The HACCP team should review the operation on-site to ensure that the flow diagram is accurate and comprehensive, and it should be modified as necessary. The next seven HACCP principles are implemented after the first five preliminary tasks have been finished.

What are the 7 HACCP principles?

HACCP is a food safety system that helps identify and manage risks. After completing the five initial steps in the HACCP plan, you’re ready to move on to the next seven steps. These steps involve identifying and assessing potential biological, chemical, and physical dangers that could contaminate food. By following these guidelines, food handlers can ensure that food safety compliance.

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.

The first step in HACCP is to identify potential food safety hazards. This includes anything that could make the food unsafe to eat, such as biological (e.g. bacteria), chemical (e.g. cleaning products), or physical (e.g. metal shards) hazards. Once you’ve identified the potential hazards, you can develop controls to prevent or mitigate them.

Principle 2: Determine the critical control points (CCPs).

A critical control point (CCP) is a point in the food production process where a hazard can be controlled. For example, cooking meat to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit is a CCP that controls the biological hazard of bacteria.

A successful CCP should lower the risk by getting rid of potentially contagious bacteria, parasites, toxins, and allergens from foods before consumers consume them. 

Principle 3: Establish critical limits.

In order to know whether a process served its purpose in maintaining food safety, regulatory standards must be set. In the food industry and the context of HACCP principles, these standards are termed critical limits. These limits and criteria for food safety are established based on scientific literature and are usually presented in numerical values that dictate if you produced a safe product.

To determine if a food safety measure was effective, there must be predetermined standards in place. In the food industry, HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) dictates certain critical limits that must be met to ensure food safety. These standards are given as numeric value thresholds that show if a food item is safe to consume.

The FDA has outlined a series of measures that can be taken to prevent foodborne illness. These “critical controls” involve maintaining correct temperatures, ensuring food is cooked for the right amount of time, and checking solid contents, titratable acidity levels, moisture levels, and preservative levels. Water activity and salt concentrations are also important considerations.

Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.

Once you’ve identified the CCPs in your process, it’s important to set up a system for monitoring them. The guidelines and procedures for monitoring food safety typically involve maintaining a detailed record of your food service activities, identifying all areas of weakness, and documenting any instances of critical limit deviations that may occur.

Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.

If monitoring of the CCP indicates that it is not being effectively controlled, you need to take corrective action to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again in the future. This might involve adjusting cooking times or temperatures, changing suppliers, or increasing employee training on food safety procedures.

Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.

Verification is a process to determine that the preventive controls are working as intended. Verification can be done by company employees, government inspectors, or independent auditors. This might include periodic audits or reviews, laboratory testing of foods, or maintaining records of CCP monitoring and corrective actions taken.

Principle 7: Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

HACCP requirements dictate that all key steps, such as implementing the plan, creating the risk analysis, and conducting the food hygiene assessments be recorded. Additional paperwork such as employee training and management plans must also be kept organized. This documentation process is also necessary for periodic reviews to determine whether your team’s HACCP plan is still working.

The bottom line

By following these seven principles of HACCP, you can help ensure food safety in your restaurant and avoid costly foodborne illness outbreaks. Implementing a HACCP plan may seem like a lot of work, but it’s essential for keeping your customers safe and preventing potentially devastating consequences for your business.

When it comes to HACCP compliance, going digital is the way to go. There are several advantages of ditching pen and paper and digitizing your HACCP process. Here are just a few:

  1. You can plan and manage your daily operations more efficiently, with less room for error.
  2. There’s no way you can keep track of all the tiny details on paper – going digital ensures a higher level of safety.
  3. Your staff will be able to easily understand your food safety requirements and procedures with the help of visual aids and step-by-step guides.
  4. You’ll save time on new employee training by being able to quickly brief them on what they need to know.
  5. Digital tools help make sure your organization is always following HACCP guidelines and maintaining a high standard of service quality.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or migrating to a new system, the time is now to make the switch to a digital HACCP system. It’s a no-brainer if you’re looking to ensure food safety compliance.

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