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Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a process control system designed to identify and prevent microbial and other hazards in food production. The HACCP system is used at all stages of a food chain, from food production to packaging and distribution.

HACCP includes steps designed to identify food safety risks, prevent food safety hazards before they occur, and address legal compliance. The most important aspect of HACCP is that it is a preventive system rather than an inspection system of controlling food safety hazards. Prevention of hazards cannot be accomplished by end product inspection; controlling the production process with HACCP offers the best approach.

Seven Principles of HACCP Systems

When working on HACCP systems, Kestrel adheres to the seven principles articulated by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF):

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis. Plants determine food safety hazards and identify the preventive measures they can apply to control these hazards.
  2. Identify critical control points (CCPs). A CCP is a point in a food process at which control can be applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce a food safety hazard to an acceptable level. A food safety hazard is any biological, chemical, or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe for human consumption.
  3. Establish critical limits for each CCP. A critical limit is the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical hazard must be controlled to prevent, eliminate, or reduce it to an acceptable level.
  4. Establish CCP monitoring requirements. Monitoring activities ensure that the process is under control at each CCP. Each monitoring procedure and its frequency must be listed in the HACCP plan.
  5. Establish corrective actions. The final rule requires a plant’s HACCP plan to identify the corrective actions to be taken if a critical limit is not met. Corrective actions are intended to ensure that no product injurious to health enters commerce.
  6. Establish recordkeeping procedures. The HACCP regulation requires that all plants maintain certain documents, including a hazard analysis; written HACCP plan; and records documenting the monitoring of CCPs, critical limits, verification activities, and handling of processing deviations.
  7. Establish procedures for verifying the HACCP system is working as intended. Validation ensures that plans do what they are designed to do—ensure the production of safe product. Plants are required to validate their own HACCP plans. Verification ensures the HACCP plan is adequate and working as intended.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA, January 1998

Learn more about Kestrel’s HACCP Services.