HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) is the main way that almost all Countries in the world use to ensure safer food from our food producing factories and, since 2006, our restaurants, pubs, hotels and other catering businesses. Yet, ignorance prevails throughout the UK and the world on what HACCP is really all about. Even our auditing and inspection organisations have widely different views as to what how it is to be implemented.
HACCP is based on seven principles which effectively state that for any food preparation process we should firstly map out a process flow diagram of the steps involved in making the food. Then, for each process step, we look carefully at the things that could go wrong that might result in the consumer becoming ill or being injured, e.g. the growth of harmful bacteria in the food due to the temperature being too high.At this stage we then do some risk analysis to assess if the risk is significant or not and if it is we then identify a control measure for the hazard. Having identified a significant hazard we now proceed to implement a control measure and then decide if the hazard is a CCP (Critical Control Point) or not.
A CCP is basically a hazard that if NOT CONTROLLED would make people ill or cause them injury. If we identify the hazard as a CCP then we must set critical limits, e.g. Temperature 1-5oC along with a monitoring procedure and corrective action to be implemented if the critical limits are breached.
So if we look at it HACCP is a logical process that takes us through the process of:
1. Identification of hazards for a given process
2. Decide if each hazard is a significant risk or not
3.If significant implement a means of controlling the hazard
4. Decide if the hazard is critical to food safety
5. Set levels that are safe for the hazard
6. Implement monitoring
7. Decide on what corrective action to take if the levels are breached
HACCP is easy to explain in terms of an everyday task such as driving your car. If you think of the process of driving down the road. A number of hazards may present themselves, it may be wet or icy outside and these mean that the risk of skidding is higher than normal. Therefore the hazard would be 'Crash the car due to icy conditions' . If the road is very icy then the risk would be high and therefore we would want to have a control measure to prevent us crashing. The control measure would be 'Drive slowly and carefully.'
If we look at the consequences of crashing we could be killed and therefore we have to say this would be Critical and is therefore a CCP (Critical Control Point). We might decide that it is safe to drive in these conditions at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour; this would be our critical limit. Our monitoring procedure would be to keep an eye on the speedometer to ensure we do not exceed 10 mph. The corrective action is to gently apply the brakes until we are within the speed limits set.
The above demonstrates that HACCP (or at least the principles of it) is something that we all do naturally every single day of our lives (even without thinking of it!) and yet, as soon as we need to consciously apply these same principles to food safety many have difficulty with it.
This process can be daunting to those who have not been trained in HACCP and this is where HACCP Software can help. There are several software solutions around that will give the basics but what most people need is a system that provides:
1. A framework that guides you through the process above
2. Built in training in HACCP that makes sense and is explained in easy to understand terms
3. A built in knowledge base of hazards, control measures, critical limits, monitoring procedures and corrective actions.
The software should come with ongoing support, training and be regularly updated to reflect the ongoing changes in legislation and HACCP.
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