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Eddie Wang
 |  October 23, 2019

What is HACCP?

7 Key Principles and Process Management Explained

Get the HACCP Inspections template

What is HACCP? | Principles and Process Management

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a globally recognized food safety management standard that requires businesses to apply guidelines, procedures, and principles to ensure food safety from raw material manufacturing right up to consumption. The U.S Food and Drug Administration organization (FDA) has outlined the HACCP protocol to be applied on all vital food process checkpoints to analyze and eliminate threats of any biological, chemical, or physical hazards at all times.  

chef in hotel kitchen  slice  vegetables with knife and prepare food

What makes a HACCP plan successful?

Before delving into HACCP’s seven principles, it is crucial to understand the foundations of a successful HACCP implementation. The first step is to have the support and commitment from upper management which then translates into a greater focus and priority on food safety down-the-line to employees.

Furthermore, employees may be required to undergo a series of prerequisite programs such as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and several others. Other program line-ups can include areas such as:

  1. Individual cleanliness
  2. Establishment of facilities
  3. Verification of qualified suppliers
  4. Material labeling guidelines
  5. Management of manufacturing equipment
  6. Cleaning standards and schedules
  7. Employee roles in the HACCP program
  8. Managing chemicals to prevent contamination
  9. Proper storage, transportation and handling of materials
  10. Tracing and recovery of products
  11. Prevention of pests

After accomplishing this, the company needs to settle five preparatory assignments before applying the seven principles to a HACCP plan.

Preparatory assignment one — Build the HACCP core team
The HACCP core team should be comprised of stakeholders with specialized experience related to the manufacturing system and the final edible product. Employees from fields such as operations, engineering, manufacturing, hygiene, science, quality assurance, and safety can be part of this team.

At times, this team may require external experts to step in for domain-specific knowledge. Even when this happens, the core members are require to work closely and take ownership of the HACCP plan.

Preparatory assignment two — Create a clear description on the food product and delivery
The food product is to be clearly detailed by the HACCP core team. Details can contain manufacturing procedures, ingredients, and types of food involved. The food delivery technique should inform whether the needs to be distributed at room temperature, chilled, or frozen.

Preparatory assignment three — Elaborate on the food product usage and its consumers
The HACCP team will need to make known the type of consumers involved: children, adults, patients, and so on. Also, they will need to mention how the product is to be consumed. 

Preparatory assignment four — Construct a flow diagram that explains the procedures
The intention of this flow diagram is to offer a brief idea on the stages to manage the HACCP plan process. The team is to include the areas where checkpoints are to be observed and handled. The simple graphical map can include the pre, during, and after production areas.   

Preparatory assignment five — Validate the flow diagram.
It is essential for the HACCP team to validate what is assembled in the flow diagram. This ensures the correctness of what is written. When amendments are required, the team can better jot down and manage changes that arise.

The Seven Principles of HACCP

Once the obligatory prerequisite programs and five preparatory assignments are completed, a firm is ready to administer a HACCP plan. As articulated by FDA, HACCP’s orderly approach is grounded by seven principles. These standards govern the identification, assessment, and management of food safety dangers.

Principle one: Put into action a hazard and risk analysis plan
Here is where the HACCP team assesses the manufacturing processes and circles out the risks as well as hazards. These threats can include chemical, metal, toxins and even biological contamination. It is very important that the team leverage top-notch expertise to identify these risks.

This hazard and risk assessment is finalized in two stages. First, the team must identify what can cause such hazards. Next, the team must determine the level of threat of the hazard. Once these two stages are completed, they can proceed to circle out the critical control points to be managed.

Principle two: Ascertain the critical control points (CCPs)
CCPs involve identification of areas in the production process in order to deter hazards from occurring. Hence, these are known as critical control points. The HACCP team must list ways to place deterrents to prevent risks from occurring. 

Principle three: Identify critical limits
After the CCPs are identified, the team must identify critical limits for maintaining healthy environments (e.g. chlorine, salt, acidity levels). If anything goes beyond what is the set normal levels, corrective actions will need to be implemented immediately.

Principle four: Put monitoring processes in place
This step contributes to the effectiveness of the HACCP program set. Monitoring processes can consist of automated or human observations in set time frames. Proper monitoring enables the team to act quickly when hazardous limits are reached. 

Principle five: Begin remedial arrangements.
For every CCP identified, the team needs to plan remedial steps. Corrective steps involve determining and solving the root cause of the issue. Strong preparation allows for rapid crisis management when hazardous contamination occurs.

Principle six: Establish verification procedures
After remedial arrangements are set up, the HACCP team can verify whatever has been set. This helps to ensure that the plan is in adherence to the HACCP system. With this principle, impartial independent authorities can step in to determine if the HACCP plan meets standards. 

Principle seven: Begin tracking and documenting steps
Finally, all processes and CCPs need to be tracked, stored, and easily traced in order to meet regulatory criteria. The team will need to determine what details are to be recorded.  To find out what is required to be included in this step, visit here.

How to Digitize HACCP Processes

If you've been tasked with implementing HACCP programs at your company, you want to explore digitizing your management processes. Once you have clarity on the processes you are running, you can incorporate different applications to run those processes more efficiently. 

Food manufacturers and distributors around the world are using AppSheet to build their own web and mobile apps without code to to keep their operations safe, efficient, and productive. 

We created a sample application for HACCP tracking. You can copy this HACCP app and get the underlying data and modify it to fit your process.

Copy the template

If you're interested in building your own HACCP management app, get started creating your app by starting directly from your own data using a standard spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheet, Excel on O365/Dropbox/Box, or Smartsheet). You can build your own functional app within just a few hours. Watch the video below for additional ideas on how to make an app!




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