April 4, 2017

Building Out Your HACCP Plan with the 7 Principles

Written by SmartSense | Food Safety, HACCP

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a system designed to identify and prevent safety hazards during food production and distribution. It includes steps to avoid problems before they occur and correct deviations as soon as they are detected.


For a good introduction to HACCP, please read our previous blog post. You can also review the 5 Preliminary Tasks to get started on developing your own HACCP plan.


HACCP 7 Principles

Once your HACCP team has completed the five preliminary tasks, their next job is to apply HACCP’s Seven Basic Principles.


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1) Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Your HACCP team first identifies and evaluates food safety hazards that may occur at each stage of your operation. These hazards include any biological, chemical, or physical properties that make a food unsafe for human consumption. The goal of your analysis is two-fold:

  1. Determine the risks to the consumer from the identified hazards.
  2. Create preventive measures you can employ to control these hazards.

2) Identify the Critical Control Points

Your next step is to identify each Critical Control Point (CCP). A CCP is a step in your food process where a control can be applied. As a result, any potential hazard can be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.

3) Establish Critical Limits

A critical limit is the maximum or minimum value at which a hazard must be controlled at each CCP. Your team will set these values for key processing characteristics, such as temperature, time, and chemical level.

4) Establish Monitoring Procedures

To ensure that your company can take quick corrective action if a limit is unmet, the team institutes specific monitoring activities to confirm that hazards are under control at each CCP. These procedures include:

  • Designing a plan to assess how data will be recorded, reviewed and analyzed
  • Installing the appropriate measuring equipment at its proper location
  • Training employees to take measurements and document their observations
  • Creating an early warning that a critical limit has been exceeded
5) Establish Corrective Actions

In this step, the team decides what actions to take for any critical deviations from an established limit. These actions ensure that no product injurious to health enters commerce by:

  1. Regulating any adulterated product resulting from a loss of control
  2. Identifying the cause, eliminating it, and preventing its reoccurrence

6) Establish Record Keeping Procedures

This principle requires formal documentation demonstrating you’ve met the critical limits at each CCP. Records can include:

  • The hazard analysis and written HACCP Plan
  • Notes from monitoring the handling procedures at each CCP
  • Documentation of any and all necessary corrective actions

Good records help you to evaluate the system, show that work was conducted according to the approved plan, and demonstrate that your products comply with state and federal regulatory requirements.

7) Establish Verification Procedures

Verification is the final, critical component of your HACCP plan. The following procedures ensure that it is both adequate and working as intended.

  • Retain and review up-to-date records, identify trends, and audit flow diagrams.
  • Schedule visual inspections and maintenance for all measuring equipment.
  • Test end products to verify that controls are in place.
  • Report all corrective actions to management.

Important: Seek Expert Advice!

If your company lacks sufficient experience to identify hazards and set critical limits, it’s essential to identify external resources that can help you apply the 7 Principles to your HACCP plan.

Topics: Food Safety HACCP

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