November 22, 2017

Can You Tell the Difference Between HACCP and HARPC?

Written by SmartSense

If you work in foodservice or food retail and have only a vague sense of the difference between HACCP and HARPC, you’re not alone. At first glance, HARPC requirements may look quite similar to HACCP, since they’re both food safety standards based on prevention. Where the plans differ is in execution. Let us clear up some of the confusion.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)

HACCP is administered by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) within the USDA to regulate meat, poultry, and egg processors. HACCP was designed by the NASA space program to ensure food safety for astronauts. By applying a set of Critical Control Points (CCP), NASA required food suppliers to identify and eliminate critical failure areas from their food production systems.

12 Steps of HACCP

  1. Assemble the HACCP team.
  2. Describe the product.
  3. Identify the intended use.
  4. Construct a flow diagram.
  5. Conduct on-site confirmation of the flow diagram, and draw up the plant schematic.
  6. List all potential hazards associated with each step, conduct a hazard analysis, and consider any measures to control identified hazards.
  7. Determine Critical Control Limits.
  8. Establish Critical Limits for each CCP.
  9. Establish a monitoring system for each CCP.
  10. Establish corrective actions.
  11. Establish verification procedures.
  12. Establish documentation and record-keeping.

Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC)

HARPC is administered by the FDA. As a result of an increase in documented cases of foodborne pathogens affecting consumers, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in January 2011. This law mandates that HARPC be adopted as the regulatory standard for the food processing and services industries.

7 Steps of HARPC

  1. Assess the hazards.
  2. Institute preventative controls.
  3. Monitor effectiveness of the controls.
  4. Establish corrective action measures.
  5. Establish verification measures.
  6. Follow proper and required recordkeeping.
  7. Reanalyze the plan once every 3 years, or, when needed.

Hazard Versus Risk: The Primary Distinction

The primary difference between HACCP and HARPC lies in the distinction between the definitions of hazard and risk. A hazard is any contaminant that, when found in food, can potentially cause harm. If that hazard isn’t critical enough to actually induce illness, then its risk level is relatively low. One of the most crucial hazards for food processors is the potential for pathogens growing in processed food products.

Risk is the potential that a hazard will most probably cause illness. Risks associated with hazards are generally reduced by decreasing exposure to them. For food processors, the risks associated with the hazard of pathogens include:

  • The health risk of foodborne illness for consumers
  • The business risks to food processors and suppliers, including:
    • Bad public relations
    • Costs of litigation
    • Lost inventory, sales, and profits

Key Comparison Points



1. Is the preventative approach based on a standard, guideline, or set of laws?

Based on a guideline recommended by CODEX and NACMCF

Based on FSMA act and principally, the Final Rule for Preventative Controls for Human Food

2. What food safety risks are considered using the preventative approach?

Conventional - Biological, Chemical, and Physical

Beyond conventional risks for actual and potential safety hazards

3. What is the goal of the preventative approach?

To prevent, eliminate (or) reduce hazards to a safe level

Preventative controls that prevent or significantly minimize “known or reasonably foreseeable” risks

4. Who is primarily responsible for the development maintenance of the preventative plan?

Primarily, a competent HACCP coordinator with assistance from a multidisciplinary team.

Trained Preventative Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) as described by the FSMA Act

5. At what frequency is the preventative plan being reviewed by the facility?

At least once a year, or when required

At least once in 3 years, or when required

6. The plan is mandatory for what type of establishments?

For FDA and USDA mandated establishments, or when required for certification purposes

For all establishments along the food supply chain the serve U.S. consumers, unless exempted

7. The plan is excluded or exempted for what type of establishments?

Unless mandated or required for certification, HACCP is voluntary and GMPs are mandatory

Exemption list is provided by FDA, but this does not exempt facilities from following at least CGMPs

8. Who is the interested party here? For whom is the plan for?

Stakeholders: auditors, inspectors, and customers


9. What is the documented approach for making the preventative plan?

12 Steps of HACCP (includes 7 Principles)

7 Steps of Developing a HARPC Plan

Important Differences Between HACCP and HARPC

  1. HARPC shifts the focus from a reactive to a proactive approach to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness before they occur.
  2. HARPC is a U.S. law, while HACCP is a regulatory standard.
  3. HARPC applies mandatory science-based controls across the food supply chain (e.g., Process Controls, Food Allergen Controls, Sanitation Controls, Supply-Chain Controls, Risk-Based Preventive Controls). It also requires food processors to implement corrective actions.
  4. Perhaps the most significant difference, HARPC extends controls to a food processor’s entire supply chain. If your facility sells ingredients used in your customers’ products, then your facility is also regulated by the HARPC.

Reducing Exposure by Temperature Monitoring

Whether your facility is regulated by HACCP or HARPC (or both), temperature measurement of the foods being processed is crucial to preventing foodborne illness. Biochemists have documented that the most common pathogens cannot survive below standardized minimum temperatures. Food companies who adopt remote, continuous temperature monitoring during processing steps can reduce and eliminate hazards and risks to both consumers and the business itself. Ready to boost your food regulation compliance?

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