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Overview of HACCP Principles

Introduction to HACCP

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is a logical, scientific approach to controlling hazards in meat production.  HACCP is a preventive system assuring the safe production of food products.  The application of HACCP is based on technical and scientific principles that assure food safety.  An ideal application would include all processes from the farm to the table.  The principle of HACCP can be applied to production, meat slaughter and processing, shipping and distribution, food service and in home preparation.

HACCP is a systematic preventative system that uses common sense application of scientific principles.  The most important aspect of HACCP is that it is a preventative system rather than an inspection system of controlling food safety hazards.  Prevention of hazards cannot be accomplished by end product inspection, so controlling the production process with HACCP offers the best approach.  The application of HACCP is systematic because structured hazard analysis and implementation are provided.  The process is common sense in that each processor understands their operation and is best able to assess controlling the process.  HACCP is also science-based and so the controls that are placed in the process should be based on scientific information.

The HACCP system has two major components.  The HA of HACCP represents the logic in the hazard analysis which identifies the where and how of hazards.  The CCP of HACCP represents the critical control points that provide the control of the process and the proof of the control.  The end objective of HACCP is to make the product as safe as possible and to be able to prove that the product was processed as safe as possible.  This does not mean that HACCP provides 100% assurance of food safety to consumers, but does mean that a meat processing company is doing the best job possible for safe food production.

The assurance of safety comes from the process of identifying the hazards, establishing controls for the identified hazards, monitoring the controls and periodically verifying that the system works.

Hazards

HACCP focuses on three types of hazards; biological hazards, chemical hazards, and physical hazards.  Biological hazards are the type of hazards that receive the most attention in the HACCP system and also present the greatest risk of severity and occurance.  Biological hazards include hazards from pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts and molds.  Bacteria that receive the greatest attention in the United States include E. coli 0157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Staphylococus auerus, and Campylobacter.  Chemical hazards in meat products could result from mis-use of antibiotics in production, contamination with sanitizers or cleaning agents, or environmental contamination from hydrolic fluids.  Physical hazards are probably the most recognized by consumers as they usually find this hazard.  Glass, metal, and plastic are physical hazards that can occur in meat products.

History of HACCP

HACCP was developed by the Pillsbury Company while working on producing foods for NASA for use in space missions in early 1959.  NASA had concerns of food, particulary crumbs, in the space capsule in zero gravity and also food that was free of pathogens and biological toxins that Pillsbury addressed by the use of HACCP.  The concept of HACCP was first presented to the public in the 1971 National Conference on Food Protection.  At that time it was based on three principles.  In 1985, interest in HACCP was renewed when a subcommittee of the Food Protection Committee of NASA issued a report on microbiological criteria.  A National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods was formed and that committee published a report in 1992 that provided the framework for HACCP as we know it today.

The report by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Food listed the Seven Principles of HACCP.

    • Conduct a Hazard Analysis
    • Identify Critical Control Points (CCP)
    • Establish Critical Limits for CCP
    • Establish Monitoring Procedures
    • Establish Corrective Actions
    • Establish Recordkeeping Procedures
    • Establish Verification Procedures

These seven principles become the core of the systematic approach for the application of HACCP.

Developing a HACCP Plan

To start a HACCP system, a company must first write a HACCP plan.  Companies may use generic models as resources for developing a plant specific plan, however, the most useful and successful HACCP plans need to be developed from the very beginning from the plant that will use and implement the plan.  To develop a HACCP plan, a team of individuals from within the company, with some assistance from outside experts, conducts five preliminary steps and applies the seven HACCP principles.

The five preliminary steps are:

    1. Bring together the HACCP resources/assemble the HACCP team.
    2. Describe the product and its method of distribution.
    3. Develop a complete list of ingredients and raw materials used in the product.
    4. Develop a process flow diagram.
    5. Meet the regulatory requirements for Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's).

The seven HACCP principles are the most important steps in writing a HACCP plan.  The first two steps provide the foundation for the HACCP plan.  These two steps are essential since application of the other HACCP principles depend on the results of the hazard analysis.  The remaining five steps are the application steps of the HACCP plan and provide the structure for conducting the workings of the HACCP plan int he processing plant.

The seven principles of HACCP are:

    1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
    2. Identify Critical Control Points (CCP)
    3. Establish Critical Limits for CCP
    4. Establish Monitoring Procedures
    5. Establish Corrective Actions
    6. Establish Recordkeeping Procedures
    7. Establish Verification Procedures




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