Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points is a method of quality control for the food industry. Food safety for the general public is important, since outbreaks of diseases like salmonella can wreak havoc. For HACCP to be effective, it has to started right at the farm and carried through to the table, whether in a home or in a restaurant. North Carolina State University has discussed the principles behind HACCP. By instituting the principles of HACCP, all involved with food can assure its safety.
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The first principle is analysis. A checklist has to be drawn up by the facility, and any ares of potential contamination must be identified and corrected. Analysis is not a quick and easy process. All areas must be inspected and corrective steps taken. For example, a restaurant must comply with its local health department regulations. If the analysis reveals any deficiencies, these must be corrected.
Identifying critical control points is the second principle. Critical control points are steps that must be applied to ensure food safety in critical areas. For example, a large milk processor has to ensure the machines are sanitised per health department guidelines. This is a CCP. It's critical that the processor sanitise the machinery to prevent contamination by pathogens.
The third principle is the establishment of limits. When the CCPs are identified, limits must be identified as well. For example, in a restaurant, refrigerated foods must be kept below a certain temperature, per health department regulations. This is a limit. If the food is allowed to warm, the limit is violated and corrective steps must be taken.
All the principles will not be effective unless continual monitoring is established. For example, regular health department inspections of a restaurant identified a corner that is constantly not being cleaned. Monitoring ensures that the corner is cleaned every night. Another example is how a bottling company of sauces must always monitor the sanitation of the machinery so the machinery is kept clean.
If a deficiency is found, action must be taken to correct the problem. It may be well and good to identify a problem area, but the entire HACCP system will be useless if action is not taken. An example would be when an oven is identified as being a problem, since it always breaks down and leaves food raw. HACCP is ineffective if nobody fixes or replaces the oven.
Keeping records is mandatory in the HACCP process. Accurate documented procedures must be formally written down, and a record of all the deficiencies found (and corrected) must be kept. North Carolina State University recommends a simple record-keeping system, as long as all the pertinent details are written down.
Verification is equally important. Verification provides a feedback loop to the people instituting HACCP and provides a benchmark as to what is working, and what is not. The main understanding is that HACCP is not a static process; it must be continuously enforced. Verification ensures the mandates are being acted upon.
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