HACCP stands for hazard analysis critical control points (pronounced 'hás-sip'). HACCP is a food safety management system that uses process controls to minimise food safety risks in the food processing industry. HACCP is a preventive food safety system that tries to reduce the risk of hazards getting into food products to an acceptable level. It does not eliminate risks altogether (Goodrich, Schneider and Schmidt, 2005).
Food safety and public health agencies recognise HACCP as the preferred tool for food safety assurance and improving regulatory food standards. Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture (FSIS-USDA) mandated HACCP in meat and poultry processing in 1996. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) later mandated HACCP for seafood and juices. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the incorporation of HACCP into international and national food legislation to improve food inspection efficiency (Riemann and Cliver, 2006).
HACCP was developed as a microbiological food safety system for astronauts at the beginning of the manned US space program. The Pillsbury Company, NASA and the US Army Laboratories at Natick pioneered the original system. At that time food safety systems were based on end-product testing. Ensuring full safety required testing 100 per cent of the product. The preventive food safety system was born to ensure high level of food safety without using the entire product (Mortimore and Wallace, 1998).
HACCP operates on seven principles (Goodrich, Schneider and Schmidt, 2005): 1) Conduct hazard analysis: identify potential hazards and develop measures to control them. 2) Establish critical control points (CCPs): CCPs are points in a process at which hazards can be controlled or eliminated. 3) Determine acceptable limit(s) for each CCP. 4) Establish systems to monitor each CCP. 5) Formulate corrective actions. 6) Establish verification procedures for the whole HACCP system. 7) Document procedures related to these principles.
Five tasks must be implemented before the application of the HACCP principles (Surak and Wilson, 2007): 1) Assemble a multidisciplinary, trained HACCP team. 2) Determine product lines and distribution channels that should be included in the HACCP plan. 3) Describe the intended use and consumers of products to help identify risk factors. 4) Develop the process flow diagram to ensure no safety hazard point has been overlooked. 5) Verify the accuracy of the diagram.
HACCP implementation can fail because of untrained personnel, non-participatory implementation, incomplete implementation of principles and lack of system adjustments for new hazards. HACCP is flexible and can be applied to other areas such as product quality; thus, food safety would not be sidelined by broadening HACCP's scope (Mortimore and Wallace, 1998).