HACCP Principles
3 min

Understanding Food Safety with GHP and the Seven Principles of HACCP

Posted by: Helen Chin Date: 17 May 2024

In the fast-growing food industry, the assurance of product safety and quality remains a top priority. The escalating consumer demand for a broader array of foods has given rise to interconnected yet intricate and extensive food supply chains. This dynamic landscape requires the establishment of new globally aligned food safety standards to uphold the integrity of food supply chains and facilitate the seamless movement of food products across borders.

One highly effective and globally recognised system for achieving this is implementing Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). It is a systematic and science-based approach to food safety that addresses biological, chemical, and physical hazards throughout the food chain from primary production to final consumption.

This approach focuses on seven HACCP principles for food safety and control measures for significant hazards rather than relying only on end-product inspection and testing. A food business should only implement HACCP once it has established solid prerequisite programs of food safety management, such as good hygiene practices (GHP).

The History of HACCP 1

  • The HACCP concept originated in the 1960s, when the Pillsbury Company, NASA, and the US Army developed a system to ensure the microbiological safety of foods for space travel.
  • Over the next 50 years, the food industry increasingly adopted HACCP, recognising its usefulness for moving away from end-product testing to a proactive, preventive food safety control system.
  • Motivated to improve food safety, many large trading blocs now require national and exporting food businesses to have in place food management systems that apply the seven principles of the HACCP system.

Over the years, governments and food businesses have gained a wealth of experience in the application of GHP/HACCP, and many lessons have been learned.

Good Hygiene Practices (GHP)

Prerequisite programs are fundamental foundations for implementing HACCP principles effectively. These programs ensure a hygienic and safe environment for food production by addressing basic operational and sanitation requirements.

The inadequate implementation of prerequisite programs may lead to more CCPs being monitored due to the inclusion of hygiene aspects. This underscores the importance of prioritising. It can be overwhelming for the food safety team to manage effectively and increase the risk of oversight.

It is, therefore, crucial for facilities to have robust training and support systems in place to ensure that personnel are equipped to implement and maintain the HACCP system effectively.

Examples of the GHP Program

  • Facilities: The establishment should be located, constructed, and maintained according to sanitary design principles. Linear product flow and traffic control should be implemented as these are essential strategies to minimise the risk of cross-contamination in food processing facilities.
  • Production Equipment: All equipment should be constructed and installed according to sanitary design principles. Preventive maintenance and calibration programs should be established and documented.

    Malfunctioning equipment can lead to production delays, product defects, and safety hazards. By conducting routine inspections, cleaning, and repairs, the risk of equipment failures and associated contamination risks can be minimised.
  • Cleaning and Sanitation: All procedures for cleaning and sanitation of the equipment and the facility should be written and followed. A master sanitation schedule should be in place.

    Effective cleaning and sanitation programs prevent the introduction of pathogens, allergens, and foreign materials from food contact surfaces, equipment, and the environment into food products.
  • Personal Hygiene: All employees and non-operations personnel who enter the manufacturing plant should follow the requirements for personal hygiene.

    By maintaining high standards of personal hygiene, food processing facilities can reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness outbreaks and protecting public health.
  • Training: All employees should receive documented training in personal hygiene, GHP, equipment maintenance, their role in the HACCP program, and other critical aspects of food handling and processing.
  • Chemical Control: Procedures should be in place to ensure the segregation of non-food chemicals from areas where food is handled, processed, or stored. Designate separate storage areas for non-food chemicals to prevent cross-contamination risk.

    These include cleaning chemicals and pesticides or baits used in or around the plant
  • Receiving, Storage, and Shipping: All raw materials, packaging materials and products should be stored under sanitary conditions and the proper environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, to ensure their safety and wholesomeness.
  • Traceability and Recall: All raw materials and products should be lot-coded and a recall system should be in place so that rapid and effective recalls can be done when a product retrieval is necessary.
  • Pest Control: Effective pest control programs should be in place to protect product integrity by preventing damage and contamination caused by pests.

12-Steps for the Application of HACCP Principles

Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) consists of SEVEN PRINCIPLES for food safety and is typically described in 12 essential steps.

12 Steps for HACCP


The SEVEN Principles of HACCP

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis and identify control measures

List all potential hazards that are likely to occur and associated with each step, conduct a hazard analysis to identify the significant hazards, and consider any measures to control identified potential hazards.

If a HACCP team were to conduct a hazard analysis for the production of frozen cooked meat patties, pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, Escherichia coli) in the raw meat would be identified as hazards. Cooking is a control measure that can be used to eliminate these hazards by ensuring core food temperatures stay above 75oC as per SFA Good Food Safety Practices. In simpler words, cook your food well.

Principle 2: Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs)

A Critical Control Point, or CCP, is a step in the food production process where control can be applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce a food safety hazard to an acceptable level.

It can be useful to use a decision tree to determine CCP, such as reference from Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1-1969).

Examples of CCPs: thermal processing, chilling, and testing the products for metal contaminants, etc.

Principle 3: Establish validated critical limits

A critical limit is a maximum and/or minimum value to which a biological, chemical or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level the occurrence of a food safety hazard.

A critical limit is used to distinguish between safe and unsafe operating conditions at a CCP.

Examples of this include cooking food at high temperatures (above 75oC), maintaining a maximum pH of 4.6 to control Clostridium botulinum in acidified food, detecting metal fragments no larger than 1.0mm, etc.

Critical limits should be scientifically validated and are established based on scientific evidence, regulatory standards and guidelines, literatures, experimental results, and experts.

Principle 4: Establish a system to monitor the controls of CCPs

Critical control points are monitored through a scheduled measurement or observation of a CCP relative to its critical limits.

The monitoring method and frequency should make it possible to detect any failures before they fall outside the established critical limits so that affected products can be isolated and evaluated in a timely manner.

Personnel who monitor CCPs must be trained in the monitoring requirement, fully understand the purpose and importance of monitoring, procedures to follow when there is a trend towards loss of control, and immediately report a process or product that does not meet critical limits.

Principle 5: Establish the corrective actions

Corrective actions are necessary to follow up on deviation from established critical limits.

(a) Determine and correct the cause of non-conformance
(b) Determine the disposition of non-conformance product
(c) Record the corrective actions that have been taken

Correction and corrective actions to eliminate the identified cause should be developed in advance for each CCP and documented in the HACCP plan.

Principle 6: Validate the HACCP plan and then establish procedures for verification

Validation of the HACCP plan should occur before implementation and is an essential step to obtain evidence that the elements of the plan can control the significant hazards.

After validation, procedures should be established to verify that the HACCP plan is being followed on an ongoing basis. Here are some examples of verification activities:

  • Reviewing monitoring records to confirm that CCPs are kept under control
  • Calibrating or checking the accuracy of monitoring devices
  • Regular testing to verify product safety, for example, for microorganisms (pathogens or their indicators) and chemical hazards such as mycotoxins
  • Regular testing of the environment for microbial contaminants and their indicators, such as Listeria spp
  • Reviewing the hazard analysis and the HACCP plan (e.g. internal and/or third-party audits)

Principle 7: Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records

Accurate and comprehensive procedure and record-keeping is a fundamental aspect of HACCP. In the event of an audit or inspection, well-maintained procedures and records demonstrate HACCP compliance and contribute to transparency and accountability in the food production process.


Why is HACCP certification important?

  • Legal Compliance: HACCP certification assists in legal compliance by providing a systematic framework for managing food safety hazards and demonstrating due diligence in the production of safe and wholesome food products.
  • Market Access: HACCP certification is often a prerequisite for accessing certain markets, both domestically and internationally. Many retailers, distributors, and food service providers require their suppliers to have HACCP certification as a demonstration of their commitment to food safety.
  • Consumer Confidence: HACCP certification signals to consumers that your business takes food safety seriously. It builds trust and confidence in your products, leading to enhanced brand reputation and customer loyalty.
  • Risk Management: Implementing the HACCP system helps identify and mitigate potential food safety hazards throughout the production process. This proactive approach reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses, product recalls, and other food safety incidents, protecting both consumers and your business.
  • Competitive Advantage: HACCP certification can differentiate your business from competitors who may not have formalised food safety management systems. It can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace by demonstrating your commitment to producing safe food products.
  • Continuous Improvement: The HACCP certification process involves regular audits and assessments of your food safety management system. This encourages continuous improvement and helps identify areas for enhancement, leading to greater efficiency, effectiveness, and compliance with food safety standards.

Conclusion

Overall, adhering to the seven principles of the HACCP system and obtaining HACCP certification can enhance your business's reputation, improve market access, mitigate risks, and ensure compliance with food safety regulations, ultimately contributing to the long-term success and sustainability of your food business.

With a commitment to excellence and a global reputation for delivering top-tier certification services, TÜV SÜD stands out as a reliable partner for food safety solutions, helping your business align seamlessly with international standards. Get started on your HACCP journey with TÜV SÜD.

TÜV SÜD also provides training for Food Safety Management Systems, explore the courses here.

 

References

1. Introduction to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) (fao.org)
2. HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines | FDA
3. SFA | Good Food Safety Practices



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