Maintaining food safety and quality are two of the most important responsibilities of any restaurant or food business. HACCP is the agreed-upon best system that allows businesses to do it. By following HACCP principles, your business can minimize chances of foodborne illness or other disease.
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3.4. Monitor the CCPs
What is HACCP ?
HACCP is the system that many restaurants use to ensure food safety and quality. Improperly stored food, unhygienic conditions, inadequate kitchen protocols or faulty manufacturing can drastically harm consumers. Thus, these errors need to be avoided at all costs, which is where HACCP comes in.
Especially in a globalized world, it can be difficult to make sure food is safe to circulate. This is why HACCP was established. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.
The method is an internationally recognized system managing food safety, largely through preventive measures that are easy for food producers, distributors or manufacturers to follow.
When integrating HACCP into your food safety program and strategy, you must consider biological hazards, as well as other dangerous factors like chemical and physical risks, in order to be recognised by the committee. Properly implementing HACCP means paying attention to every factor that could represent danger.
Following HACCP principles and creating an HACCP plan helps assure yourself and your customers that you value food safety and have taken steps to ensure that any hazards relating to food have been minimized.
Why use the HACCP system?
As already mentioned, using the HACCP system sends a strong message that you take food safety seriously and are able to guarantee it. Integrating HACCP into your business procedures inspires confidence and makes you a desirable organization to work with.
However, the benefits of using the HACCP system go far beyond trust and your business reputation. HACCP is an important and integral part of any business in the food industry because it
- Is a means of detecting, prioritizing, preventing, and controlling potential hazards in food production.
- Generally ensures compliance with the law and applicable regulations.
- Aims to prevent foodborne illnesses and allergic reactions resulting from cross-contamination and can therefore save lives or reduce the impact of serious health issues.
- Allows companies to adopt a holistic view of food risks and control factors such as biological, chemical, and physical hazards efficiently.
- Enables organizations to fully control all their procedures.
- Ensures that food safety standards improve across the globe, as many customers nowadays require their suppliers to use fully certified HACCP systems.
HACCP is essentially a quality management system (QMS) that can be used at almost any point within the food industry chain, from production and delivery, food storage and temperature regulation to ensuring restaurant hygiene. Even though HACCP certification is not always mandatory, following the guidelines will improve your safety processes, make you globally competitive, and improve daily processes.
What are the HACCP requirements?
These seven HACCP principles incorporate all safety-related operations within the food chain
Identify and analyze hazards
Before you can address hazards in your kitchen, you first need to identify them. In order to conduct a proper HACCP risk assessment, you need to look for biological, physical, or chemical hazards that might impact the safety of your products. Check for said hazards during the production, storage, packaging, and other stages of food distribution. Be as thorough and diligent as possible to get the most out of your work.
Identify critical control points
Critical control points, or CCPs, help you identify, avoid, prevent, and eliminate hazards in order to fully control your operations. Critical control points are the factors which could lead to hazards, whether it is temperature, pH, weight, or something else. Ways to handle a critical control point include refrigerating your food, testing for substances, or examining your processing methods.
CCPs are the bulwark that protect your business from food safety issues by reducing risks and clarifying factors associated with corrective actions.
Establish critical limits
In order to make use of your newly determined CCPs, it is important to attach critical limits to them that are based on scientific findings. Anything outside of these limits may result in food unsafe for human consumption. Examples of critical limits include parameters such as:
- Food temperature
- Presence of microorganisms
- Moisture levels
Any CCP breach must be reported and addressed immediately through pre-established corrective actions.
Monitor the CCPs
CCPs need to be monitored regularly in order to be effective. Therefore it is vital that you put a system in place that helps with this. One way to monitor your critical control points is by employing a specific observation sequence, and document findings using checklists. For example, checking temperature logs at regular intervals is a common CCP monitoring practice, which you can do manually or automatically, depending on your means and needs.
Establish corrective actions
The core of HACCP is correcting errors or bad practices. No matter how diligent your CCP monitoring is, there is always a possibility of mistakes. As soon as a critical limit has been breached, corrective actions need to be taken to eliminate or minimize the hazard. Pre-establishing corrective actions allows you to act quickly and efficiently in order to protect consumers as well as your business. Corrective actions could include>
- Disposal of undercooked items
- Re-calling products that may have been compromised
Verify the effectiveness of your HACCP plan
Establishing processes for taking corrective actions and resolving issues is essential for a functioning HACCP system. Verifying the usefulness of such measures involves regularly scheduled reviews at different stages of the process. It is important that you document all your findings in order to be able to prove that your HACCP system is fully functional, or improve it if not.
Document your procedures
Keeping records of all HACCP-related activity is vital. Accurately documenting your efforts makes it easy to see whether your system needs updating or can be improved further. It also helps you present proof of your commitment to food safety and your compliance with regulatory requirements.
How can you build an HACCP system?
Showing that you understand what HACCP stands for means sticking to the seven basic principles and integrating them into your business. Bedford you can, however, there is some preliminary work required.
Since HACCP can apply to various industries, procedures will vary depending on the work that you do. However, there are five general steps which are useful for any kind of business.
1. Establish an HACCP team
By appointing specific employees to oversee HACCP implementation, you will eventually have a team of experts that are familiar with the regulations and can reliably conduct HACCP processes.
Ideally, your HACCP team is made-up of employees from various sectors within your company. This provides you with a holistic and multi-facetted viewpoint which covers every aspect of your processes.
Training your employees is an essential step of developing an HACCP plan. Such training is generally handled by outside experts, and helps to ensure compliance. What is HACCP training? You can break it down into the following steps:
- Make sure all team members are aware of what HACCP is, what HACCP stands for, and why it’s important. When they understand why the system is relevant, employees are more likely to take their training seriously and follow food safety procedures to a T.
- Help team members by providing a list of common food safety hazards so that they know what to look out for and avoid, from foreign substances in products to cross-contamination which could trigger food allergies.
- Inform your team members of food safety practices – but keep in mind that these are often subject to change and need to be reviewed regularly.
- Teach your team the seven basic HACCP principles and make sure each one is fully understood
2. Describe the product and its distribution
In order to make sure you address all important factors in your hazard analysis, it’s important to make sure you know everything relevant to and about your product, such as:
- How is the item composed?
- What are the ingredients and hazards pertaining to those ingredients?
- How much water does the product contain?Could there be microbial growth if the product is not diligently monitored?
- How does the product need to be packaged/stored/shelved?
Don’t underestimate the importance of knowing how your product is made. The more precise your descriptions and labeling, the safer your product will be for consumers.
3. Identify the product’s intended use
A sometimes overlooked aspect of food safety is considering who will be consuming your food and how they are going to use it. You need to ask yourself:
- Is the intended target group susceptible to illness(e.g. infants, the elderly)?
- Can the food be misused in any way by certain consumers? Make sure to record exactly what constitutes misuse.
- Are there ingredients or components people could be allergic to? Do your best to mark those
It is also important to consider whether your product will need to be cooked or processed by consumers or if it can be consumed directly. This can help you identify potential hazards later on.
4. Describe the process
Once you’ve established your team and analyzed your product, it’s time to develop your HACCP process. This is generally done by drawing up a so-called commodity flow diagram (CFD). This diagram varies from industry to industry and country to country.
A CFD lays out the entire manufacturing process as a graphic, starting from raw materials and ending with the finished product.
5. Test the flow diagram
As a final step, it is necessary to confirm the accuracy of your CFD. Does the theoretical production diagram actually match reality?
You can assess this via a process called “walking the line”. Your team will follow the production process step-by-step, without deviation, and reconfirm everything that is asserted in the flow chart. Take note of anything that is not accurate. You need all vital information to be properly recorded and integrated into the CFD.
How can you get HACCP certified?
The best way to demonstrate that you’ve internalized the meaning of HACCP is to get HACCP certified. There is no consistent protocol for HACCP certification, as regulations differ by country. While HACCP is an internationally recognized standard, rules, regulations and procedures differ, just the same as accreditation bodies. Some businesses are generally required to have HACCP systems for food safety in place (e.g. seafood, juice) but HACCP may not be required in other industries. Nevertheless, HACCP plans are always an asset and can help your business thrive by eliminating potential hazards.
Even though there are no strict rules in place, you can prepare yourself for HACCP audits
by taking an HACCP course and thoroughly studying the material. Audits usually happen in two parts.
In the first part of an HACCP audit, the external auditor reviews and confirms your team. In order to do this, they examine management standards and team preparedness before assessing whether the company complies with HACCP certification standards. They then draw up a report which details where standards were met or raises concerns about areas that were found lacking.
During the second half of the audit procedure, your company will receive a more in-depth review. The auditor makes sure that you are complying with HACCP regulations and that your food safety management system is functioning. Once the audit process ends, the auditor and food safety manager meet and discuss any issues, after which the auditor will recommend certification or tell you which further requirements need to be met.
Businesses are observed for around 2 years after a successful audit as part of what’s called a surveillance audit, in order to make sure that they are following the HACCP plan, practicing food safety, and doing everything possible to reduce food risks.
To guarantee a successful audit process, make sure that you:
- Follow every step of HACCP beforehand. In total, there are 12 things to do – five preparatory steps and seven HACCP principles. Build a checklist, take your time, and be thorough. Here is a summary of the 12 previously mentioned steps:
- Establish your HACCP team
- Describe your product
- Describe the product’s intended use
- Draw up the CFD
- Confirm the CFD
- Principle 1: Identify hazards
- Principle 2: Determine CCPs
- Principle 3: Establish critical limits for CCPs
- Principle 4: Introduce a monitoring procedure
- Principle 5: Establish corrective actions
- Principle 6: Verify your HACCP plan
- Principle 7: Record your efforts
When all of those steps have been followed and you are ready for the audit, make sure to:
- Have all your documents prepared and submitted in advance.
- Respond to any concerns raised by your auditor as soon and as thoroughly as possible.
- Have everything in order before you schedule the final third-party audit.
Meeting HACCP requirements and keeping your restaurant running securely is easiest with the help of a digital inspection app like Lumiform. The flexibility of digital solutions allows you to perform inspections from your phone no matter where you are, and the data is stored automatically. You can use a pre-built HACCP template, or you can create your own to reflect the requirements applicable to your country and industry.