Create a functioning HACCP plan by fulfilling the requirements and following the HACC principles.

HACCP: What is that actually?

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP is an internationally recognised concept that aims to identify and mitigate risks and hazards to food safety. The HACCP plan is used to identify potential hazards to public health. The definition of critical control points (steering points) enables those responsible for acting proactively for food safety. HACCP identifies and controls the following three potential food safety hazards: biological, chemical and physical. Companies that produce, process or handle food are recommended to establish a HACCP plan. In this way, they can minimise or eliminate food safety hazards.

This short guide helps to understand:

1. What the 5 first steps in the development of a HACCP plan are

3. Which 7 principles should be followed for the successful implementation and management of a HACCP system

4. Why the documentation of the HACCP plan is important

5. How a HAACP concept can be easily implemented with digital technology

What is a HACCP plan?

A HACCP plan serves to control hazards in the food industry. Through its implementation and application, companies contribute to protecting consumers from food contamination. To this end, the risks associated with the handling and processing of food are regularly assessed.

The HACCP plan provides for 5 action steps:

  1. The analysis
  2. The definition of critical points
  3. The setting and control of limit values
  4. The implementation of measures
  5. The documentation

5 first steps to develop a HACCP plan

The HACCP concept aims to identify biological, chemical or physical hazards in food production. During the preparation and processing of food natural hazards occur in the form of insects or dirt. Other hazards may be unintentional, such as the presence of hair or mislabelling of ingredients. Higher risk hazards include deliberate pollution or contamination of products by not complying with legal food standards.

The safety of food should be a top priority for food producers and retailers. The 5 following requirements should be met when developing a good HACCP plan:

  1. Identify who's involvedA multidisciplinary HACCP team should be set up, comprising people from all parts of the company. (e.g. QA, R&D, sanitary, maintenance, dispatch and reception, production and purchasing, etc.)

  2. Describe the product and what it can doThe HACCP team must describe the food and its intended use. It must also determine the processing method and its distribution.
  3. Know the customerIt is important to define the target consumers; this can be the general public or a specific target group with specific needs. (e.g. infants, pregnant women, older people, etc.).

  4. A flowchart To better understand the product and its production process, a flow chart is developed to clearly illustrate the steps of the entire plan.

  5. Verify the diagramThe accuracy and completeness of the flowchart must be verified before implementing the HACCP plan by carrying out initial inspections during the actual work process.

Once the five necessary steps have been followed in the preparation of a HACCP plan, it is important to observe several basic principles when applying the HACCP concept.

The 7 HACCP principles

1. Principle: Performing a hazard analysis

An effective hazard analysis involves listing all steps in the production process and identifying the hazards associated with each task performed. The HACCP team should then assess the severity, significance and frequency of the risk and determine preventive measures.

2. Principle: Determination of CCPs

A critical control point (CCP) or steering point is a step in the production process where there is a possibility to prevent, mitigate or eliminate a food safety hazard (e.g. acceptance of products, preparation and handling of food, cooking, heating, transport, etc.).

3. Principle: Establishment of critical limits for CCPs

A critical limit is the minimum/maximum value for a CCP resulting in action. By reacting quickly, the occurrence of a hazard should be avoided, eliminated or reduced. It separates safe and acceptable products from unsafe and unacceptable products. Examples are the measurement of weight, time, temperature, pH, wastewater activity and other measurements based on legal standards.

4. Principle: structure of a monitoring system

Regular monitoring of CCPs helps to track business operations and determine whether there is a deviation of CCPs or a loss of control. Monitored CCPs provide data for proper documentation, which facilitates the definition of corrective measures.

5. Principle: Determination of corrective measures

Corrective action must be taken if the preventive measures are not sufficient to achieve the objectives of the plan. Corrective actions are taken if the plan deviates from a critical limit. The HACCP team should identify the problem and the cause of the deviation and dispose of the hazardous product. The corrective actions must be recorded and properly documented.

6. Principle: Review of the HACCP plan

The review of a HACCP plan should not be limited to the monitoring of the operation. Still, it must also be verified that the HACCP concept is working according to the intended procedure. Examples of verification activities are equipment calibration, protocol checks, product tests, consulting experts, and internal observations.

7. Principle: Creation of documentation

A detailed record of the HACCP plan serves as conclusive evidence that the food produced has been subjected to critical procedures to cover all possible risks. In this way, companies ensure that their goods are safe. The HACCP documentation should contain complete information based on the 5 requirements and 7 principles.

A HACCP plan is most effective when each step is carried out thoroughly and consistently. The HACCP team must undertake to validate the process regularly to identify what could go wrong. In support of the HACCP plan, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) can be introduced to ensure that all manufacturing processes are safe and meet manufacturing standards.

The use of digital technology

The use of digital checklists is very useful to implement and document a HACCP plan. Lumiform is a powerful inspection app that enables users to perform first-class inspections and generate reports on site.

The use of Lumiform's digital checklists makes it easy to develop and document a HACCP plan for any food producer or retailer. The app solution enables the following:

  • To create a general profile of the HACCP team and products
  • To carry out better monitoring procedures and risk analyses
  • Gather and document all important information
  • Monitor all improvements in food safety

Our free HACCP checklists help to implement a HACCP concept quickly and efficiently in your own company. The templates can be easily adapted to individual requirements. No programming knowledge is necessary for this.

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