In this blog we will cover:
HACCP is a term that crops up often in the hygiene business - especially when we talk about food manufacturing or handling - but what does it actually mean? And what does it mean to be a “HACCP compliant business”? We unpack some of this industry terminology in the blog post below.
What does HACCP mean?
HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, and simply put, is a system designed to identify and control hazards anywhere in a food processing operation. It is an internationally recognised food safety system.
A hazard is defined as “anything which has the potential to cause harm to the consumer”. Hazards are identified by looking at every step in the food production process and asking “what could go wrong?” Critical control points (CCPs) are put in place and managed every day in order to eliminate and control the pre-defined hazards.
How does a food business become HACCP compliant?
In order to become HACCP compliant, a business needs to carefully evaluate their specific processes and procedures to identify where hazards may arise, and then develop specific control points. To make this easier, there are 7 internationally accepted HACCP principles which provide a very good departure point for any business needing to become HACCP compliant. These are:
- Conduct a hazard analysis to identify and evaluate likely hazards within your business. Hazards can be physical (i.e. metal contamination), chemical (i.e. can a cleaning product contaminate the product, are there toxins that could contaminate the product?) or biological (at what points could bacteria or virus contaminate your product?)
- Identify the Critical Control Points where safety must be managed. For each critical control point you must identify the preventive measure.
- Establish critical limits which must be met to ensure that each CCP is under control (for example temperature, time, pH, salt level, chlorine level or any other processing characteristic that will control the hazard).
- Establish monitoring processes for each CCP. What and how will you measure each CCP, and how will you manage record keeping?
- Establish corrective actions for an instance where critical limits are not met. Corrective actions must be in place so that no unsafe product is ever released.
- Establish record keeping procedures. Good record keeping is an integral part of the HACCP process and is essential for when the business gets audited.
- Establish a validation or verification process. Once the plan is in place, make sure it is effective in preventing the hazards identified. Test the end product, and verify that the controls are working as planned.
Legislation on HACCP in South Africa
I can hear some of you thinking “that sounds like a huge amount of work, do I really have to be HACCP compliant?” The answer to that is found in Regulation 908 of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (54 of 1972) which states: No owner of a food handling enterprise is allowed to handle food without a fully implemented HACCP system. You can download a free copy of Regulation 908 here.
Other HACCP protocols to be aware of include:
- SANS 10049: Food Safety Management: requirements for prerequisite programmes (PRPs);
- SANS 10330: HACCP Principle 1: Requirements for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system;
- Act 119: Agricultural Product Standards Act, specifically Meat Safety Act no. 40 of 2000;
- GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).
What is the implication of HACCP for hygiene?
There are three main types of food contaminant that a HACCP system seeks to eliminate: microbiological, chemical, and physical. Contamination by any of these three will cause illness and may result in legal liability and damage to a business’s reputation.
Hand washing is considered the single most important means of preventing the first of these (microbiological contamination) and can therefore not be overemphasised in a food processing and handling environment.
Hands that have been in contact with bodily fluids and not adequately washed can harbour large numbers of viruses, bacteria and possibly other parasites. They can also carry pathogens from contaminated sources.
For hand hygiene to be truly effective in a HACCP environment (where disease and contamination prevention is critical) it should be linked to process controls and policies that drive an enhanced hand hygiene regime, such as policies on the use of gloves, presenteeism (coming to work when sick) and effective hygiene training for staff.
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Some additional industry terminology:
- Critical Control Point: The points in the operation which must be controlled in order to produce a safe product.
- Critical Limit: the safety limits which must always be met at each CCP
- HACCP Plan: The document which defines how food safety will be achieved.
- Monitoring Activities: Observations or measurements to assess whether a CCP is under control.
- Preventative Measure: A factor which operates to continuously control the hazard (not to be confused with monitoring activities).
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