Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Certification - Food Safety Management System certification is a process control system designed to identify and prevent microbial and other hazards in food production and entire food chain. HACCP certification includes steps designed to prevent problems before they occur and to correct deviations through a systematic way as soon as they are detected.
HACCP certification enforced by such agencies as the US Department of Agriculture's Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a scientific process control system for eliminating contaminants at critical areas in the food production and distribution process. HACCP certification helps to prevent, as close to 100% as possible, harmful contamination in the food supply system.
Such preventive control systems with haccp documentation and verification are widely recognized by scientific authorities and international organizations as the most effective approach available for producing safe food system.
HACCP certification enables the producers, processors, distributors, exporters, etc, of food products to utilize technical resources efficiently and in a cost effective manner in assuring food safety system.
Today HACCP certification is being applied to industries other than food, such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The standard approach to HACCP certification is that specified by the Codex Alimentarius, 1997, and follows 7 basic principles:
1. Conduct a hazard analysis : Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.
2. Determine the critical control points : These are points in a food's production from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.
3. Establish critical limits : For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.
4. Establish a system to monitor control of the critical control points : Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.
5. Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular critical control points is not under control : for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.
6. Establish procedures for verification to confirm that the HACCP system is under control : for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.
7. Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application : This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling food borne pathogens.
Advantages of HACCP Certification:
HACCP Certification offers a number of advantages over the current system. Most importantly, HACCP Certification: focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food is based on sound science permits more efficient and effective government oversight, primarily because the recordkeeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than how well it is doing on any given day places responsibility for ensuring food safety appropriately on the food manufacturer or distributor helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market reduces barriers to international trade.
History of HACCP Certification
The impetus behind modern HACCP Certification programs first began as a natural extension of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that food companies had been using as a part of their normal operations. A system was needed that enabled the production of safe, nutritional products for use by NASA starting in the late 1950’s to feed future astronauts who would be separated from medical care for extended periods of time. Without medical intervention, an astronaut sickened by food borne illness would prove a very large liability and could possibly result in the failure of entire missions. Food products could not be recalled or replaced while in space.
Beginning in 1959, the Pillsbury company embarked on work with NASA to further develop a process stemming from ideas employed in engineering systems development know as Failure Mode & Effect Analysis (FMEA). Through the thorough analysis of production processes and identification of microbial hazards that were known to occur in the production establishment, Pillsbury and NASA identified the critical points in the process at which these hazards were likely introduced into product and therefore should be controlled.
The establishment of critical limits of specific mechanical or test parameters for control at those points, the validation of these prescribed steps by scientifically verifiable results, and the development of record keeping by which the processing establishment and the regulatory authority could monitor how well process control was working all culminated in what today is known as HACCP. In this way, an expensive or time consuming testing procedure is not required to guarantee the safety of each piece of food leaving an assembly line, but rather the entire process has been seamlessly integrated as a series of validated steps.
In 1971 the HACCP certification approach was presented at the first American National Conference for Food Protection. 1973 saw the US FDA apply HACCP certification to Low Acid Canned Foods Regulations, although if you read those regulations carefully, you will note that they never actually mention HACCP certification. From 1988 to the present day, HACCP certification principles have been promoted and incorporated into food safety legislation in many countries around the world.
Beginning in 1996, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established a detailed Pathogen Reduction / Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP) program under the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to regulate the production of raw meat products by large scale facilities. There is currently no HACCP certification requirement in the US for food processors such as supermarket deli or butcher departments that purchase from certified producers.
European Regulation & Small Businesses
The European Union introduced new food hygiene regulations on 1-January-2006 that requires all food businesses within the EU, except primary producers, to operate food safety management procedures based on HACCP principles. Significant flexibility has been included to allow small businesses to comply. HACCP certification systems are not readily applicable to food businesses like retail caterers and the flexibility allows alternatives to HACCP certification that achieve the same outcome of safe food being produced. The U.K. Food Standards Agency has produced an adapted simplified version of HACCP certification for small caterers and retailers called ‘Safer Food Better Business’ (SFBB) that uses this flexibility and is an example of how quality systems and HACCP certification principles can be creatively adapted for small businesses and different situations.