Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points is a systemic process of analyzing hazards in your food, including all ingredients, colorings, additives, and operational processes. Then determining what Critical Controls should be used to prevent, destroy, or eliminate the hazards.
Before we dive into the benefits of HACCP, let us understand where HACCP originated, and the methodology behind this globally adopted and accepted evaluation process.
HACCP was created in the U.S. in the 1960s when NASA and the Pillsbury Company, along with the U.S. Army Laboratories, collaborated to provide safe food for upcoming human-crewed space flights; they identified two concerns regarding food safety.
The first was food particles (crumbs) and water (or other liquids) floating around at zero gravity. If you have ever seen the inside of a rocket, it is full of electronics and controls – so particles and liquid droplets from consuming food and beverages would be a disaster.
The second food safety concern is pathogens and biological toxins. Can you imagine astronauts getting food poisoning – in space? That would be catastrophic.
This second concern was more complex to manage than the first; sampling each batch of space food produced was impractical. Pillsbury had to develop a process to establish control over the entire process, the raw material, the processing environment, and the people involved in the process to ensure the end product was microbiologically safe.
Critical Control Points (CCP) were used to test weapon and engineering system reliability, so NASA and Pillsbury could hire contractors to identify and eliminate the “critical failure areas” in the food processing procedures.
After the success of NASA providing safe food for their space expeditions, Pillsbury had a recall on a product called Farina, which is a cereal used in infant food. They were finding glass pieces and matter in the food, which caused contamination. A microbiologist at Pillsbury, who also helped in the NASA initiative, pushed for the company to adopt a HACCP plan.
Due to the success of fixing this outbreak and improving the quality of the Farina product, a panel discussion was held in 1971 at the National Conference on Food Protection that highlighted the benefits of Critical Control Points and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in producing safe food.
The outcome of this meeting was the FDA asking Pillsbury to deliver a training program to inspect canned foods for FDA inspectors since canned goods had also experienced issues in the manufacturing process. The name of this class was titled “Food Safety through the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System,” and this was the first time HACCP was used to educate food facilities in the industry.
Not only did the FDA and the low-acid and acidified canned goods producers adopt HACCP principles, some other large food companies also began implementing the principles.
Industry organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and National Advisory Committee made recommendations for the HACCP principles that led to establishing the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods in 1988. Also referred to as the NACMCF, as of 2020, the committee consists of 30 members with diverse backgrounds and expertise. The NACMCF advises the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (of which the FDA is a department of), the CDC, and the Department of Commerce about the benefits of developing a science-based, microbiological standard for foods processing and sanitation.
The HACCP principles were fully endorsed by the scientific and food communities in the U.S. and gained global endorsement.
To learn more about the seven principles of HACCP, see Why Do I Need a HACCP Plan?
Let us get back to discussing the benefits of HACCP.
Food manufacturers, processors, packers, and food holders must have a Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls Point Plan (HARPC) per the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). The plan must be specific to your commodity and process and plant.
HARPC is similar to HACCP as far as the Hazard Analysis portion, but instead of only addressing Critical Control Points, HARPC has broader requirements to include other prevention, control, and elimination of hazards activities. NOTE: Under U.S. federal regulation, specific industries must have HACCP, such as juice and seafood.
With the execution of FSMA, the FDA and USDA were granted additional and well-needed authority to enforce safe food practices, including the ability to: Issue a “Warning Letter,” enforce fines, criminally prosecute, and shut down food operations.
Since HACCP is the only recognized program to systemically analyze hazards in your food, process, and practices, operating without one means you do not have the knowledge or the scientific data required to ensure you are producing safe food. The absence of a HACCP plan will cause an action to be taken by the FDA but worse, what if you make people sick, or your product consumers die.
Note: If you are a food service or preparer, typically, the State, County, or City issuing you a business permit will also require you to submit a Food Safety Plan (as defined by FSMA), which includes a HACCP plan before your business permit will be issued.
In summary, the benefits of a HACCP Plan means you are compliant with regulations, the process of conducting the Hazard Analysis means you will examine each step of your operation, including your supply chain, each ingredient, and additive, processing equipment, chemicals used, the intentional and unintentional introduction of hazards, etc. Once identified, you will use scientifically validated controls to manage your food risks at each step of the process. The benefit is the systemic approach to ensuring you are producing safe, wholesome food for your customers and protecting the integrity of your brand.
Next Steps, proper identification of hazards and control can be scientific and challenging if you do not have formal education or experience in the food sciences. GFSC is a group of professional food safety experts that design and integrate food safety programs into your business so you can get back to doing what you love most.
Our pricing is based on three criteria:
- The number of products you are producing.
- The number of steps in the process.
- The overall complexity of your commodity.
Plans start at $2,000 and go up from there and take from 2 – 6 weeks to complete, depending upon complexity.
- We meet for 60-90 minutes to discuss your product, process, and facility.
- We write a plan specific to your needs.
- We deliver the plan as an electronic document.
- We train you on the tasks you will need to complete.
We can deliver the documentation to your inspector if preferred. We will make any edits required by the inspector until your plan is approved.
If you or your company need assistance with writing a HACCP Plan, Global Food Safety Consultants, your food safety partner, can help.