HACCP, which stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, is defined as a “management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product,” according to the FDA.
In practice, HACCP guidelines, a HACCP program, and a HACCP plan look to implement preventive controls to avoid food safety hazards. This includes contamination, and other hazards from occurring, rather than assessing finished products. These guidelines target areas such as personal hygiene, food preparation, hot/cold holding, refrigeration, food, and dry storage, cleaning and sanitation, and pest control. Implemented effectively, HACCP processes – including preventive controls at critical control points (ccp) – provide a proactive approach to food safety. Also, it assists with producing food safely by implementing preventive and corrective actions in the process to reduce the risk of post-production contamination. These risks tend to prompt costly reviews of current practices.
What is a HACCP Audit?
The HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point) audit is designed to help processors in the food industry identify areas of contamination risk (biological hazards, allergens, etc.) that they need to improve — before these areas are evaluated and assessed by the FDA. These principles and systems focus on physical concerns, and businesses prepping for an audit are best serviced with a HACCP checklist designed to pinpoint common areas of concern.
Why it’s a Critical Food Safety Component
HACCP and its certification play a critical role in and are a prerequisite to food safety. Typically part of a quality management system, alignment with this framework not only improves the quality and safety of food production outputs but in combination with regular food safety inspections can help food providers with improved safety management and avoid the need for costly downtime and substantial process changes.
Compliance can also help boost customer perception of business best practices. Consider Longo’s Brothers Fruit Market, a family-owned Canadian grocer that’s been in operation since 1956. In 2021, Longo’s earned the distinction as the top grocery retailer in the Ontario Leger WOW study, in part because of their award-winning food safety performance — two-thirds of customers said they were confident touching Longo’s products, even during the pandemic.
Is HACCP a Voluntary Process?
Whether HACCP is a mandatory or voluntary process depends on your location. For instance, in the United States, it is voluntary, while in the UK it is mandatory.
While it can be a voluntary process, it is strongly recommended to implement HACCP principles in food safety management. Health authorities such as inspectors will always recommend the best practices provided by HACCP, and following these principles and becoming certified will ensure customer safety and in turn, bolster your business’s brand image.
As mentioned, some countries require HACCP certification, while others do not. We recommend connecting with your local food regulatory body to inquire whether certification is required for your business.
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