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Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a system accepted for food safety management globally. It works by a preventive approach to food safety instead of the current method of finished product testing. Developing a haccp plan is essential for any food production process.

 The requirement is that the various biological, chemical and physical food hazards be identified and then controlled at different stages in the process of production.

Companies involved in the manufacturing, handling, or processing of foods need the HACCP to improve food safety.

Developing a HACCP plan may seem an uphill task, but it is possible and easy to design and implement.

Twelve tasks are involved in developing a HACCP plan to ensure that the seven principles are applied correctly for your company.

Task 1 – Put up the HACCP Team 

To understand better and to be able to identify the possible hazards, the HACCP team should comprise a wide range of disciplines within the commodity system. These team should include:

A team leader is tasked with convening meetings and ensuring the concept is applied to the letter.

An expert with thorough knowledge of the commodity system will be tasked with producing commodity flow diagrams.

 Other experts with an understanding of hazards and their associated risks are included. E.g., Process Engineers, micro-biologists, a chemist, QC managers, etc.

The HACCP team needs to identify and define the scope of the study, whether it covers the whole system or part of it. Other specialists can be added as and when required depending on the size.

Task 2 – Product description.

 The HACCP team gives the full description of the food commodity, its ingredients, and its processing. The information includes mycotoxin level, composition; physical and chemical properties of the elements and the product, moisture content, and PH. Packaging, storage, and transportation for distribution are also detailed.

Task 3 – Identification of the intended use and customer.

Describe the expected use of the food and whether it will be consumed directly, be cooked, or require further processing. The targeted consumers are an essential factor to consider. The group may be the general public or a particular population segment (e.g., infants, immune-compromised individuals, the elderly, etc.)

Task 4 – Drawing of the commodity flow chart

 The HACCP team drafts a detailed flow diagram of the commodity. The diagram should be self-explanatory, simple, and outline all the steps involved in the item.

Task 5 – On-site confirmation of the flow diagram.

After completing the Commodity Flow Diagram (CFD), the HACCP team should visit the commodity system to perform an on-site review of the operation and verify the accuracy and completeness of the flow diagram. Changes can be done as necessary. On-site confirmation can be done more than once to ensure that all relevant data has been collected.

Once task 5 has been completed, it’s now time to move to principle 1

Task 6 – Identify and Analyze hazards – (PRINCIPLE 1)

The HACCP team identifies and analyses all possible hazards and control measures that could happen during the commodity process.

Food safety hazards have been classified as:

Biological.- Include bacteria, viruses, algae, parasites, and fungi

Chemical – These are chemical toxins that are either naturally occurring in foods, produced by

                  Micro-organisms or added by man to the commodity to control an identified problem.

Physical – Contaminants like metal fragments, glass particles, insects, stones, etc.

Task 7 – Determination of the critical control points (CCPS) – (PRINCIPLE 2)

The critical control point is when a control measure is required to prevent or remove a food safety hazard. These hazards, which could potentially bring illness or cause an injury, are handled at this stage. If a food hazard is identified and by chance there is no control measure applicable, the production ceases since the food is unsafe for consumption.

A decision tree can be used to determine the CCPs. It’s important to note that the HACCP team’s judgment and expertise are most important for coming up with critical control points.CCPs should be carefully crafted and documented. Even for companies that process the same commodity, the CCPs will differ due to differences in each facility’s layout, equipment, selection of ingredients, processes employed, etc.

Task 8 – Establishment of critical limits for each CCP – ( PRINCIPLE 3)

Critical limits are then defined, specified, and validated. They are the maximum and minimum values to which biological, chemical and physical parameters must be controlled. It established the safe and unsafe levels of commodity use and commodity process.

Critical limit factors include Temperature, Time, Physical dimensions, Humidity, Moisture level, Water activity, PH, Titratable acidity, Salt concentration, Available chlorine, Viscosity, Preservatives, and Sensory information such as aroma and visual appearance. The Critical limits must have a scientific basis. Critical limits and criteria are obtained from regulatory standards and guidelines, experiments, and experts.

Task 9 – Establishment of a monitoring procedure ( PRINCIPLE 4) 

 Monitoring is the process of confirming that critical limits are being achieved or met. The results should be immediate so that control may be instituted fast enough to avoid losing control of a step and further avoid losing the product.

Task 10 – Establishment of corrective action (PRINCIPLE 5)

Corrective action should be taken immediately, as soon as monitoring shows that Critical limits are not being met. Corrective action ensures that the CCP has been put under control to prevent losses.

Task 11 – Verification for the HACCP plan.- ( PRINCIPLE 6 )

After developing a HACCP plan and all the CCPs have been validated and approved, it’s time to verify the complete HACCP plan.

During the verification process, it is first necessary to evaluate whether the facility’s HACCP system is functioning according to the HACCP plan. It’s also essential to determine whether the plan is scientifically and technically sound. Also, all hazards have been identified, and upon implementation, these hazards will be well controlled.

Task 12 – Record-Keeping ( PRINCIPLE 7 )

Keeping records is crucial and shows that the correct procedures have been followed from the start to the end of HACCP planning. It also offers product traceability.

Finally, successful implementation of the HACCP plan depends on the commitment of the top management and the selection of people who will be responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the HACCP.

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