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7 Key Principles of HACCP to Control Food Hazards

02 Jul

In 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established HACCP for meat and poultry processing plants, as well. Most of these establishments were required to start using HACCP by January 1999. Very small plants had until Jan. 25, 2000 (USDA regulates meat and poultry; FDA all other foods).

FDA now is considering developing regulations that would establish HACCP as the food safety standard throughout other areas of the food industry, including both domestic and imported food products. To help determine the degree to which such regulations would be feasible, the agency is conducting pilot HACCP programs with volunteer food companies. The programs have involved cheese, frozen dough, breakfast cereals, salad dressing, bread, flour and other products.

HACCP has been endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (an international food standard-setting organization), and the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. A number of U.S. food companies already use the system in their manufacturing processes, and it is in use in other countries, including Canada.

7 Key Principles of HACCP to Control Food Hazards

  • Analyze hazards: 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.
  • Identify 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.
  • Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point– 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.
  • Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points– Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.
  • Establish corrective actions: Corrective action to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met- for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.
  • Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly– for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.
  • Establish effective record to keeping document of the HACCP system– 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.

Need for HACCP

New challenges to the U.S. food supply have prompted FDA to consider adopting a HACCP based food safety system on a wider basis. One of the most important challenges is the increasing number of new food pathogens. For example, between 1973 and 1988, bacteria not previously recognized as important causes of food-borne illness–such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enteritis became more widespread.

There also is increasing public health concern about chemical contamination of food: for example, the effects of lead in food on the nervous system.

Another important factor is that the size of the food industry and the diversity of products and processes have grown tremendously–in the amount of domestic food manufactured and the number and kinds of foods imported. At the same time, FDA and state and local agencies have the same limited level of resources to ensure food safety.

The need for HACCP in the United States, particularly in the seafood and juice industries, is further fueled by the growing trend in international trade for worldwide equivalence of food products and the Codex Alimentarious Commission’s adoption of HACCP as the international standard for food safety.

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