HACCP Certification – a guide for the food sector companies

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Taking a food product to your hand in a shop, you may observe the “HACCP” marking on its label. Such a marking proves that the particular product is not harmful to health. In the following article we will focus on food products. We are going to describe what norms the food had to fulfil in order to be available for distribution.

What is HACCP?

HACCP is an abbreviation that stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. It has been a well-known system for many years and its beginnings can be traced back in the USA in 60s, when the first spaceflight was about to take place. People were wondering how they could create food products to make them safe for cosmonauts. The products were supposed to be pure and they couldn’t include harmful toxins. Then, between 1972-1978, an American institution – The Federal and Drug Administration (FDA) made producers to perform the HACCP norms. The World Health Organization (WHO) accepted the system in 1975, and in 1993, it was accepted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The HACCP has been gradually introduced to European countries beginning from 1993.

The HACCP certification is to confirm that food products that are bought by consumers are safe to their health. In order to achieve such a conclusion, it is needed to assess all possible harmful procedures while producing and distributing food products. In addition, the plan of taking some corrective actions in order to eliminate such procedures needs to be implemented. The harmful procedure is understood as different factors that may cause any health impairment of a client, e.g. germs or sand. The HACCP is applicable to all companies that are engaged in food industry – producers, food processing companies, distributors, as well as animal food producers. It does not concern the primary production.

What are the basic HACCP rules and how to implement them?

The HACCP is not a system that can be easily implemented in a food company. It consists of 7 rules that are to be implemented. There are also some steps that are worth to be taken in order to make the whole process easier.

While implementing the HACCP system, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Defining the scope of the HACCP system.
  2. Creating a team that is to supervise the implementation of the HACCP and which be responsible for the whole process.
  3. Preparing a detailed description of the product and explaining what it will be used for.
  4. Defining how the product will be manufactured in terms of technical aspects.
  5. Checking if the production process will be working effectively on a production line.

After taking 5 above steps, the HACCP system may be implemented by following the 7 rules:

  1. The first rule of HACCP – conducting a hazard analysis. The main food safety hazards include biological, chemical and physical factors. Biological hazard concerns germs, parasites, as well as viruses. The group of chemical hazard concerns natural toxins, all chemical compounds, pesticides, heavy metals, as well as cleaning agents remnant. The physical hazard concerns glass, metals, sand, and packages remnant. The HACCP system requires to assess the risk of such hazards during every production step. Then, it is needed to assess if such hazards may be harmful to health of consumers, and identify the preventative measures.
  2. The second rule of the HACCP – identifying critical control points. The critical control points are procedures that must be controlled while manufacturing the product, because they are subject to risk of hazard. When the hazard occurs, they need to be immediately removed.
  3. The third rule of the HACCP – establishing critical limits for all critical control points. It means that the hazards that occur at critical points can’t exceed the defined limits, because it would result in the situation when the product is no longer safe to the consumer.
  4. The fourth rule of the HACCP – monitoring critical controlling points. It means establishing requirements connected with controlling the particular parameters at every critical controlling point and frequency of such controls. All measurements should be precisely reported. In order to fulfil this rule, the particular individual who can control and be responsible for measurements must be appointed.
  5. The fifth rule of the HACCP – establishing corrective actions that are to be taken in case of a deviation from the established critical limits. It is needed to establish some actions that are to reclaim the exceeded norms to the correct values, as well as to indicate what should happen with the product that was produced when the deviation occurred (such products are mostly dumped). In order to fulfil this rule, the particular individual responsible for aforementioned actions is needed to be appointed too.
  6. The sixth rule of the HACCP – ensuring if the HACCP system is working appropriately. The verification may be conducted by putting the product to different microbiological tests. Many producers also verify the product based on complaints made by clients, however, we advise to perform an internal audit in order to check if the system is effective.
  7. The seventh rule of the HACCP – record keeping procedures. It needs to be treated as a very serious step, because records are a kind of a proof that food products were produced in a safe way. It is needed to establish the procedures connected with recording, keeping the records, as well as supervising the records related to the HACCP system.

What are the advantages connected with the implementation of the HACCP system?

The advantages connected with the implementation of the HACCP system are as follows:

  • an effective implementation of the HACCP system proves to clients that the company seeks to producing food products that are safe to health and improving their quality,
  • fulfilling legal standards required by food industry,
  • improving safety of the production, as well as sanitary conditions,
  • better consumer trust in terms of the products offered by the company, as well as the company itself,
  • the constant control over production allows to decrease loss connected with producing faulty goods,
  • better quality of products,
  • improving the performance of employees.

Summary

The HACCP system must be implemented when we are engaged in food industry (food products marketing). There are 7 rules of the system that must be fulfilled. In our opinion, it is the most effective system that proves to consumers that the product is fit for human consumption. The company that complies with the HACCP system can’t perceive this system as an additional problem, because it brings some great advantages to the company, e.g. better quality of products, what is reflected in better sales performance. Unfortunately, it must take some time to this system start working.

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