Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

The HACCP system has been adopted both by food processors and restaurants, as well as by the FDA in its latest code (1993). At this time, there are no particular mandates that HACCP inspection forms must be used by all foodservice establishments. However, instituting such a plan may prove advantageous on a variety of levels.

If you decide to begin instituting HACCP procedures in your restaurant, you should know that it does require some initial investment of time and human resources. It is becoming obvious, however, that this system can save money and time, and improve the quality of service your are able to provide your customers.

Computer systems help make many of the parts of a HACCP system easier to institute - flowcharts, standards and measures to control hazards, and tracking how and when control measures are used by you and your staff.

The heart of HACCP is the following seven principles :

  1. Assessment of hazards and risks.

  2. Determining the critical control points (CCPs).

  3. Establishing critical limits (CLs).

  4. Establishing procedures for monitoring CCPs.

  5. Establishing corrective action plans.

  6. Establishing a system for maintaining records.

  7. Developing a system to verify and record actions.

The way in which an individual operation may apply these principles will vary. Not only it is permissible to make the system fit your establishment's style, it is imperative. Chain restaurants receive and process foods differently than an a la carte restaurant.

In order to make full use of a HACCP system, you need to clearly identify where foods are most likely to be in danger of contamination, and when and where you can do something to eliminate the risk or reverse the danger.

Foods can become contaminated at many points as they travel from their point of origin to your guests. Those particular points at which food is in immediate danger of becoming a source of a food-borne disease are referred to as critical control points.

Example of these points include any of the following situations -

  • Raw foods come in contact with pathogens through exposure to contaminated cutting boards, an employee's hands, or through cross-contamination. For instance, a knife is used to cut a chicken, and then used to cut cabbage for coleslaw without cleaning and sanitizing the knife.

  • Eggs yolks or hamburgers are not cooked to a safe temperature, thus allowing pathogens that might have been killed at proper temperatures to survive and establish themselves in the food.

  • Foods, especially those considered as potentially hazardous foods, are allowed to remain at a temperature within the danger zone for more than 3 hours.

  • Foods are not cooled to below 4oC (40oF) before storing.

  • Foods are stored in containers that are not properly cleaned.

As you look over the path that foods take, from the time that you receive them until they are served, you will be able to establish acceptable procedures for handling them safely. This may include a set of standards for receiving, storing, and reheating that outlines acceptable temperatures, containers, procedures for thawing, cooling and reheating, and other food-handling issues addressed in this article.

Back to Food Articles

Visitors Currently Online: 13