Food Safety is nonnegotiable. Serving safe food is not an option. It's our obligation as restaurant and foodservice professionals. Proper training is one of the best ways to create a culture of food safety within our establishments.
Learn about HACCP
HACCP is a systematic way to help insure food safety. Because it is a system and because it deals with many details of preparing food, there is no simple, concise way to make a definition of HACCP that will characterize it completely. The purpose of this text is to help characterize HACCP so that its purposes are well understood
The letters H-A-C-C-P stand for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. HACCP was invented to insure there were not food safety failures in products taken into outer space, during the early years of NASA. The implication of this is that HACCP is a PROACTIVE approach to food safety--finding out after the blast-off that food is unsafe to consume is too late. To insure that food is safe before distribution, requires a systematic application of tested technologies which if applied correctly will control food hazards.
The need for HACCP implies that knowledge of these technologies is not enough. Most of the methods for hazard control have been around for decades, yet we still have food safety problems. What is required is a systematic way to apply these control technologies and to confirm that they have been applied.
HACCP is a system for achieving proactive food safety. A general description of this approach is:
- Choose a target product and represent its manufacturing system with a flow of materials diagram which depicts the materials and the operational sequence for the product.
- Perform a HAZARD ANALYSIS--identify potential food borne hazards and link them to the places in the flow of materials diagram where these hazards can enter the system.
- Identify places in the system where the proper control of the operation or step will reduce or eliminate the hazards. These places are called CRITICAL CONTROL POINTS.
- Analyze the system to make sure all identified hazards are controlled and that the control is adequate to insure that the resulting food products are safe.
THEN, FOR EVERY CRITICAL CONTROL POINT IN THE PREPARATION AND COOKING PROCESS:
Devise a structured, well defined, set of activities for each critical control point which will insure that the control methods and technologies are applied correctly. These activities will include: defining the hazard prevention measures, setting limits critical to hazard control, defining monitoring procedures for the food safety methods, defining what to do if the food safety methods are misapplied, keeping appropriate records to insure that methods were applied correctly, and verifying that the system defined for this critical control point is working.
In documenting the critical control point instructions--the "how to do the food safety job" at that critical control point--a "plan" is developed which defines the work that one or more people are required to do at a critical place in manufacturing. The collection of these critical control point instructions for all critical control points (plus a few more details) is called a HACCP PLAN.
This capsule description of HACCP is only an introduction. To employ HACCP properly, it must be seen as a system, with prerequisite activities. The purpose of the system is to help insure that details important to food safety are managed properly.