HACCP stands for 'Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point'. It is an internationally recognised and recommended system of food safety management. It focuses on identifying the 'critical points' in a process where food safety problems (or 'hazards') could arise and putting steps in place to prevent things going wrong. This is sometimes referred to as 'controlling hazards'.
Food handlers and other personnel with access to food processing areas could contaminate the product by introducing microbiological, chemical or physical (foreign body) hazards. Whilst plant layout and movement controls can reduce the risk, it is essential to provide the workforce with appropriate protective clothing. The purpose of the workwear is primarily to protect the foodstuffs, although of course it will serve to protect the wearer also.
In order to avoid any cross-contamination between food preparation and handlers, all staff working in a food environment must respect a high level of hygiene and must wear clean and appropriate workwear. This could include shoes or shoecovers specifically for the work area, headwear, face masks and disposable gloves.
HACCP involves the following seven steps:
- Identify what could go wrong (the hazards)
- Identify the most important points where things can go wrong (the critical control points – CCPs)
- Set critical limits at each CCP (e.g. cooking temperature/time)
- Set up checks at CCPs to prevent problems occurring (monitoring)
- Decide what to do if something goes wrong (corrective action)
- Prove that your HACCP Plan is working (verification)
- Keep records of all of the above (documentation)
Your HACCP plan must be kept up to date. You will need to review it from time to time, especially whenever something in your food operation changes. You may also wish to ask your local Environmental Health Officer for advice. Remember that, even with a HACCP plan in place, you must comply with all requirements of current food safety legislation.
For more information on HACCP and Food Safety, please view the Food Standards Agency website: http://www.food.gov.uk/