What are the Seven Principles of HACCP?


What are the Seven Principles of HACCP?

What is HACCP?

Whether it’s food in your home country or any country you may visit, you want to know the food is safe to eat. To meet the goal of providing food safety around the world, the HACCP system was developed.

HACCP is an internationally recognized food safety management system designed to prevent, reduce, or eliminate food hazards at all stages of the food processing system, from farm to fork.

It came from outer space. Well not really, but it does have a space origin. It was originally developed in the 1960s by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop safe food for space travel.

Since then, it has been refined by the food industry and governments so it can be used worldwide.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, pronounced (HASSUP). It has seven principles to keep food safe for astronauts in outer space and for everyone else still here on planet earth.

Worldwide, facilities handling, selling, and serving food should be aware of and follow the 7 HACCP principles to minimize food safety risks.

Here is an overview of the 7 principles.

The 7 HACCP Principles

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
  2. Determine Critical Control
  3. Points (CCPs)
  4. Establish Critical Limit(s)
  5. Monitoring
  6. Corrective Actions
  7. Verification
  8. Documentation

Let’s look at each one briefly, to understand them.

Principle 1: Conduct a Hazard Analysis
The first HACCP principle focuses on identifying and analyzing the hazards that can cause foodborne illnesses. This principle involves identifying the 4 types of food hazards that most of us are familiar with.

These are:
• Biological
• Chemical
• Physical
• Allergens

One example of identifying a hazard that could appear in the kitchen is salmonella (biological hazard). We can find salmonella in raw chicken.

Principle 2: Critical Control Points (CCPs)
CPPs are located at any point where hazards can be introduced into the process.

CCPs must be established to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the hazards to an acceptable level.

In our first step example, salmonella in raw chicken was identified as a hazard. In this step we identify that handling this raw chicken is a CCP, in addition to how we would store it and sanitize what it touches, we also determine that to serve the chicken safely it must be cooked, as heat will kill salmonella.

Principle 3: Critical Limits
Principle 3 is about quantifying the value of what needs to happen at a certain CCP. Each control point requires at least one critical limit for each hazard.

These values must be based on scientific factors or regulatory standards, such as humidity, pH, temperature, and water activity, among others.

Continuing with our example, a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) is the critical limit, established scientifically, for cooking a piece of chicken to kill harmful bacteria. In other words, once a CPP is established, we need to put exact instructions on how to deal with it, with a value.

The critical limits for cooking can differ for different types of food. Here you can find the temperature cooking chart from Health Canada.

Principle 4: Monitoring
Principle 4 is about monitoring so you can ensure your HACCP is working. That means observing, measuring, and recording to be sure CCPs are under control or corrective actions are necessary.

We are regularly monitoring the cooked chicken temperature to make sure the critical limit is being met, but we also monitor the thermometer, by calibrating it, to make sure it is accurate.

Another example of monitoring is checking the truck temperature of your cold and frozen food deliveries.

Principle 5: Corrective Actions
This principle focuses on what will be done to correct a food safety issue. It involves finding and correcting the cause, identifying any products involved, and recording the corrective actions taken.

Corrective action for undercooked chicken is to throw it out or cook it more.  Other corrective actions may include, rejecting a food shipment, or adjusting the fridge temperature.

Principle 6: Verification
Verification focuses on the ongoing steps necessary to ensure the HACCP plan is working and up to date. 

Review the plan to make sure everything is working as it should be. Once the plan is reviewed check whether it has been well implemented and maintained. Every system should undergo a health check from time to time.

Procedures for verification should be documented and include who, what, when, and how.

Principle 7: Documentation
Principle 7 is all about record keeping, and tracking what is required for HACCP setup and use.

HACCP records are the evidence that a HACCP plan is in place, is being followed, and is effective. They will include the HACCP plan, validation records, and records generated during the operation of the plan.

Documentation also includes detailed notes of all interactions with public health inspectors, including phone calls, e-mails, meetings, and correspondence. This information will be useful to reconstruct the facts in case they are needed.

In a world where food safety spans from outer space to our own tables, the HACCP system emerges as the foundation of food safety and well-being. Shifting the focus from reactive control measures to proactive prevention planning. HACCP’s ultimate goal is to make food products as safe as possible by closely overseeing the entire food handling process. For this to work it is imperative that every link in the chain, from farm to fork, integrates these principles.

By developing an effective HACCP plan, facilities not only secure the trust of their customers but also reduce their likelihood of propagating foodborne illnesses thereby safeguarding their patrons and their reputation.