HACCP plan

Is HACCP a voluntary process?

In the US, HACCP is a voluntary process for almost all food businesses. A few finer guidelines on which operations are ...

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  • In the US, HACCP is a voluntary process for almost all food businesses. A few finer guidelines on which operations are required to have HACCP a plan are provided based on the manufacturing process and raw foods of the company.
  • In the UK, HACCP is a mandatory food safety management system for all types of food businesses.
  • Regardless of being a voluntary system in some locations, the HACCP system is still highly preferred and recommended by many food inspectors in different locations

Although very important, the HACCP process is not part of mandatory food regulations for most food businesses in the food industry. Despite this fact, several operations under the HACCP system are considered critical and invaluable to maintaining food safety, which is an ultimate responsibility of a food establishment. An example is reaching the critical internal temperature requirements when cooking to control biological hazards.

haccp voluntary process


Although it may not be a requirement for your business, following the HACCP process is always recommended by food agencies and health inspectors. Not only does it help to keep your customers safe, but it also builds your brand image as a company that cares and reduces the risk to public health.

Opening up a food facility always has risks and will always be there. Maintaining a system is key to controlling them and saving your food business from food safety lawsuits. There are several food safety programs and prerequisite programs available for this purpose. Every program starts with the basic food hygiene and manufacturing process. All the necessary basic principles for food safety are required to achieve a HACCP food safety management system. As such, having a HACCP system in your business means applying all the necessary steps for food safety.

You should contact your local food regulatory authority to check whether your food business must follow the HACCP process or have HACCP certification. Different industry types and locations affect the legal requirements food businesses must adhere to.

Is the HACCP process mandatory for specific industry types?

This is extremely important to understand. Although HACCP is an internationally recognized system for preventing potential food safety hazards in food production, it is still a voluntary process for most food businesses. Requirements to apply the HACCP system depend on the type of food business you are in and your location. Despite this, the HACCP process is a standardized system. That means the main applicable requirements to build and implement it are uniform wherever your official establishment is. 



For food processing companies based in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any food manufacturing plant of juice (FDA 21 CFR part 120) and seafood (FDA 21 CFR part 123) products to create a HACCP plan. Similarly, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) requires mandatory HACCP programs for any meat products and poultry food businesses. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act requires a comprehensive Food Safety Plan with risk-based preventive controls (HARPC) unless exempted by the food safety regulation for all other food businesses not included in the previously mentioned ones.

A more detailed summary of which businesses require a HACCP plan in the US and other regulatory requirements is presented in the figure below.


food safety documentation check for food sellers in the US

Is HACCP a voluntary process for you? 



In the 1990s, the HACCP food safety management system was only recommended by the government in the UK and Ireland. The food system later became mandatory for all food processing companies to implement a HACCP plan by January 1st, 2006, under food safety Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. Although some businesses, particularly the smaller retailers and caterers, only require a management system based on HACCP as long as good hygiene practices and some adaptations of HACCP steps are present.

Is HACCP a voluntary process when there is a health hazard?

Similar to the explanation above, a HACCP system is only a voluntary process in the United States, even if there is an obvious health hazard. The law in this country only suggests implementing a food safety system which is HACCP. Although, the recent passing into law of the Food Safety Modernization Act and its subsequent amendments have led the government to mandate the implementation of the HARPC system, which is also based on HACCP but with a few different principles.

On the other hand, the food laws of the UK require all food businesses to have a HACCP food safety plan in place for all food businesses. It is considered the standard food safety management system for any food establishment.

Is HACCP a codified system?

Despite being a voluntary program in the United States, implementing a HACCP food safety management plan is a codified system. It is important for food business owners what is HACCP a codified system to understand its implementation. Under the FDA, the HACCP principles are mentioned in the Title 9 Code of Federal Regulation Part 417 which is about food inspection tasks.

The code introduces HACCP as a management system that addresses food safety within the entire food chain by analyzing and controlling biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, handling, manufacturing, distribution of food, and consumption of food products.

In addition to the principles of HACCP, the code also includes specifications on how to make a flow of food diagram, prerequisite programs, lists of common hazards and related food products, important standard critical limits on processing steps, verification procedures, and directives in variance between HACCP plans.

Who is HACCP applicable to?

Generally, all food businesses will benefit from implementing a HACCP plan. As every food business has the responsibility for food safety, the HACCP food safety system ensures that all of your food business's processing operations are free from hazards to protect your consumers. A HACCP plan would work best for food businesses dealing with high-risk foods and those that incorporate allergens in their menu items.

In addition, a concrete HACCP plan shows the food processing industry as well as your consumers that your business takes food safety to the next level and does not take improper food production practices lightly.

The proactive nature of the HACCP system allows your food business to address food safety risks in your restaurant operations. It also promotes uniform standards for your production. Some of the establishments that can benefit from the voluntary HACCP program include:

  • Food manufacturing plants
  • Food and beverage services (e.g. restaurants and hotel food services)
  • Retail food establishments
  • Cafeterias and cafes

Whether your business is small or a manufacturing plant-sized company, you will always benefit from a comprehensive HACCP plan. Learn more about the quickest way how to make a HACCP plan. At FoodDocs, our HACCP plan builder can help you make your food safety system in just 1 hour. 


food safety plan builder

Is getting a certification for HACCP a voluntary process as well?

Certification in food safety is proof that your food business is recognized to be taking the matter very seriously. It shows that you have systems in place to protect the interest and health of your consumers. A HACCP certification is a written document granted to your food business by food agencies for your compliance with the HACCP standards.

If you are in the US, having a HACCP certification is an advantage over the other businesses without it. It also builds your brand to consumers as a business that values food safety. On the other hand, getting a HACCP certification in the UK is mandatory.

Your HACCP plan will be accordingly evaluated by food safety auditors and will provide you with the certification once you pass the audit. In combination with a HACCP certification, the laws in Northern Ireland and Wales mandate food businesses to secure a food hygiene certificate, and it is encouraged in England. 

What is the easiest way to get my HACCP Plan done?

The easiest way to get your HACCP Plan done is to use food safety software to create it. Making a HACCP plan yourself may take countless hours. It will take a lot of brainstorming, consultations, and revisions to finish.

In the current food industry scene, there are three ways how you can get a HACCP plan done. These ways include the following:

1. Compose traditional HACCP documents yourself according to governmental instructions, which usually takes many months and a lot of research. With this process, you need to learn everything yourself and put up the plan on your own.

2. Hire a food safety consultant, which usually takes 3-4 weeks and is very expensive. This route can provide you with solid guidance from a consultant and can speed up the process significantly but will definitely cost you more.

3. Use digital solutions like a HACCP Plan builder that have been developed to help you to save your time and resources. Creating a digital HACCP Plan yourself with the FoodDocs HACCP builder is, by far, the easiest way to get HACCP Plan done.

To help you get your HACCP plan in no time, FoodDocs is a great digital food safety management solution that can help you speed up your HACCP plan creation. Our system uses the intelligent HACCP plan builder and removes manual work involved when creating and following your plan.


Why is a digital HACCP plan better than the traditional paper-based solution?

1. Faster. Our built-in HACCP plan software takes care of the most important documentation requirements you need when making your HACCP plan. We can help you get the job done for you in just approximately 1 hour after answering a few questions related to your food processing procedures. Our system combines the expertise of food safety consultants and the food laws to build a HACCP plan that is tailored for your food business. 

2. Cheaper. Even with a 500x faster turnout, our digital solution is 15x cheaper than hiring a food safety consultant.

3. Fully customizable. Use our digital HACCP plan solution to fill all the necessary documents such as your health hazard analysis, critical control point appointments, monitoring form, and even your very own HACCP flow diagram. In addition, the sections in our HACCP plan software are customizable, and you can simply edit them to fit your operations properly. 

4. Easy to update. You also get information on when to update your HACCP Plan in our system.

5. Fast food safety monitoring system set up in case needed.

With a digitally stored HACCP Plan, you can update the HACCP Plan in just a few minutes if you decide to produce a new product or change the ingredients of the existing ones. 


creating a HACCP plan with FoodDocs Creating HACCP Plan with FoodDocs HACCP builder


Our FoodDocs mobile app keeps you on top of all your necessary food safety tasks and allows you to plan your team management to ensure all your staff is up-to-date with their food safety training. You can also use FoodDocs to create digital audit schedules, ensuring that your food business always complies with your HACCP plan.

Our HACCP plan builder also allows you to download and print your own HACCP plan for your team members and food safety consultants during an audit. Despite the HACCP system being a voluntary program, your food business will benefit from it greatly. Try our services and avail of our free 14-day trial and get HACCP compliant.


Why should I follow the HACCP process?

Whether or not following the HACCP process or getting HACCP certification is mandatory for your business, it is always advisable to create steps that ensure food safety hazard control for your business by following the 7 principles of HACCP. The impact of food safety is invaluable for any food business. Here are some of the reasons you should implement a HACCP process:


  • Customer health. The main reason you should ensure your business voluntarily follows the HACCP process is to protect the health of your customers. Minimizing the risk of spreading food poisoning to an acceptable level by intercepting hazards such as food fraud and setting up appropriate control measures and corrective actions, you are actively protecting your customers. A HACCP plan helps you keep sanitary conditions and other factors in check to favor public health.

  • Brand strength. Implementing a HACCP food safety management system does not only help you protect customers from any public health concerns. This system also builds a positive brand image for your business. Your compliance with the HACCP system builds customer trust and shows your commitment to serving only safe food product. This food safety aspect creates a great competitive advantage for your business.

  • Avoid fines and lawsuits. Without a HACCP process in place, it can be easy for your team to miss important tasks or not to have sufficient training to ensure the workplace is safe from any potential hazard. A part of the HACCP process is establishing monitoring procedures, record keeping, and verification activities for any of your food preparation processes. By implementing a HACCP process, you are less likely to end up in a situation where you are given fines as a result of a foodborne illness outbreak or for unsafe practices. Additionally, any serious food safety hazard can cause an outbreak and lead to lawsuits which can be very damaging for your brand name.

  • Economic advantage. In building a strong brand image, gaining the customer's trust as an impact on food safety is advantageous for your business in terms of profit. Customers tend to habitually use a finished product that they see as safe and dependable. Having a HACCP plan ensures an uninterrupted cash flow from continuous operations. 

  • Food quality standards increase. In hindsight, the HACCP process promotes uniformity in the food production conditions and, therefore the food products. Good manufacturing practices, which are prerequisites to the HACCP process, help in improving the quality and safety of any of your finished products.

  • Promotes team organization. The HACCP process and its implementation is a team process. It requires everyone in your food business to cooperate for it to work well. All food operators must be oriented and well-trained to become acquainted with how the HACCP process works.

  • Acts in alignment with higher food safety management systems. Most of the more stringent food safety management systems and certifications, such as the ISO 220000, base their regulatory requirements on the HACCP system in addition to some modified food product regulations. As such, having a solidly crafted HACCP process already gives you more chances to pass other certification systems.


Overall, having a comprehensive HACCP plan benefits your food business and can only improve it even more. It is the safest bet to achieve food safety throughout your operations.



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