HACCP is a preventive tool that helps you manage your operations by identifying, analyzing, and addressing food safety hazards. Learn more about...
How to write a HACCP plan? Step-by-step guide & HACCP plan example
Writing a HACCP plan is crucial in keeping control of food safety in the food industry.
Writing a HACCP plan is crucial in keeping control of food safety in the food industry.
- Writing a HACCP plan involves preoperational steps such as
- establishing an interdisciplinary team,
- laying out product and market information,
- constructing a commodity flow diagram.
- establishing an interdisciplinary team,
- laying out product and market information,
- constructing a commodity flow diagram.
- The 7 steps of writing the HACCP Plan are:
- Identify and analyze all hazards
- Establish critical control points (CCP)
- Set up critical limits
- Build a monitoring procedure system for CCPs
- Identify corrective action procedures
- Verify the whole HACCP plan
- Record-keeping and documentation
- FoodDocs automatic HACCP plan builder generates a complete food safety plan fit for your business in less than an hour.
Several hours of thought processes and physical inspections may go into making this food safety management plan. Building a comprehensive and accurate HACCP plan shows your committed approach to food safety for your consumers. A HACCP plan can help prevent any unacceptable health risk and the occurrence of any severe illness as a result of consuming your food products.
In addition to being a mandate in many countries, making a HACCP plan ensures that your business or manufacturing plant only serves and produces safe food items free from hazards. If you are a new food industry player, the biggest question you might have is probably "How to write a HACCP plan?"
WHAT WE'LL COVER:
- How do you complete a HACCP plan?
- How do you manually write HACCP?
- Why are HACCP plans important?
- HACCP example
A HACCP plan is an internationally recognized food safety management system that addresses the hazards in your food operations by carefully identifying them and assigning preventive measures. This food safety system aims to prevent any foodborne illness and other adverse health consequences of poor food safety practices from occurring.
We also invite you to read more about the HACCP definition. Writing a HACCP plan involves several subsequent steps that you need to follow to achieve the system's best advantages.
Learn how to make a HACCP plan the traditional way and find out a way to make a comprehensive plan in just 1 hour at the end of this article.
How do you complete a HACCP plan?
Creating a HACCP plan needs preparation and the correct mindset. A HACCP is a written plan that properly addresses the food safety risks of your food business, which requires focus and adequate knowledge about food safety and related manufacturing operations.
Making your own HACCP plan in-house promotes a sense of ownership and a general understanding of your food operations. In case of problems, you can resolve unexplained system failures if you know your plan in-depth. While making a HACCP plan from scratch can be tedious, some businesses seek the advice of independent experts such as food safety consultants from regulatory agencies in the food industry.
Before going into detail about how to make a HACCP plan, there are a few basic preparation steps that you need to fulfill to ensure the success of your HACCP food safety system.
1. Review your prerequisite programs
The first step to creating a HACCP plan is to check your prerequisite programs. These programs are an essential foundation of your HACCP initial plan and ensure the basic conditions of food processing. They address minimum quality standards regarding your sanitation design, general food safety and hygiene practices, employee health, proper environmental conditions, and proper employee training.
Guaranteeing that your food business implements and maintains basic prerequisite principles and sanitary conditions ensure that low-risk health hazards are controlled to an acceptable level. It also ensures that a solid foundation of the approach to food safety is in place.
Some basic prerequisite programs that can easily address low-risk food safety concerns may include:
- Sanitation standard operating procedures
- Sanitation design principles
- Proper layout of your food business (e.g., one-direction flow, easy-to-clean walls, and availability of handwashing facilities)
- Food safety posters and reminders
- Air and water controls
- Employee training on food hygiene
- Effective pest control program
- Proper waste management
2. Build your HACCP team: Who is responsible for creating the HACCP plan?
Individuals responsible for creating the HACCP plan are key company employees from each department in your food business. Building a HACCP plan is not the sole responsibility of a food business manager. Before you can put up a plan, you will need to build your HACCP team. Your team must consist of people who know how to make a HACCP plan or its basic principles.
To make an efficient team for your HACCP plan-making, your members must come from the different sections of your food production process to offer expert advice from their fields. Having a team of purely quality control personnel or just a food manufacturing plant manager may lack the necessary information regarding equipment's technicalities. Similarly, a team composed entirely of only food engineers may lack expertise in quality control aspects.
Some of the members who will be tasked with establishing your HACCP system may include representatives from the quality assurance, engineering, manufacturing, logistics, and managerial departments. Each representative must have substantial information about how the business operates. They will be responsible for raising both safety and quality concerns about the HACCP system concerning their departments and contributing to addressing them.
3. Identify general information about your company
A HACCP plan is a food safety management specific to a food business. It sets out rules, standards, and control measures for operating to produce safe food products. As such, it is important to identify the nature of your business, products, and processes to become the basis of your HACCP system. Below are some of the most important information that you need to provide for your HACCP plan:
Describing the product you are analyzing gives your team an idea of what hazards may be involved. This process involves giving a complete description of the product, including its ingredients, allergen information, specifications, processing methods, method storage, physical dimensions, visual appearance, and other specific information.
Your product description becomes more useful if the details become very specific. Information such as the chemical and physical parameters of the raw materials and the finished product's titratable acidity level, moisture level, water activity, salt concentration, product formulation control, and chemical composition will contribute to hazard identification and their analysis. This information may also include specifications from suppliers, including minimum microbiological pathogen load.
- Identify your product's intended use and intended consumers
In this step, your team is tasked with recognizing how the product should be used. Is the product intended to be cooked, ready-to-eat, or further processed? These questions must be answered to identify the nature of your product and its related hazards to it.
Your team will also be responsible for identifying which market segment your product is made for. This step is particularly essential if your product is intended for niche consumers, which pertain to those who have intolerances or weak immune systems. These groups include infants, pregnant, the elderly, and individuals with special diet needs.
- Develop a block-type flow diagram of your food service operations
This flow chart diagram is an overview of the whole production process of your food processing plant, from receiving the raw materials to the distribution procedures of the finished safe products. Your simple schematic diagram describes the process steps needed to produce a specific product which means all inward and outward flows of processes must be included.
Your process flow diagram must be accurate and comprehensive. We emphasize this importance because this flow chart will be your basis for later steps in knowing how to write a HACCP plan. Process flow charts differ depending on the type of product you are trying to analyze. The process of making a sandwich is very different from the food preparation process of pasteurizing milk.
4. Verify all preparatory steps
Traditionally, this step calls for an on-site monitoring & verification procedure for your commodity flow chart. We suggest applying the whole comprehensive verification activities to all of the mentioned preparatory steps.
All of these verification steps are vital to preparing your whole food business in making a HACCP plan the traditional way. Check for any spots in the preparatory plan that have been missed during any activity of verification.
How do you manually write HACCP?
After completing all prerequisite steps, you are ready to write a HACCP plan. These steps apply the seven major principles of a HACCP food safety program. In this section, we will apply these principles to restaurant businesses or retail food stores and answer the question, "How to write a HACCP plan for a restaurant?"
The key to making a comprehensive HACCP plan for a restaurant, or any food business for that matter, is the attention to detail and proper execution of each HACCP principle.
Below are the HACCP writing stages and ways how to make food HACCP plan examples:
1. Identify and analyze all hazards
A HACCP plan aims to address potential hazards in food before they even happen. To do this, accurate identification of all the potential food safety hazards in your operations must be done. These potential hazards may be classified as
- biological hazard (e.g., enteric pathogens such as cells of Salmonella and E. coli)
- physical hazard (e.g., stones, glass, seeds)
- chemical hazard (e.g., cleaning solution)
They must be listed for further hazard analysis and identification of at which point they would most likely occur.
In hazard identification, consider listing their likelihood of occurrence and the degree of damage assessment for illness caused in addition to their proper identification. Hazards are quite specific to the type of food you are producing and the operations you are using. Some of the most common, unsafe food safety hazards in a restaurant or food service setup that can cause foodborne illness to consumers may include:
- High level of contamination in raw material production and receiving
- Contamination due to poor personal hygiene
- Cleaning and sanitation
- Food allergens
- Preparation of raw materials
- Inadequate cooking process to the correct internal temperature
- Improper product storage conditions (e.g., food temperature control, sanitation, and ventilation)
- Poor pest control
- Proper packaging materials (e.g., for takeout)
Safe food products can only be produced if your team properly performs hazard identification and analysis. This step is vital for setting up control measures in your operations.
2. Establish critical control points (CCP)
Identifying which among your controllable processing steps is a critical control point is also a mandatory element in knowing how to make a HACCP plan. Each process drawn in your complete flow diagram must pass through a set of evaluations for the identification of CCPs. These critical control points are any step in your operation where measurable controls and critical limits can be applied to control specific hazards to an acceptable level.
Critical control points are your company's main defense against hazards. Evaluation of control measures can be done using established scientific literature surveys or decision tools such as a HACCP decision tree or a food risk assessment matrix.
Read more about whether to choose a HACCP Decision tree or a risk assessment matrix.
In each step, one or multiple hazards may be addressed and must be listed under a food operation for evaluation. CCPs must be consistently applied to every batch of food products your serve. Examples of CCPs may include the following for a restaurant business and other food establishments:
- Receiving and food supply
- Conditions of storage
- Cooking to minimum safe temperatures or other thermal processing
These critical control point examples may be more specific for some food businesses. Some operations such as microbiological testing products or physical and chemical measurements or analytical testing may be applied to verify the effectiveness of CCPs in controlling hazards that may cause severe health effects.
A concrete example of a CCP in a restaurant is cooking beef patties. Undercooked beef patties have been related to causing severe illnesses in consumers due to the unwanted multiplication of pathogens. This is caused by the prevalence of pathogenic microorganisms that can be inactivated through adequate cooking of beef patties.
In this scenario, the proper cooking process to correct internal temperatures can be considered as a CCP since there will be no further processing after this step. The CCP ensures that cooked beef patties, including other raw meats, are safe for consumption.
3. Set up critical limits
Identifying the risk level and likelihood of occurrence of a food safety hazard in combination with CCPs leads to establishing critical limits. These limits are the lowest and highest tolerable values and control factors for your critical control for safety. The critical limit deviation may lead to the production of hazardous foods.
For a restaurant food business, typical critical limits are usually related to the acceptable time-temperature combination for cooking food, pH of beverage and water, minimum chlorine level for sanitizing solution, and correct holding temperature.
Critical limits can be science-based facts for standards such as the minimum and maximum limits for raw meat's internal temperature for cooking. Breach of critical limits may lead to the production of unsafe food.
A good example of setting critical limits is when storing foods away from ambient temperature or the temperature danger zone. High-risk foods must be stored using hot or cold holding procedures.
The general method of storage rule is for any safe food product to not stay for more than two hours in temperature ranges between 41°F to 140°F (5°C to 60°C) or microbial pathogens may spoil the food. For cold holding at 41°F (5°C) or lower, the critical limit would be 41°F (5°C). Improper storage beyond this point, corrective actions must be applied to the non-compliant product.
4. Build a monitoring procedure system for CCPs
To ensure that the CCPs do their intended purpose, your HACCP team is tasked with establishing CCP monitoring procedures and have the responsibility for oversight of production. These monitoring activities aim to record a sequence of observations for CCPs and will serve as documentation after the food operations. They can serve as proof that your HACCP food safety plan is working.
Monitoring forms are composed of several parameters that need to be filled by the person in charge. These parameters vary in frequency of continuous monitoring. Each CCP will need a corresponding monitoring form to determine any loss of control in their critical limits. A good monitoring form must be comprehensive and flexible. Some components of a monitoring record may include:
- Parameters to monitor and procedures for monitoring
- Person in charge
- Summary and remarks
For a restaurant food business, monitoring techniques will require you to create logs for the following activities:
- Internal temperature logs
- Critical limit monitoring logs
- Corrective action log
- Deviation log
The responsibility for monitoring must be clearly communicated to knowledgeable food handlers.
5. Identify corrective actions
A HACCP plan is not a zero-risk approach. This means there may be lapses in the system, especially if there is due maintenance in the operations or other unforeseen circumstances. Corrective actions aim to gain control over the operations again and address the remaining food safety risk with little to no compromise to the food products.
Corrective actions are meant to maintain food safety when critical control points fail to do their jobs. In establishing corrective actions, an employee must be assigned to conduct the task and audit why the corrective action was applied.
An example of corrective action in a restaurant setup would be if in case a thermometer failed to read the correct temperature on the food for consumption. The first corrective action may be to prolong the cooking time and use a different thermometer to address this. After the process, ensure the calibration schedules for all thermometers to prevent similar instances. Calibration schedules must always be followed to ensure consistently accurate records.
6. Verify the whole HACCP plan
Learning how to write a HACCP plan means knowing that this food safety system is based on scientific facts and that all steps must be validated. This step aims to ensure that all procedures work and achieve their targeted functions when needed. The initial validation step can be in the form of internal audits.
Validation of your system is not a one-time thing. This procedure is a commitment to ensuring that your HACCP food safety system is still effective and does not need to be revised. External audits and health inspections from regulatory agencies are occasionally conducted to validate your system.
Your verification procedures include product testing, CCP evaluation, in-house plant observations, revision of operational limits, and review of monitoring records.
7. Record-keeping and documentation
A HACCP plan is a system that requires extensive documentation. Every monitoring, revision, deviation, corrective action record, sampling system, layout, employee training record, certificate, calibration records, and verification report must be properly documented. Individuals responsible for recordkeeping are required to keep all these documents for at least a minimum of 2 years for future verification and reviews.
Proper documentation is key proof that your food business has successfully implemented your HACCP plan and that your team is performing their assigned tasks. If in case a known hazard occurs in your operations, your record will be proof for regulatory agencies that you applied control measures to bring the hazard to an acceptable level.
A great way how to create a HACCP plan accurate record-keeping system is to have sets of templates for all your procedures. This allows you to easily add in new information and tailor the forms to your food business.
Why are HACCP plans important?
Food safety teams write a HACCP plan to identify and analyze food hazards and establish operations that will control or eliminate these potential hazards. A HACCP plan is an important food safety management document to help food business owners prevent loss of control over food safety and protect their consumers from any foodborne illness by establishing basic conditions of safety.
Every food business needs a safety plan with proper control measures to produce safe food products. The HACCP plan is considered one of the standard plans in the food chain and has been adopted by different countries and organizations worldwide for educational programs on food safety. Several HACCP-based food safety plans are present in the food industry. HACCP ensures that a food business does not have unsafe operating conditions that will affect the production of wholesome foods on a continuous basis.
Why does a HACCP plan need to be written?
A HACCP plan prepares your team for any food safety hazard and prevents issues from occurring. Early detection of contaminants and trends towards loss of control can save your food business a lot of effort and resources in addressing food safety issues. With a working HACCP plan, less end-product testing and post analyses would be required for the purposes of product safety.
Food businesses equipped with a comprehensive HACCP plan are more likely to have an immediate solution in case of non-compliance. A HACCP plan also ensures that food handlers in your business are equipped with the basic knowledge of food handling practices that promote safety.
What is a HACCP example?
A food HACCP plan example and criteria for food safety will vary depending on the type of food operations you have in your food business. There may be some general food safety hazards that are common in almost all food businesses, but there will be unique hazards to include.
Below is an example HACCP plan to help you visualize what it would look like and how can our team at FoodDocs help you:
At FoodDocs, our digital solution can help you create a customizable HACCP plan template. This template includes some of the most important food safety plan components based specifically on your food operations.
How does our system do that? By answering basic questions our system presents, our solution cross-references the information with our digital food safety knowledge library and uses artificial intelligence to generate the template.
Some of the food safety questions include:
What is your business type?
What raw materials are used?
What kind of food do you sell?
How big is the volume?
What duties do you have in your business?
As seen in the example of the HACCP plan above, our digital solution can generate the most important information for you. What's even greater is that you can customize the information to fit your business better.
Digital solution to your HACCP plan
The whole process of how to create a HACCP plan is how it has always been in the food industry. This HACCP plan-making process requires significant time to conceptualize, validate, and revise control measures. In addition, the whole HACCP plan will generate extensive paperwork that you will need to organize for audits. This type of HACCP plan can be prone to errors and require your team's attention 24/7.8
What if we told you there is a better way to write your HACCP plan? To help you create a comprehensive and working HACCP plan, FoodDocs is the only digital solution that offers an automatic HACCP plan template builder. We aim to create the best fit HACCP system for your food business. You can get a comprehensive HACCP plan template through our system in just 1 hour! No more long hours of meetings and revisions.
Our system generates a customizable HACCP plan template based on your answers to a few questions about your business. This helps us identify the necessary procedures and forms related to your food business and tailor the HACCP plan for you.
Here is an example of the table of contents of a HACCP plan template you will get when you sign up with us at FoodDocs.
Here are some of the advantages that you will get once you choose our services:
- All generated information is based on the knowledge of our food safety experts, who have worked in the food chain industry for many years stored in a machine learning program. This program additionally cross-references your food business with other similarly-natured ones for better suggestions.
- We finish all preparatory tasks for your HACCP plan-making. We automatically generate complete block-type flow diagrams of your food business which you can edit and customize for confirmation. Some tasks are very specific to your business, so we let you edit the flow chart.
- We automatically identify all potential hazards related to your food business.
- Our system evaluates the identified food hazards through an established risk assessment matrix. We identify their level of likelihood of occurrence and potential damage. We then suggest which action level is required for each hazard based on our risk assessment matrix (e.g., critical point, critical control point, prerequisite program, or operational prerequisite program)
- Save time from manually making a HACCP plan. Our system can get you the plan template you need 500x faster than hiring a food safety consultant.
- Our system accounts for major food safety rules and legislation in your area.
- Our HACCP plan template builder is compatible with food service and retail food stores.
- All information is stored in single cloud storage for safekeeping. Allowing you to implement your HACCP food safety system more sustainably.
There is literally no more reason for you not to go digital to prevent loss of control of food safety. All it takes is about an hour of your time to build your digital HACCP plan with our services, and you can try our HACCP builder free for 14 days.
Create all of the necessary HACCP plan documents with FoodDocs and get HACCP compliant in no time. Our services also ensure that our very responsive customer service department will properly assist you should you have any questions or concerns.
With us at FoodDocs, get HACCP compliant and prepare for any food safety audit. FoodDocs can satisfy both traditional and digital food safety systems as you can download and print the HACCP plan we generate for you. Start your HACCP food safety journey with us.