Although the process to receive HACCP certification may seem daunting, you will succeed once you follow all of the necessary steps.
What is HACCP? - 7 principles of HACCP
Whether it is a cafe, restaurant, hotel, shop, supermarket, or home kitchen making food to sell to customers – ...
Whether it is a cafe, restaurant, hotel, shop, supermarket, or home kitchen making food to sell to customers – everybody who sells or serves food must ensure food safety. In other words, every food handler must have a HACCP plan. What is this plan, exactly?
A HACCP plan is a comprehensive document that is part of an internationally recognized system. The name HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. A HACCP plan describes all the food-related activities, processes, and associated dangers your food business may experience and tells you how to deal with them in a way that is both efficient and complies with the law.
Your HACCP plan must be compatible with your business peculiarities, needs, and requirements. Even though the plan’s volume may vary depending on the range of business activity, every HACCP plan must describe all the above-mentioned processes in detail.
It is not a plan that gets drawn up and forgotten. The real HACCP meaning gets revealed through practice. If the plan is easy to use (for example in a helpful digital form), a HACCP plan becomes a tool that helps you evaluate your food safety hazards in such detail that you can literally guarantee food safety to all your customers.
When and why do you need a HACCP plan?
You need a HACCP plan for two reasons.
Firstly, having a HACCP is legally required if you serve or sell food. The existence of the HACCP plan and its compliance with the actual realities in your kitchen or food serving area is controlled by government inspectors at least once a year.
Secondly, because HACCP is a tool to reduce the risk of safety hazards in your food. The latter helps you build a loyal customer base and to grow your business. It also stops you from becoming a nasty food statistic. Did you know that in the US alone, around 48 million people get sick every year due to food-related illnesses? That is millions of people deciding not to try a specific burger truck or a restaurant ever again.
HACCP principles = steps of a HACCP plan
HACCP is made up of seven parts that are called principles. HACCP principles are the steps you need to take to manage food safety risks in your food business.
The seven HACCP principles ensure your food is kept safe throughout its life cycle, from raw material production to consumption. If you follow all the HACCP steps, your HACCP plan will make everyone nod their heads in approval, the government authorities, and your happy (and healthy!) customers alike.
Here is a quick overview of the steps of HACCP:
Principle #1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
Your first step is to identify your hazards and the size of the risk of them happening.
Principle #2: Determine critical control points (CCP).In this step, you must identify those points in your process where you can control the hazard to minimize, eliminate or reduce its effect.
Principle #3: Establish critical limits.
Those CCPs you have just determined - this HACCP principle is focused on setting critical limits for each CCP, helping you keep them within acceptable levels.
Principle #4: Establish monitoring procedures.
Since you have already established what to measure, this HACCP principle is all about determining how and when to measure your CCPs.
Principle #5: Establish corrective actions.These are the safety protocols that you can immediately put into action when required (when any CCP measurement has exceeded a critical limit for a particular hazard).
Principle #6: Establish verification procedures.
Verification involves all activities, other than monitoring, that establish the validity of the HACCP plan and ensure that your HACCP system is operating according to it. Among others, these include designating team members to oversee specific activities, appropriately scheduled validation activities, etc. It will make sense when you get there.
Principle #7: Establish documentation and record-keeping.
Accurate record-keeping is required to ensure traceability and to prove, should a food safety incident happen, that your business has taken all reasonable precautions to produce food safely.
How does a HACCP plan keep my food safe?
First of all, your HACCP plan has an overview of the business location and rooms where your food handling takes place. This will help to ensure that your employees, food, and waste all have a safe path through the rooms and past the equipment. No one wishes for pathogenic bacteria to spread from raw food to other food and surfaces.
Secondly, it gives you a full overview of all the steps related to food handling. These steps include acquiring, preserving, and cooking raw material until it is delivered to the consumer. The overview, with its description, is equally necessary for the person selling vegetables from their garden and to a big retail chain. Technological schemes and production process descriptions have their own place that helps thoroughly analyze potential threats and the actions required to address them.
For example, what precautions are taken to avoid employees’ hair and jewelry getting into food? What is done to prevent food from deteriorating due to the incorrect temperature or damaged packaging? What happens to the food when the refrigerators stop working or there is a power outage? What if the power outage only lasted 5 minutes? What if it lasted 20?
All food handlers must regularly carry out pest control, audits, laboratory analyses, training, and renew their personnel's health certificates. It is also a must to document (observe) the temperatures of all the refrigerators and the preparation times of ready-to-eat foods, in other words, fill out the monitoring sheets. All this is part of a food safety plan, making your HACCP plan a living, breathing assistant that supports you every step of the way.
It is not a scary, bureaucratic document. HACCP is a constantly changing management tool that helps to ensure food safety and quality. Equally importantly, your food safety plan also helps cut costs by avoiding defective products and threats. Not something to forget about!
Is a HACCP plan difficult to create?
Compiling a comprehensive HACCP plan takes a month on average. It demands detailed knowledge of all food safety requirements and adherence to deadlines. Large companies tend to compile a team of experts to create plans, while in small enterprises, it becomes a one-person job. Should the employees lack prior experience, the assistance of external experts and food safety supervisors is often needed, costing hundreds of dollars.
The practice has proved that the daily management of a HACCP plan, often over a hundred pages long, can be complicated and inconvenient for a company. It is difficult to know and remember everything, and not every business has the time to go through the papers all the time. This means that there is a constant threat to food safety. And the officials who come for their yearly check-ups are not allowed to approve a plan that has faulty or missing information.
Compile a HACCP plan in 1 hour
Luckily, a smart tool has entered the food business scene to wake everyone from their slumber. FoodDocs was created so entrepreneurs would not have to keep up with all the deadlines related to food safety while going through the documents and paperwork.
As a digital food safety platform, FoodDocs allows you to compile a HACCP plan within one hour, instead of month-long paper management. The program’s unique AI creates a HACCP plan according to the business activities and current requirements based on 8 questions. The questions are straightforward and anyone can answer them.
FoodDocs thinks for you and reminds you of the several obligations and deadlines that might otherwise be forgotten. For example, FoodDocs informs the kitchen teams when to monitor food core temperatures, take food analyses, order pest control, do the audits and redo hygiene training, and renew your personnel’s health certificates, all in real-time.
With FoodDocs, you can be sure that your HACCP is compiled according to the law, that all necessary requirements are fulfilled, and all the required food safety documents are included.
See how the digital food safety platform can make food safety simple, here.