HACCP compliance opens several doors to HACCP compliant companies for international trade associations. Learn more how to get HACCP compliant.
What is HACCP certification?
A HACCP certification serves as proof of your food establishment's commitment to upholding food safety regulations. A ...
- A HACCP certification serves as proof of your food establishment's commitment to upholding food safety regulations.
- A food manufacturing business is required to have a food safety management system to control hazards in its operations.
- A HACCP certification is awarded to a food business that has a complete and comprehensive HACCP plan and has undergone stringent audit from an accredited third-party certification body.
- What is HACCP certification?
- Who needs a HACCP certification?
- Why do you need a HACCP certification?
- How to obtain a HACCP certification?
- The role of HACCP plan in audits
- Do food safety certificates expire and how long do they last?
- How much does HACCP certification cost?
- HACCP training
- Is HACCP similar to ISO 22000 certification?
- Get ready for a HACCP certification with a digital solution
What is HACCP certification?
A HACCP certification is a document given to food processors and manufacturers as recognition that its team has developed a comprehensive and complete HACCP plan and has implemented it effectively. As a food safety management system, your HACCP plan must have a complete set of documents and procedures on how to identify and conduct an analysis of hazards, limit, control, and monitor any potential hazard in your food chain.
Your HACCP plan must be proven to be based on a scientific approach and properly identify any food safety hazard for all food products in your manufacturing company. After building your HACCP food safety programs, your company is eligible to request a food safety audit to verify the effectiveness of your plan. Once approved, a HACCP certification is provided to you.
A HACCP certification can be proof that your business is globally competitive in terms of food safety. It also gives your customers the idea that your food safety management system is excellent. The certification process is a recognition system for a business's commitment to food safety.
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Who needs a HACCP certification?
Having a HACCP plan as your food safety management system is not mandatory per se. Despite this, a food business is required to have a set of management systems aimed at keeping food safe. In addition, a HACCP plan satisfies several food laws and regulations which require accurate identification of hazards and mitigation of food safety issues such as the FSMA regulations by the FDA.
A HACCP certification is vital for you to prove to your customers and partners that your food business is running safely. As such, HACCP certification should be sought by anyone with a food business, such as;
- Catering businesses
- Food transportation companies
- Food preparation services, food truck
- Food manufacturers
- Food delivery service
Gaining HACCP accreditation is extremely helpful if you are setting up a new business. Giving your customers confidence in your food safety practices from the very beginning can give you a competitive advantage, and can help to build your brand name when starting out.
It is highly advisable for anyone working in the food industry to obtain HACCP certification. However, if you are unsure if it is necessary in your case, you should always contact your local or national regulatory authority to find out if you need it.
Why do you need a HACCP certification?
Aside from providing your customers with the right level of confidence in patronizing your products, a HACCP certification can provide you with several other advantages. These benefits can be economic, safety, and social in nature. Some advantages may include the following:
- Reduced probability of releasing unsafe food to the market
- Increased consumer confidence in the finished product
- Increased appeal to investors, suppliers, and partners
- Gain competitive advantage against other products of the same niche and in international trade
- Comply with food agency regulations
- Better management of resources and waste
- Gain entry to additional markets and greater acceptance by food processors and manufacturers
As a prerequisite to attaining a HACCP certification, your HACCP plan must be well-written, complete, and fit for your production process for safe food products. In addition, it must have already undergone application testing to evaluate its effectiveness and suitability to your business.
How to obtain HACCP certification?
The HACCP certification audit aims to review the 7 main principles of a HACCP plan. Your food business is expected to have established and shown stability in doing the following principles:
- Hazard identification and analysis of biological, chemical, or physical health hazards in all of the processing steps in each product.
- Identification of any critical control point in your manufacturing process.
- For each CCP, there should be a set of established critical limits, the maximum and minimum parameter values determining what is safe for your food (pH values, temperature, chemical levels).
- Monitoring your CCPs. Determining how you will test your foods to prove they are safe for transportation, preparation, and sale. This principle also includes documents such as monitoring procedures and forms to ensure that every result in each process is recorded and properly controlled. It also includes comprehensive verification activities if the equipment used to test the critical limits is properly calibrated.
- Corrective actions must be established. A set of procedures must be ready in cases of non-compliance to ensure that the control of food safety and food quality are maintained in addition to keeping hazards at an acceptable level. Included in this principle is the proper orientation and awareness for food workers regarding correction procedures.
- Verification tasks must be in place. For example, establishing reviews at different stages of your operational process to ensure your HACCP plan is being followed.
- Documentation is essential, keeping a detailed review of your food safety practices, ensuring you have followed your HACCP plan. These documents are records of your past operations and will serve as proof that your HACCP plan has been properly working.
The best way to ensure your HACCP certification grant is to complete your HACCP plan as much as you can and test and apply its effectiveness. It will not matter if your HACCP plan is complete if it is not fit for your food operation and you have not yet applied it. A part of the evaluation criteria involves your records of timely response to keep food safety as your priority. Reports of food safety issues because of non-compliance to food laws will cause you more time for questioning during a HACCP audit.
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How does the certification process work?
As mentioned, the HACCP certification process is obtained through a series of preparation and auditing. Completion of documents, personnel training, and internal auditing are all part of the preparation and must be done before the third-party accreditation. Your team must not only prepare your HACCP plan but also make sure that other food safety management programs are in place.
Below are steps that are involved in preparation for HACCP certification and the actual audit:
Prerequisite programs (PRP)
A HACCP plan is based on the basic food safety principles of PRPs. These programs are commonly associated with the sanitation routines of your team, facilities design, hygiene practices, and other preliminary tasks in preventing food contamination. A HACCP audit scheme will normally involve verification of building layout, equipment, and plant design. Basic hygiene practices such as maintenance of personal hygiene, hand washing facilities, and informative visual aids are important as well.
Some PRPs you should be aware of include:
- Current Good Manufacturing Practices
- Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures
- Pest control management
- Personnel hygiene
A solid HACCP Plan
Whether as a new entrant to the food industry or a long-time business owner, all food processors and manufacturers benefit from a HACCP plan. Each HACCP food safety plan is product and process-specific. This means that you will need to customize your HACCP plans to all your products. The application of HACCP to food processors and manufacturers fulfills several food regulations and laws in several countries. Because HACCP is an internationally recognized system, it can be applicable to your foreign suppliers or customers.
For a new HACCP plan, preparation entails several hours of meeting with your HACCP team. You are required to build an initial plan by identifying the key characteristics of your product, its distribution routes, intended use, and the process through a flow diagram. These are necessary steps to properly build a HACCP plan for identifying hazards, establishing critical limits, monitoring procedures, and corrective actions.
The main aim of a HACCP plan is to anticipate at which point of the food operation are food safety hazards most likely to occur. A HACCP plan must maintain a preventive nature and this aspect must be evident in your records.
If you are lost and do not know how to get your HACCP plan up and running, let us help you. At FoodDocs, we can guide you with the important documents for your food safety system and build your HACCP plan in just 1 hour.
The certification process
The whole auditing process starts by choosing a third-party auditing body which can be a volunteer certification body for food auditors under the Accredited Third-Party Certification program. When selecting your auditor, you should always check to make sure that they have the necessary qualifications and are licensed to offer the audit. This selection process ensures that your chosen auditor is competent to evaluate your manufacturing process.
Food manufacturing audits usually occur in two stages. The first stage occurs after submitting all documents required for an audit. Commonly, this stage is where the auditor evaluated your preparedness by comparing the documents you provided with the actual standards in your food safety management system.
During this stage, an auditor will suggest areas for continuous improvement. The second stage of the auditing is more in-depth. During this stage, your management system will be subjected to evaluation. Some of the activities in this stage may include:
- Onsite inspection of your food processing facility
- Interviews with food workers related to your processing and food safety keeping
- Assessment of food workers' training program on food hygiene and controlling hazards
- Review records of monitoring hazards, implementation of corrective actions to maintain standard acceptable level, and comprehensive verification procedures
- Inspection of monitoring equipment used for critical control points as well as the effectiveness of the process, storage area, and working conditions
- Check if all implemented food safety regulations are up-to-date based on your local food safety laws and regulations.
- Completeness of your HACCP plan
- Audit scope
- Size of organization
- The thoroughness of the inspection
- Amount of revisions
The role of your HACCP plan in audits
It is important to note that although you may have set up and followed a HACCP plan, this does not mean you will be HACCP certified right away. A HACCP plan is the system you put in place to monitor the food safety protocols in your business, whether you are involved in the transportation, preparation, or sale of safe food, and helps to ensure you become food safe certified. It is basically a blueprint for food safety. Depending on the type of business you are running, you will need to adjust your plan depending on the specific hazards your business is more likely to encounter.
HACCP plans are created specifically for your business so that all relevant hazards are identified and monitored. It is always advisable to research what regulatory requirements will need to be met considering your type of business. For example, you will need to meet different legal requirements when creating a plan, in order to gain seafood HACCP certification compared to HACCP certification for a cafe. In addition to being business-specific, a HACCP plan can be very specific to a food production operation or even to every product you have in your food company.
HACCP plans are vital to gaining your certification and a HACCP certification is gained by having your plans reviewed. We at FoodDocs provide the tools for you to prepare your HACCP plan digitally, so you can continuously monitor and complete any food safety tasks necessary. Using our software to generate your HACCP plan with simple customization is an extremely useful resource when creating your HACCP plan. You get to spend less time making the HACCP plan and more on applying it to your manufacturing setup.
A good HACCP plan can save you money, as it helps to prevent any contaminated products from being sold, or any unsafe practices causing your business to pay charges to regulatory authorities.
Do food hygiene certificates expire and how long do they last?
The majority of HACCP certificate expiration happens after 12 months, but consult this with your auditor before beginning the certification process. Once you have successfully received your HACCP certification, you need to know when it will have to be renewed, as your HACCP certificates expire after a certain amount of time. This is decided by the third-party auditor you have selected to carry out the audit.
Following the first HACCP audit, you undergo, you will be subjected to another surveillance audit over the next two years by your choice of the third-party certification body. These audits may or may not be announced. Different auditors will have a different time frame after which HACCP certification expiration occurs.
How much does HACCP certification cost?
- The size of your company
- Completeness of your HACCP plan and the extent of implementation
- The degree of errors in any process step and corrective actions needed to be applied to achieve a standard acceptable level
- The auditing firm you made a contract with
- The type of certification you are seeking
- Preparation processes for the audit such as training courses
- Good manufacturing practices
- Food hygiene
- Hazard identification
- Building control measures and identifying critical control points
- Proper documentation and record-keeping systems
- Significance of cross-contamination
- The role of food safety from farm-to-fork
- Common foodborne illnesses and how to avoid them
If possible, you should try to select a training that is specific to your industry type as this will likely give you the exact information you will need going forward. HACCP training courses may take up several hours. What you can do is assign a capable HACCP team member and allow him or her to disseminate the information through seminars.
Training cannot be a one-time thing. HACCP and food laws and regulations constantly change and get developed. This fact means that your team has to keep up with these changes. In addition, quarter or biannual refresher training or seminars are great practices to keep the significance of the HACCP food safety system fresh for everyone.
FoodDocs is a digital platform that streamlines the HACCP planning process. With advanced AI, FoodDocs can help you to get your HACCP plan in one hour. By using a digital plan, you will no longer need to worry about storing a huge amount of documents ready to be reviewed by a HACCP auditor, as you will have it all in one place!
Using the FoodDocs app, you can set up reminders for any food safety tasks that need to be completed, as well as keep track of your team, making sure that everyone is following your food hygiene rules. You can also create and manage your team's training to ensure everyone understands their food hygiene responsibilities.
Although the process to receive HACCP certification may seem daunting, you will succeed once you follow all of the necessary steps. Let us help you by managing your tasks for you and guiding you through making and implementing your HACCP plan and showing you how to get HACCP certification in no time.
Is HACCP similar to ISO 22000 certification?
In the food industry, there are several types of food safety management systems that all aim to control food safety issues for public health. Most of these food safety management systems are internationally recognized and are mostly based on basic good manufacturing process principles.
Perhaps the most well-recognized food safety systems are the HACCP and the ISO 22000. Although similarly aim to mitigate food safety hazards, the two programs have their differences. Generally, HACCP is the base requirement for most food companies that need to be implemented to control food safety. A HACCP plan deals with preventing food safety issues by building a plan that accurately identifies and addresses food safety hazards. It also requires the establishment of critical control points that are used to control these hazards.
On the other hand, ISO 22000 is applied to primary productions and deals with business strategies and structures. ISO 22000 is the combination of a basic food safety management system and HACCP principles to the whole food supply chain. It also deals with management and communication within the company. Where HACCP is solely concerned with food safety, the ISO 220000 program also requires quality assurance.
In addition to these differences, while HACCP is a legal requirement by the governments of the UK and the USA, ISO 22000 certification is an independent decision to be taken by the food company. That is, an ISO 22000 certification is not required but is well-received all over the world. It is regarded as one of the highest food safety management systems there is in the food industry.
In addition, other food safety management systems are also available such as the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). This food safety management system is managed by a private organization dealing with different auditing bodies. Its primary task is to maintain criteria as benchmark food safety standards for food companies. Similar to the ISO22000, the GFSI is not legally required but offers several benefits for food manufacturers.
Get ready for a HACCP certification with a digital solution
Being prepared is the key to successfully becoming HACCP certified. If you are new to the food industry setting, you may need the help of a food safety expert which means you have to spend more for consultations. Knowing how a HACCP food safety system works and its significance is an important feature of your HACCP team. Proper identification of potential hazards, setting up critical limits and critical control points, and building monitoring and comprehensive verification procedures are all part of your work on top of managing your business and keeping the sales high.
Luckily, there are many different ways to ensure that you become HACCP certified without breaking a sweat. Among these ways, the best is to let us at FoodDocs help you build your HACCP plan. Our built-in HACCP food safety software is designed to create a HACCP food safety system that is tailored to your food production operation based on your answers to some straightforward questions. We can help you satisfy the required preliminary tasks for a HACCP plan and build your flow diagram, identify potential hazards, establish critical control points, and even suggest free, downloadable templates for your monitoring records.
To ensure that our services fit your food operations best, you can customize the food system we will generate for you or seek the help of our 24/7 customer service. Our HACCP food safety plan software takes into account the food laws and regulations in your area and makes sure to comply with them for your HACCP certification success.
By availing of our HACCP food safety plan services you get to enjoy the following benefits:
- Spend 120x less when compared to hiring an external food safety consultant
- Get 500x faster results and use your time for managing instead of building a food safety system
- Implement HACCP with the guide of food safety experts
- Get to manage your team remotely and store all information in a single place online
- More secured storage for your information
In addition to these benefits, our services let you monitor food safety-related processes through our application. We can notify you of any incoming deadlines, update you on the newest revisions on regulations, and alert you in case of non-compliance in your manufacturing process. You can also build your monitoring forms using our pre-made templates that are completely customizable, downloadable, and can be printed for free!
Become HACCP certified in no time by trying out our services. Try our 14-day free trial to test how we can help you get HACCP certified.