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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
HACCP on the Internet
HACCP on the Internet
The use of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a key concept within modern food business management and is designed to set in place control systems that assure food safety by first of all assessing the various food safety risks associated with each step in the production process. On the basis of this risk assessment appropriate action can be taken with a view to minimising the possibility of any hazards to health.
Although there is opportunity for transfer of information between businesses and for the generation of generic guidelines, it should be noted that, in practice, HACCP should only be applied to a specific food business and even to specific premises.
HACCP is based upon a sequence of seven internationally agreed principles which:
Identify the hazards and list preventive measures to control them.
Determine the critical control points.
Establish tolerances at each critical control point.
Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points.
Establish what corrective action to take in case of deviation.
Establish procedures to verify that the system is working correctly.
Establish effective record keeping.
The above (abbreviated) interpretation of the seven HACCP principles is quoted from the Web site of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Other Internet sites give more detailed interpretations of the seven principles (see, for example: http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/bghaccp.html (US FDA site))
The thinking behind the HACCP system owes its origins to the US space programme. Extremely careful steps were taken to ensure that astronauts in space did not suffer from the effects of microbiological foodborne hazards (the consequences of an outbreak of foodborne illness whilst en route to the moon do not bear thinking about too closely!). NASA developed the HACCP system in collaboration with the Pillsbury Company and the US Army Laboratories at Natick. The HACCP system is scientifically based and is built upon the application of both risk assessment and risk management.
Once the principles had been established to ensure safe food for astronauts it was a relatively straightforward step to bring the applications into everyday food products to ensure food safety for everyone (not just astronauts). Similarly, although HACCP was originally devised as a means of ensuring microbiological safety of foods, its use has been extended over the years to include chemical and physical hazards in food.