HACCP was introduced as a food safety system in the USA in the 1950s. It was originally developed to prevent food poisoning with astronauts during space flight. One could only imagine an astronaut in a sealed space suit suffering from sickness and diarrhea! It was developed between NASA, the Pillsbury Dough Corporation, American scientists and the American military. It originated from quality systems that were previously being used for jet engines and was subsequently adapted for food safety purposes. Hazard analysis is employed at every stage of the food operation to ensure freedom from contamination. Since 1stJanuary 2006 all food businesses must have a Food Safety Management System based on the 7 HACCP principles. Most manufacturing facilities will use a full system, but catering businesses will use a process loosely based on this system. This can be achieved using a diary system.
A critical control point is a point in the process which is classed as the last line of defence, for example cooking is a critical control point. If there is a breakdown in the system then corrective action needs to be taken which could include additional cooking, disposal of food or recall.
Control measures are actions required to eliminate or reduce a food safety hazard to an acceptable level, much like a control measure in a health and safety risk assessment. In fact HACCP is a food safety risk assessment. The hazards are identified, details of people who could be harmed are documented, additional control measures (critical control points) are introduced, the system is documented, communicated to all staff and reviewed as and when changes occur to the main process.
Corrective action is taken when results of monitoring at a critical control point indicate a loss of control, that is, a critical limit is breached. Monitoring must be carried out at or as near as is possible to the critical control points. There should not be more than 6 ccps in any catering operation, or costs of monitoring could skyrocket and the complete process would be difficult to control. Many companies have far too many ccps, many of which are control points, not critical control points, which are not critical to food safety.
A Critical control point is a step in the process where control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
A Critical limit is a monitored reference point which separates the acceptable from the unacceptable.
Targets need to be set to ensure that corrective action is taken before a critical limit is violated and food needs to be destroyed.
For more information on HACCP including Level 3 training contact Food Safety.