Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point: the systematic identification
and management of risks associated with the manufacture, distribution
and use of food ingredients.
HACCP, or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system,
is a process control system that identifies where hazards
might occur in the food production process and puts into place
stringent actions to take to prevent the hazards from occurring.
By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process,
there is less chance for hazards to occur.
is HACCP Important?
HACCP is important because it prioritizes and controls potential
hazards in food production. By controlling major food risks,
such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants,
the industry can better assure consumers that its products
are as safe as good science and technology allows. By reducing
foodborne hazards, public health protection is strengthened.
are the Major Food Hazards?
While many public opinion studies report that consumers are
concerned primarily about chemical residues, such as from
pesticides and antibiotics, these hazards are nearly non-existent.
The more significant hazards facing the food industry today
are microbiological contaminants, such as Salmonella, E. coli
O157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Clostridium botulinum.
HACCP is designed to focus on and control the most significant
HACCP is not new. It was first used in the 1960s by the Pillsbury
Company to produce the safest and highest quality food possible
for astronauts in the space program. The National Academy
of Sciences, National Advisory Committee for Mcirobiological
Criteria for Foods, and the Codex Alimentarius have endorsed
HACCP as the best process control system available today.
Does HACCP Compare to the Current Food Production and Inspection
The current food inspection program is based on a "see,
smell and touch" approach that relies more on detection
of potential hazards than prevention. Furthermore, the current
inspection program was designed in the 1930s when the threat
of diseased animals and physical contaminants were the main
concerns. Today, microbiological and chemical contamination,
which cannot be seen, are of greater interest.
Would HACCP Be Applied From Farm to Table?
For the most successful implementation of HACCP, it should
be applied from farm to table -- starting on the farm and
ending with the individual preparing the food, whether in
a restaurant or home. On the farm, there are actions that
can be taken to prevent contamination from occurring, such
as monitoring feed, maintaining farm sanitation, and practicing
good animal health management practices.
the plant, contamination must be prevented during slaughter
and processing. Once meat and poultry products leave the plant,
there should be controls in place during transportation, storage
retail stores, proper sanitation, refrigeration, storage and
handling practices will prevent contamination. Finally, in
restaurants, food service and homes, food handlers must store,
handle and cook foods properly to ensure food safety.
Can HACCP Be Applied in Distribution and Retail?
FSIS plans to work with the Food and Drug Administration and
state and local governments to begin to implement HACCP in
the distribution and retail sectors. FSIS intends to work
with FDA to develop federal standards for safe handling of
food during transportation, distribution and storage prior
to delivery to retail stores. Also, FSIS will work with FDA
to provide food safety guidance to retail stores through the
updated Food Code. The Food Code is a model ordinance intended
to serve as a guide for state and local authorities. Following
proper sanitation and handling guidelines will help ensure
that further contamination and cross contamination do not
Can Consumers Use HACCP?
Consumers can implement HACCP-like practices in the home by
following proper storage, handling, cooking and cleaning procedures.
From the time a consumer purchases meat or poultry from the
grocery store to the time they cook and serve a meal, there
are many steps to take to ensure food safety. Examples include
properly refrigerating meat and poultry, keeping raw meat
and poultry separate form cooked and ready-to-eat foods, thoroughly
cooking meat and poultry, and refrigerating and cooking leftovers
to prevent bacterial growth.