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HACCP, the foundation of safe manufacturing

Whether your goal is cGMP, ISO, or GFSI certification you’ll need a strong HACCP plan first. HACCP is a formal methodology to identify and mitigate food safety hazards. HACCP serves as the foundation of a food or dietary supplement company’s food safety plan.  HACCP plans are built upon prerequisite programs and attempt to identify one or more Critical Control Points(CCPS) that are points in the production process where hazards can be reduced, eliminated, or controlled.

To assist in the prevention and reduction of potential food safety hazards and foodborne illness, it is imperative that food manufacturing companies establish and implement a Food Safety Plan, based on the seven principles of HACCP.

What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. The concept was developed in the 1960s by a team of food scientists, engineers, research laboratories, and NASA. Today, HACCP’s seven principles form the foundation of Food Safety Plans worldwide. The risk-based system is applied to processes throughout every stage of the food supply chain, including production, processing, packaging, and distribution.

What are the seven principles of HACCP?

The seven HACCP principles act as a framework, allowing manufacturing companies to manage and control food safety risks. They include:

  1. Conducting A Hazard Analysis
  2. Determining Critical Control Points
  3. Establishing Critical Limits
  4. Establishing Monitoring Procedures
  5. Establishing Corrective Actions
  6. Establishing Verification Procedures
  7. Establishing Record-Keeping & Documentation Procedures

Conducting A Hazard Analysis

Once the five preliminary steps are complete, the first formal step is to create a hazard analysis. This consists of identifying food safety hazards that could be introduced or controlled through ingredients or process steps. Food safety hazards are defined as anything that can cause illness or injury to the consumer, such as:

  1. Biological contamination (e.g. bacteria or viruses)
  2. Physical contamination (e.g. glass, metal, or wood)
  3. Chemical contamination (e.g. mycotoxins, pesticides, or cleaning agents)

Determining Critical Control Points (CCPs)

Once you have evaluated potential hazards, it’s important to identify Critical Control Points(CCPs). A CCP is a point in the process where controls may be applied to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards. What are the specific steps in your process that will keep your food safe?

Common critical control points may include:

  • kill steps – cooking, washing, pasteurizing
  • allergen labelling
  • receiving – verify raw material specifications via COAs or testing
  • foreign material mitigation such as metal detection or x-ray

It’s important to remember CCPs are unique to your specific business and there is no universal guide that can be used to identify them all. This is why it’s important for a trained HACCP professional to create the hazard analysis and determine appropriate CCPs and other control points in your process.

Establishing Critical Limits

Critical limits are the minimum and maximum values in which CCP’s can fluctuate yet remain effective. A critical limit should be established for each CCP identified. Critical limits are generally measurable values that can be determined with equipment or through a simple confirmation, such as:

  • time/temperature of cooking
  • wash water sanitizer concentration
  • pH
  • metal fragment size standards

Establishing Monitoring Procedures

Once critical limits are established, they must be maintained throughout manufacturing to ensure food remains safe at each step. Monitoring procedures focus on maintaining CCPs within critical limits. Monitoring procedures should answer who, what, where, when, and how the CCP is monitored.

Establishing Corrective Actions

A deviation is a failure to meet a critical limit. When deviations occur, corrective actions should be taken to ensure potentially contaminated food does not enter the food supply.

The steps that accompany a corrective action should be:

  • determine the root cause of the deviation
  • correct the deviation
  • documenting the deviation

In some cases, correcting a deviation may not be possible, which typically results in the proper documentation and disposal of contaminated food.

Establish Verification Procedures

Consider your Food Safety Plan a “living document”. It should be reevaluated and revised periodically to ensure its effectiveness. Review your monitoring charts, analyses, and all documentation to obtain the best insight into how your Food Safety Plan should be adjusted and improved. These points should help you determine any gaps or weak links in your current system.

Questions you might ask yourself and your team when reevaluating your Food Safety Plans are:

  • Added any new products or equipment?
  • Changed any formulations or process steps?
  • Updates to food safety laws or regulations that will impact operations?
  • Do any patterns in records point at opportunities to improve?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, it should be addressed in your revised plan.

Establishing Record-Keeping & Documentation Procedures

As noted in the previous principle, accurate record-keeping is vital to your company’s organization practices and acts as an effective tool for tracking and responding to food safety hazards.

Some of the day-to-day records to keep might include:

  • delivery checklists
  • signed-off cleaning checklists
  • storage temperature recordings
  • pest inspection results
  • staff training records
  • corrective actions
  • equipment maintenance / service records
  • batch production records

It’s common for Health Inspectors to ask for Food Safety Plans and other documentation in the event of a health inspection, so it’s essential to make sure employees are familiar with the location of records when requested.

If your company is considering cGMP, ISO, or GFSI certification, HACCP is the first step and Avert FSA is here to help. From training of your staff to creation and implementation of HACCP and food safety plans, our experienced team of advisors is ready to assist.

Your company’s reputation and customer base should always be top priority. Let Avert FSA help you safeguard your business and protect your brand. Call us today at 702-706-6574 or visit our website.



Matthew McClure provides sound strategies that instill cost-effective methods for building robust food safety, operational and quality assurance programs. Along with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Microbiology from The University of Akron and an MBA in Finance from Louisiana State University, Matthew brings over 20 years of experience in the food safety industry to AVERT Food Safety Advisors. His knowledge spans many areas including FDA food processing facilities, USDA meat and poultry plants, dietary supplement manufacturers, retail, cannabis manufacturing, and food service operations.

Contact us for more information: | Tel: +1 702.706.6574

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