Pink Leads the Charge

Building your HACCP Plan—Part 1

With the advent of the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011, many food processors are taking proactive steps to develop a HACCP Plan. As new rules related to FSMA are proposed, many processors are asking the question, “How do we develop a HACCP Plan?”

HACCP quality check in food processing facilityLet’s start with a brief review. HACCP stands for “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.” A HACCP Plan includes a series of procedures to control the process and sensitive points in the food chain, with the ultimate goal of producing consumer foods that are safe for consumers’ health.

Through our research on the subject and working with food processors, we’ve observed several suggested steps in developing an effective HACCP Plan. In this blog entry, we’ll cover three tips for developing a successful HACCP Plan. We’ll follow up with another blog to cover a few more helpful suggestions.

1. Understand the seven HACCP principles.

The United States Department of Agriculture provides seven principles for developing a HACCP Plan: 1) Conduct a Hazard Analysis, 2) Identify Critical Control Points (CCPs), 3) Establish Critical Limits for each Critical Control Point, 4) Establish Critical Control Point Monitoring Requirements, 5) Establish Corrective Actions, 6) Establish Record Keeping Procedures, and 7) Establish Procedures for Verifying the HACCP System is Working as Intended.

Realizing that’s a lot to digest right there, we suggest you visit the FSIS website to read in more detail about the seven principles and what’s involved with each one. Basically, your HACCP Plan will start with a Hazard Analysis of each product, then you’ll need to work through each point in the process to determine CCPs, then establish and monitor corrective actions for those CCPs. (See our previous blog article that covers more about CCPs.)

2. Use the power of the team.

In our observations, some of the best HACCP Plans are those developed by a team within a food processing organization. Who should be on your team depends on the structure of your organization, but typical titles included are:

  • HACCP Coordinator
  • Quality Assurance Manager
  • Plant Operations Manager
  • Engineering Manager
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Sanitation Manager and/or Supervisor
  • Shipping & Receiving (Warehouse) Manager and/or Supervisor
  • Line Supervisor and/or Machine Operator

In our experience, the HACCP Coordinator is usually the point person for the HACCP Plan. This person is ultimately responsible for coordinating and maintaining the HACCP Plan. If you don’t have a HACCP Coordinator within your organization, then your Quality Assurance Manager or even CEO may be the appropriate person to have that responsibility.

We appreciate learning more about how companies assign  HACCP responsibilities — what works and what doesn’t. Email us your thoughts on this issue at Sales@remcoproducts.com.

3. Identify the products that will be covered by the HACCP Plan.

Unless you’re a very small food processor, chances are your company produces more than one product. Thus, it’s important to identify every product that will be covered by your HACCP Plan. For each product, your Hazard Analysis should include the product name and description, its ingredients and processing methods, food safety factors involved with processing the product, how it is distributed, the product’s intended use and target consumer.

With these three steps covered, next you’ll get into the heart and soul of your HACCP Plan. For your convenience, we’ll cover more steps in our next blog entry. In the meantime, you may enjoy reading an overview of HACCP planning from the University of Florida IFAS Extension, or our white paper, “HACCP Planning for Food Safety.”