Food handlers must receive adequate instruction and/or training in food hygiene to enable them to handle food safely. Those responsible for the HACCP-based procedures in the business must have enough relevant knowledge and understanding to ensure the procedures are operated effectively. There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or get a qualification, although many businesses may want their staff to do so. The necessary skills may be obtained in other ways, such as through on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience. The owner of the food business is responsible for ensuring this happens.
HACCP stands for ‘Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point’. It is an internationally recognized and recommended system of food safety management. It focuses on identifying the ‘critical points’ in a process where food safety problems (or ‘hazards’) could arise and putting steps in place to prevent things going wrong. This is sometimes referred to as ‘controlling hazards’. Keeping records is also an important part of HACCP systems.
HACCP involves seven principles:
Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.
Identify critical control points. These are points in a food’s production—from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer—at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.
Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.
Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.
Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met—for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.
Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly—for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.
Establish effective recordkeeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling food borne pathogens.
1.9 Need for HACCP
New challenges to the U.S. food supply have prompted FDA to consider adopting a HACCP-based food safety system on a wider basis. One of the most important challenges is the increasing number of new food pathogens. For example, between 1973 and 1988, bacteria not previously recognized as important causes of food-borne illness—such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enteritidis—became more widespread.
There also is increasing public health concern about chemical contamination of food: for example, the effects of lead in food on the nervous system.
Another important factor is that the size of the food industry and the diversity of products and processes have grown tremendously—in the amount of domestic food manufactured and the number and kinds of foods imported. At the same time, FDA and state and local agencies have the same limited level of resources to ensure food safety.
The need for HACCP in the United States, particularly in the seafood and juice industries, is further fueled by the growing trend in international trade for worldwide equivalence of food products and the Codex Alimentarious Commission’s adoption of HACCP as the international standard for food safety.
HACCP offers a number of advantages over the current system. Most importantly, HACCP:
focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food
is based on sound science
permits more efficient and effective government oversight, primarily because the recordkeeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than how well it is doing on any given day
places responsibility for ensuring food safety appropriately on the food manufacturer or distributor
helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market
reduces barriers to international trade.
ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System is based on the following pillars: