Compliance, food safety

Introduction to HACCP

Definition of HACCP

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is “a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards.” Proper implementation of HACCP systems provides the framework to produce foods safely and to prove they were produced safely.

HACCP systems:

  • specifically focus on food safety, not all attributes constituting food quality,
  • are applicable to all phases of food production,
  • focus on prevention and control of potential food safety hazards rather than inspection, and
  • emphasize the use of science and technology to ensure the production of safe food.

Origins of HACCP

Food safety management systems, including HACCP, have evolved from total quality management systems developed by W.E. Deming in the 1950s. Deming emphasized a systems approach to manufacturing which managed all aspects of product quality.

HACCP food safety systems also trace their origins to work by the Pillsbury Company, United States Army, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on food safety for manned space flights in the 1960s. Given the critical importance of food safety for the astronauts, a “zero defects” program was developed for space foods which emphasized process control as opposed to end-product testing. This emphasis on process control is a defining characteristic of modern HACCP systems.

HACCP was officially adopted as a recommended approach for food safety management by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1993. The document “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System and Guidelines for its Application” was included as Annex A to the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene in 1997.


Food Safety Hazards

A food safety hazard is defined by the Codex Alimentarius as “a biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.”

Examples of compounds that could be food safety hazards include the following:

Biological Hazards

  • Bacterial Pathogens
    • Pathogenic Escherichia
    • coli strains
    • Salmonella
  • Parasites
    • Cryptosporidium parvum
    • Cyclospora cayetanesis
  • Viruses
    • Norovirus
    • Hepatitis A virus

Chemical Hazards

  • Natural Toxins
    • shellfish toxins
    • mushroom toxins
  • Allergens
  • Heavy Metals
    • Mercury
    • Cadmium
  • Drugs
    • Used in aquaculture
    • Used in animal husbandry
  • Insecticides or Fungicides

Physical Hazards

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Bone (when not expected)
  • Hard or sharp foreign objects


Prerequisite Programs and HACCP

Before a HACCP system can be implemented, the company must be operating in accordance with good hygiene and good manufacturing practices.  The Prerequisite programs (PRPs) provide the strong foundation which is necessary to ensure the food facility is capable of producing safe food. These PRPs must be in place before effective HACCP programs can be implemented.

The improtance of effective PRPs cannot be overstated, as they are the foundation of the HACCP plan. Inadqueate PRPs may lead to additional critical control points that would have to be identified, monitored and maintained under the HACCP plan.

The following are examples of common prerequisite programs :

  • Building and equipment design, fabrication and maintenance
  • Production line design and product flow
  • Cleaning and disinfection programs
  • Equipment calibration
  • Management commitment
  • Supplier approval
  • Product Specifications
  • Water quality
  • Staff hygiene practices
  • Staff training
  • Staff health
  • Pest control
  • Waste control
  • Storage and Distribution
  • Product recall



As stated previously, HACCP is “a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards.”

Key to the effective implementation is the written HACCP Plan, which is a document prepared in accordance with the principles of HACCP to ensure control of hazards that are significant for food safety in the segment of the food chain under consideration.

It is important to note that HACCP plans are specific to a food product and process. The plan is written by the HACCP team at the firm based upon the specific conditions in that facility. Any changes in product characteristics or processing steps will likely necessitate re-evaluation of the written HACCP plan.

The written HACCP plans at two facilities that are producing the same food product are likely to be different due to a variety of reasons including differences in types of equipment used, management of prerequisite programs, and other factors.

HACCP Getting Started

Design and implementation of effective HACCP systems requires systematic planning and execution. The preliminary steps necessary before implementing a HACCP plan include the following:

  1. Assemble the HACCP Team
  2. Describe the Food and its Distribution
  3. Describe the Intended Use and Consumers of the Food
  4. Develop a Flow Diagram Which Describes the Process
  5. Verify the Flow Diagram

These steps must be completed prior to beginning work on HACCP Principle 1.


You can read this for free once you Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

The Seven Principles of HACCP

Following the effective completion of the HACCP preliminary steps, the team is ready to begin the process of writing the HACCP Plan. Writing the plan is a seven-step process which must occur in the following sequence.

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis
  2. Determine the CCPs
  3. Establish critical limits
  4. Establish monitoring procedures
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish verification procedures
  7. Establish record keeping and documentation

Follow us as we will cover the basic concepts of each of these HACCP principles in future posts.

Follow Provisio Circle, Ltd. on

If you need help with your food safety plan Contact Us


© 2012 APEC Secretariat, Michigan State University and The World Bank Group.

Original Modules available at and

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.