The food industry is legally mandated to ensure the safety, quality and legality of the food produced and that we all consume. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is at the core of ensuring food safety and is globally accepted as an effective way of minimizing the risk of food safety failures.
HACCP is proactive, focusing on prediction and prevention rather than post-process inspection and testing. HACCP is focused on identifying potential hazards at various stages of food production, defining preventive control measures for these hazards, setting critical limits, and monitoring compliance with these limits where critical control points (CCPs) have been identified. Such hazards span across biological, physical, chemical, allergen and even radiological domains.
A diverse HACCP team comprising roles from technical, engineering, hygiene, and production is essential for effective HACCP implementation. Moreover, having senior management commitment ensures HACCP is properly resourced and seamlessly integrated into operations and “owned” by staff, rather than perceived as an external imposition.
Relevance of HACCP
HACCP’s significance is far-reaching. Beyond being a legal mandate in many countries, it's a cornerstone in third-party food safety standards like BRCGS, ISO22000, SQF, IFS and more. Given its importance, it's almost always one of the primary areas scrutinized during external food safety audits and wider compliance activities like supplier and raw material approvals.
HACCP Process and Automation Opportunities with Primority
A conventional HACCP is always based on seven principles and follows twelve stages as defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Beginning with assembling the HACCP team, product description, and hazard analysis, right through to documentation and record-keeping. While some of these steps are intensive and rely on human judgment, opportunities for simplification and automation are abundant.
Primority’s 3iVerify software system, for instance, can play a pivotal role in automating many aspects of HACCP. The hazard identification phase, which sets the stage for all processing steps, is streamlined by choosing from a list of possible food safety hazards, leveraging AI.
Additionally, Primority's platform can facilitate allergen management by tracking which ingredients in raw materials and providing AI powered tools to help with reducing the risks associated with them and delivering a more insightful and efficient process.
The Role of Pre-Requisite Programs (PRPs) in HACCP
Integral to HACCP’s success are PRPs. Before a HACCP system is implemented, there must already be Good Manufacturing Practices already in place. Codex’s decision tree was amended a few years ago to take account of this after years of confusion on this point by adding a new question at the start of the CCP determination: "Does the pre-requisite program manage the hazard?"
PRPs are management and control activities for everything that is not related directly to the process of food production and manufacturing as these are ouitside the scope of a HACCP food safety plan. They range from supplier management, and sanitation, to pest control and training. Each PRP has its set of documentation and verification processes, and they work hand in hand with HACCP to ensure hazards are mitigated from all ends.
HACCP's Allergen Management Challenge
Given the significant number of food recalls, and sadly a number of high profile fatalities attributable to allergens, the control of allergens within HACCP has taken on new importance in the last few years.
Something as basic as ensuring the correct labels are on the product should be common place but it is easy to lose sight of the allergens in the raw materials and omit to update the label becuase as supplier did not inform you of a formulation change. This is one reason that robust supplier and raw material management is critical for food safety.
During production processes managing cross-contact, and controlling inadvertent allergen inclusion demand meticulous attention and written procedures, training and auditing to ensure standards are being followed and maintained. Primority's digital systems can assist with strong supplier and material control and written procedures in addition to regular audits to ensure your food safety management system is driving improvements and standards in a proactive and ongoign basis. This approach helps efficiently flag risks associated with ingredients, supply chains and processes, aiding in robust allergen management.
HACCP is complex, demanding not just knowledge but experience in thermal processes, microbiology, but also on how it fits into the actual operations of a food business. It needs to be drawn up, managed by the entire team and checked to ensure it continues to be effective on a regular basis. The relationship between HACCP and PRPs is not the only consideration however. How the HACCP and PRP controls will be verified on an ongoign basis is critical to maintaining standards and driving continuous improvement.
By utilizing HACCP software platforms like those in 3iVerify, the complexities inherent in HACCP can be streamlined, creating a smoother, more efficent and effective path to food safety.
Whether you're reviewing an existing HACCP plan or starting a new one, tools that simplify and automate are invaluable in today's dynamic food industry landscape.
For more information on how Primority can help you with your HACCP management, please visit https://www.primority.com/.