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What is HACCP and How Does it Reduce the Risk of a Foodborne Illness?

Here’s a little tidbit you may not have known. Pillsbury created the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point management system. You know what else is pretty cool, the HACCP principles were originally implemented by NASA. There’s a reason that Neapolitan ice cream is deliciously freeze dried! Like NASA, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grasped […]

Here’s a little tidbit you may not have known. Pillsbury created the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point management system. You know what else is pretty cool, the HACCP principles were originally implemented by NASA. There’s a reason that Neapolitan ice cream is deliciously freeze dried!

Like NASA, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grasped the gravity of the food safety hazards and has since grown rather fond of this approach to proactive food safety policies. Today, the FDA strongly recommends that all commercial kitchens voluntarily create their own HACCP plans.

Though HACCP is not a necessarily a requirement – restaurants are regulated by their respective state, local or tribal government – it has become the industry’s recognized best practice and most states have adopted the Food Code because it reflects the FDA’s best advice for a uniform system of regulation.

As food preferences, food safety legislation and demand on the supply chain shift, operators have to ensure their food safety plans uphold these guiding principles and adapt to whatever the FDA or state-level government throws their way.

What is HACCP?

HACCP, or the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system, is a process control system that identifies where hazards might occur in the food production process and puts into place stringent actions to prevent the hazards from occurring. By strictly monitoring and controlling each step of the process, operators reduce the risk of a food safety issue occurring.

It sounds like a lot to take in. So, let’s break it down.

What are the guiding principles of the HACCP standards?

1. Perform a Hazard Analysis

This first steps is to ensure that you fully understand the food safety risk factors within your operation. Examples include: implementation of employee health policies or preventing ill employees from working while sick.

2. Identify the Critical Control Points (CCPs)

These are the potential points of failure in your procedures that could result in a food safety issue. Examples include: cooking, cooling, re-heating, holding.

3. Establish critical limits

Once you identify your Critical Control Points, the next step is to establish critical limits for preventive measures associated with each CCP. A critical limit is a criterion that must be met for each CCP.

4. Establish procedures to monitor the CCPs

Monitoring may require materials, devices or observations to measure and evaluate the CCPs. Example: When cooking pork chops, the Food Code sets the critical limit at 145 F for 15 seconds.

5. Establish a HACCP plan

This plan should include corrective actions when critical limits are not met. Operators must decide on a plan, communicate it to their employees and train them appropriately.

6. Establish verification procedures

This ensures that the system is sound and effective in preventing food safety hazards. Examples include: monitoring employee activities, logging food temperatures, calibrating equipment and reviewing records and corrective actions taken.

7. Establish effective recordkeeping

Keeping a record of your restaurant’s food safety procedures throughout every step of the process is the best way to ensure that your HACCP procedures are working well.

How can the application of HACCP benefit my restaurant?

The success of your food safety plan relies on transparent communications, interactive training programs and a highly involved management team. While there is a lot to consider and implement, not taking these HACCP standards into considering or regular practice could put you on the “failed inspection” list or worse, out of business completely.

Benefits of a food safety plan that includes HACCP principles

Operational consistency

Get everyone on the same page through training and electronic collaboration

Improved customer experience

Gain their trust and keep them coming back!

Highly engaged workforce

Lower retention naturally with training opportunities and clear expectations

Risk Mitigation

Sleep well at night with the knowledge that you are implementing best practices in your business for the protection of your customers and team members!

Sources: HACCP Questions and Answers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://haccpalliance.org/alliance/haccpqa.html

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