HACCP Plans Ensure Better Food Safety

7 HACCP Principles

Improper food safety in a commercial kitchen can result in unsafe food temperatures or cross-contamination. Although observing basic food safety guidelines, like making sure employees practice proper handwashing techniques and maintaining your equipment, is an important part of ensuring food safety, creating a HACCP plan will help your establishment identify and eliminate hazards before they become a danger to your food or customers.

Before creating a HACCP plan, decide which members of your staff will be responsible for implementing and maintaining the plan. Then follow these seven HACCP principles to create a food safety management system that will help your kitchen ensure food safety and adhere to safety guidelines and codes.

The 7 HACCP Principles

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis. Determine any potential biological, chemical, or physical hazards, which may include sensitive ingredients, packaging materials, and the use of potable water or presence of antibiotics or pesticide residue. Due to variables like equipment, menus, and location, each restaurant or foodservice operation will have a unique set of hazards to consider. After determining which hazards could compromise the safety of your food, recognize the measures you can take to prevent them.

  2. Identify critical control points. A critical control point, or CCP, is the point at which a procedure can be applied to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard. After determining which hazards to watch out for, you can decide which CCP should be put into place. For example, testing chicken with a cooking thermometer is a CCP because it prevents an establishment from serving chicken that isn’t cooked to a safe temperature.

  3. Establish critical limits for each CCP. Each CCP must have guidelines and limits, like measures with a scientifically-based critical limit and at least one mandatory criterion, which will establish acceptable and unacceptable parameters for eliminating or controlling the hazard. In the previous example, one critical limit for chicken is that it must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Establish CCP monitoring requirements. Critical control points must be monitored constantly or on a regular basis, and your HACCP plan should include a schedule or instructions for how often each CCP will be monitored. This will help you know if a CCP is not being met or maintained.

  5. Establish corrective actions. Corrective actions should be taken if non-compliance with or deviation from an established CCP becomes an issue, or if an established CCP is no longer effective. A corrective action can be as simple as fixing faulty equipment, such as a refrigerator that is no longer maintaining proper temperatures, or throwing out food that has been improperly stored and might no longer be safe.

  6. Establish verification practices. Verification includes any methods, aside from monitoring, that help ensure your food safety management plan is effective. This includes making sure that all possible hazards have been identified, the procedures in place (including CCPs, issues, and resolutions) are effective for your establishment, and the created HACCP plan is being observed by all employees.

  7. Document your system. In addition to making sure your HACCP plan itself is well-documented, which will help you ensure that it is as effective as possible and understood by employees, keep a written log of how you address each HACCP principle. Knowing this history and documenting all procedures will provide valuable information to you and your health inspector.

Following the seven HACCP principles when creating your kitchen's food safety management system will help keep your food products and customers safe. To make implementing your plan easier, consider adding HACCP color-coding products to your kitchen.