What is HACCP All About?

Nov 16, 2021 | Uncategorized

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to health and safety strategies across industries. Common concepts appear in every iteration: hazards are recognized, training is provided, controls are applied, incidents are investigated, areas are inspected and equipment is maintained. However, a thoughtful and fine-tuned approach is needed for manufacturing settings in which public health and safety are on the line.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an approach to identifying hazards and applying controls that has been widely implemented across the food and beverage industry. It focuses on the key safety risks and the points in a process at which they are introduced.

When discussing food production, the principal concern is contamination by chemicals, materials (glass, plastic, or metal fragments), or – the big one – pathogens. HACCP provides a toolkit for intercepting the risk before it has a chance to contribute to an incident or to proliferate through other stock.

HACCP is recognized as a leading strategy for controlling would-be contaminants and other hazards, which is why it is now found in every part of the food industry including production, processing, handling, delivery, preparation and food service. It has been adopted for its ability to effectively control hazards at their source, and knowing how it came about sheds some light on how it achieves its goal.

HACCP’s progenitor system had their roots in manufacturing plants that produced artillery shells in World War II. At the time, they zeroed in on the now widely-accepted notion that inspection and testing at the end of the line should be secondary to proper process controls. With effective control, non-conforming parts, problems and defects could be detected and mitigated upstream, and the resulting defects thus eliminated.

The basic quality control principle evolved into HACCP in its modern form – the brainchild of the strange bedfellows of Pillsbury and NASA. Food to be consumed in space needs to have definite and effective controls implemented – the consequences of one tainted snack could be huge! Working together, they realized they shared the need of a system that could control defects when the ability to test the end product is limited or non-existent.

Here is the point in the article – if you’re like me – where you might ask: “OK, but what is it and how does it work?” Enough already on the history and philosophical background, let’s focus on the logistics.

A company pursuing HACCP certification has to first comply with the prerequisite “Good Manufacturing Practice” (GMP) regulations put in place by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulations cover hygiene, training, procedures, equipment, sterilization and record keeping, and a number of other processes germane to manufacturing process safety. It can be thought of as a companion certification to HACCP that assures the foundations are in place for successful hazard control.

Once the GMP is in place, it’s time to develop a HACCP plan. The last part of the initialism (CCP) stands for Critical Control Points, which is the major differentiator of HACCP from other hazard assessment and control methodologies. The control points are the identified steps in different processes where hazards can be introduced, such as when raw ingredients are handled, or moved from one temperature zone to another. A HACCP plan will create an inventory of processes, with their discrete process steps, and identify the control points and what will be done to control hazards.

The nature of the hazards and controls are particular to an organization, so an “out of the box” solution doesn’t fit the bill. The HACCP plan has to take into account the specific conditions of an operation and the environment in which it functions. To that end, there are HACCP training programs offered that prepare companies to create their plan that, once implemented, will be evaluated by a qualified third-party certification body and granted the HACCP certificate.

MEC Millwrighting and Rigging Inc. has extensive experience working in HACCP-controlled environments, with that training and experience built into our procedures. We plan and execute projects to meet the stringent standards and specific requirement of HACCP plans across the food and beverage industry in all of its interrelated niches. Understanding the hazard control methodology to be used at the production stage helps us tailor our service offering to ensure that critical control is foundational at every step of execution, from an empty warehouse to a humming production line, and that worker and public safety can be ensured.

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