How to Create a HACCP Plan? Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

Are you wondering how to develop or write a HACCP plan? If so, keep reading because this article is for you. A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is the core element of most food safety systems. Chances are ...

How to create a HACCP Plan

Are you wondering how to develop or write a HACCP plan? If so, keep reading because this article is for you.

A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is the core element of most food safety systems. Chances are if you are reading this article it’s because you have been told that you need to have a HACCP Plan to make or produce your food in a way that is safe for the public to consume.

FoodReady food safety software has a HACCP builder and customizable HACCP templates that make creating your HACCP plan flow chart and associated logs and documents much simpler and easier than using a paper system.

In this article, we will be discussing the steps of writing a HACCP Plan. The images you see are screenshots of our drag-drop HACCP builder at various stages of HACCP creation.

How to Write an Effective HACCP Plan?

Now you are about to learn how to develop a comprehensive Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan with this clear, sequential approach. Ensure food safety by identifying potential hazards, establishing critical control points, and implementing effective monitoring procedures.

Assemble Your HACCP Team

You need staff educated in HACCP principles to build and execute your HACCP plan. The staff you choose for this first HACCP plan step need to have technical knowledge of your food preparation or production and of the chemical, biological, and physical hazards present at your facility or at your restaurant.

With Foodready’s Enterprise solution, we can create your HACCP plan for you and help you set up your HACCP software/system at your business. If you need our HACCP consultant to visit your facility we can also arrange a site visit for an extra charge.

Describe Your Product, Intended Consumer, and Distribution

For demonstration purposes, our product is ready-to-eat salsa.

Product Description – Ready-to-eat unpasteurized tomato-based salsa. The salsa will be stored in cold cases and refrigerated display cases.

Intended Consumer – Our consumer is likely between the ages of 2-70. It is unknown if our consumer is of robust or fragile health. Our product will be sold at convenience stores, delis, and grocery stores.

Distribution – Our salsa will be shipped to retailers in refrigerated trucks.

Foodready HACCP Flow Chart Builder
FoodReady drag and drop customizable HACCP flow chart builder. Just drag each step to your flow chart, click to add your production process, hazards, and controls.

Describe Your Food Process

  1. Pre-approve and verify suppliers.
  2. Receive ingredients from suppliers. Check delivery trucks and supplies for contamination, dirt, insects, spoilage, and general condition.
  3. Perishable ingredients are put into cold storage. Shelf-stable ingredients are stored in the warehouse.
  4. Prepare Salsa (chopping, mixing, etc.)
  5. Package and Label Salsa
  6. Pack salsa into boxes
  7. Boxes are put into cold storage.
  8. Load boxes onto refrigerated trucks.
    (Most processes will also include various sanitation and standard operating procedures)

Develop a Simple Flow Chart of Your Food Process

This should illustrate a clear and simple outline of every step from receiving the ingredients to distributing the finished product.

FoodReady food safety software has a drag-and-drop HACCP flow chart builder and a library of over seventy Food Safety / HACCP plan examples for GFSI, SQF, GMP, USDA, FDA, Local Health, and Retail compliance.

Simply choose the template that most closely resembles your food product and customize the HACCP steps to your process.

We have a video knowledge base to help you learn this process, or you can hire one of FoodReady’s food safety consultants like SQF Consultant, GMP Consultant, GFSI Consultant, FDA Consultant to build your HACCP plan for you.

Analyze the Flow Chart With Your HACCP Team

Your HACCP team then needs to verify that the HACCP flow chart you created is correct and that there are no missing steps in your food production process. Any corrections to your process are made at this time before implementation.

Hazzard Flow Chart
Add Hazards information
With the FoodReady HACCP builder, adding hazards is simple. Just click on the step you want to add the hazard, and then click on the hazard button and fill in the pop-up menu with the physical, chemical or biological hazard.

The 7 Principles of HACCP

These seven HACCP principles are the cornerstone of a HACCP plan and must be completed correctly.

HACCP Principle #1 – Perform a Hazard Analysis

The hazard analysis is the step where the HACCP team scrutinizes the production process and documents where and how any hazards can be introduced to the food process. Food safety hazards are either biological, chemical, or physical. HACCP principle #1 is perhaps the most important step in writing a HACCP plan because this is the step that identifies food hazards that can make your customer sick.

For instance, if you are working with raw meat there are biological hazards like E-coli and Salmonella bacteria that can contaminate the meat. Any surface or equipment that comes into contact with raw meat could have these biological hazards on it and needs to be controlled to keep your customers from getting food poisoning.

Machinery used at certain points of the process could introduce a physical hazard like metal shards which pose a danger to your customer and must be addressed as a hazard in your HACCP plan.

Allergens, such as shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame, dairy wheat, and eggs are a significant food hazard.

Any food allergen contained in your product must be included on the food label so the consumer can protect themselves if they have an intolerance or allergy to an ingredient.

Steps in your food process that could introduce allergens need to be noted. Allergens need to be carefully stored and used so they do not cause cross-contamination.

Any step in your process that introduces chemicals (such as equipment sanitizer) to the process or machinery needs to be noted.

In the hazard analysis, your entire process must be evaluated from the receiving of the ingredients to the delivery to your customer.

To ensure the safety of the ingredients you receive you need to make sure your suppliers have their own functioning food safety system like a HACCP, PC, or GMP certification.

Having pre-qualified suppliers or ingredients and packaging is a PRP (pre-requisite program) that most manufacturers have in place.

A PRP is any program that you have to help ensure the safety of your product before your process begins.

After the hazards are identified the HACCP team must evaluate the severity of each possible hazard, how much it could harm the consumer, and the likelihood of this hazard occurring.

For instance, if Listeria is found in baby formula it’s an enormous risk because of the fragility of the population that consumes baby formula. This is an example of a food safety problem that causes a very severe hazard to a sensitive population.

As for the likelihood of occurrence, it’s much more likely that a product like packaged lettuce which has a lot of moisture would have more bacterial growth, than a product that is pre-cooked and then frozen.

Once the list of hazards is made you must list the “controls” you can use to eliminate, or reduce the hazards.

For example, if your product is packaged lettuce, the lettuce would be washed in a solution to control the growth of bacteria. If your product is pre-cooked frozen hamburger patties, the patties would be cooked to a specific temperature for a certain amount of time to kill pathogenic bacteria which could be harmful to your customers.

After all the hazards are identified, apply them to your flow chart at the appropriate steps.

HACCP Plan Builder flow chart
You can add and customize controls at every step of your PC or HACCP plan with the FoodReady HACCP builder.

HACCP Principle #2 – Determine Critical Control Points

Now that you know which hazards could be the most detrimental to the health of your consumer and which are the most likely to occur, you need to determine at which point in your process you can control the hazard by eliminating it or reducing it to acceptable standards. These are called Critical Control Points.

In our example of ready-to-eat salsa, there is a CCP at the final step “serving at a cold bar”. If the temperature of the salsa rises above a certain level there is potential for biological pathogens to grow.

Establish Critical Limits

HACCP Principle #3 – Establish Critical Limits

Critical limits are the maximum and minimum levels needed to achieve control over the hazards at each CCP.

For instance, you may need to cook food to a specific temperature for a certain amount of time to kill biological pathogens. These parameters must be listed at each critical control point.

For example, salsa must be kept at or below a minimum temperature of 40℉ according to the FDA to control bacterial growth.

Establish Monitoring Procedures

HACCP Principle #4 – Establish Monitoring Procedures

There must be a way to monitor that any hazards were controlled or stopped at the critical control point. Examples of monitoring could be logging times and temperatures needed to kill pathogens, swabbing for pathogen identification on sanitized equipment, testing the magnets used to detect metal in food to make sure they are working properly, and other measures.

As monitoring measures are performed, the staff responsible for monitoring must document and record their actions in monitoring logs. These monitoring logs must be maintained and available for retrieval for audit and inspection purposes.

HACCP Principle #5 – Establish Corrective Actions

This step is needed when a hazard is not properly controlled at the CCP.

For example, let’s say one of the HACCP team uses their Bluetooth thermometer and discovers that the salsa temperature is at 50℉ which is above the 40℉ maximum temperature. In this case, the corrective action would be to dispose of the salsa to prevent people from eating food that could have biological contamination.

HACCP Principle #6 – Establish Verification Procedures

Firstly, the initial HACCP plan must be verified for validity by HACCP-trained individuals. For example; if cooking at a certain temperature is needed to kill pathogens, the oven temperature must be verified to make sure the proper temperature is obtained.

If the HACCP plan is verified and followed precisely, there is less need for corrective actions later on, resulting in safer food and a reduction in costs.

Verification procedures are in place so that when there is a failure in the HACCP system, compromised food can be targeted and dealt with in a manner that protects the consumer.

Additionally, the HACCP plan needs to be verified occasionally by an unbiased third-party auditor to ensure the HACCP is being followed correctly.

HACCP Principle #7- Establish Record Keeping and Documentation

An important part of a HACCP plan is making sure that all actions associated with the HACCP plan are recorded and these documents are maintained and easily accessible.

This means that the HACCP plan itself, any corrective actions, monitoring, and verification are documented and retrievable for audits, recalls, food traceability, labeling, batch management, training logs, etc.

FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act rule 204 is legislation that requires food manufacturers to have food recall plans in place, food traceability, and record keeping.

In the past, this meant having to maintain binders of documents to present during inspections and wade through when a recall needed to happen.

FoodReady can build your HACCP plan, create your food safety system, and your process ready for any 3rd-party audit like SQF, BRC, GMP, GFSI, and the Costco Audit.


FoodReady’s HACCP writers are certified and have years of real world HACCP and food safety experience. We use our software to write your HACCP plan, where you can record and keep any associated SOPs, PCs, time and temperature logs, etc.
Your HACCP plan should be reviewed whenever there is a change in your process, when there is a trend in poor food safety outcomes, and also periodically, some companies review their HACCP plan annually and others review their plans more frequently.
A digital HACCP system works much more efficiently for many reasons: First and foremost, who wants to keep binders and binders full of papers that have to be waded through. A digital cloud based system removes the onus of the room full of papers. Second, employees can document their actions in FoodReady’s mobile app which will help keep them compliant. Third, you can take and log photos for visual verification, link to a bluetooth thermometer for temperature controls. Fourth, you can easily share your logs with inspectors. Fifth, you can easily edit your HACCP when changes occur. Sixth, your HACCP plan also links to your batch management, your supply of ingredients, your recall plan, etc. FoodReady is your food safety solution.

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Saro Loucks

Saro Loucks is the Director of Content and a Food Safety Advisor for FoodReady. Saro is certified in HACCP and a trained SQF Practitioner. When Saro is not editing, writing, or advising new customers on what food safety goals they should pursue, she enjoys spending time with her family, baking gluten-free sourdough bread, and playing Mahjong.
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