Is Having a HACCP Plan Mandatory or Voluntary?

Is Having a HACCP Plan a Voluntary Process or is it Mandatory? HACCP Plan Basics Do you ever wonder how a restaurant or food manufacturer keeps food safe to eat for their customers? They keep food safe because they follow ...

Is Having a HACCP Plan Mandatory or Voluntary

Is Having a HACCP Plan a Voluntary Process or is it Mandatory?

HACCP Plan Basics

Do you ever wonder how a restaurant or food manufacturer keeps food safe to eat for their customers? They keep food safe because they follow a customized HACCP plan.

Does the government mandate that a food business follow a HACCP plan? Or is a HACCP plan a voluntary process?  

Having a HACCP plan is a voluntary process, but many grocers, food retailers and large companies require you to have a HACCP plan when selling your food products or ingredients to them. If you are pressing juice, processing seafood, or dairy products the FDA requires a HACCP plan, and if you are processing meat the USDA requires a HACCP plan.

How to Conduct a Hazard Analysis

HACCP is a system to identify, evaluate, and control food safety hazards based on Seven Core Principles.  Here is a summary of the seven principles:

Develop a list of the hazards-

(Defined as a chemical, physical agent, or biological substance that could “reasonably” cause at each step of preparing, processing, packaging, or selling a food item physical or bodily harm.)

Determine which hazards need controlling in the processing or preparation of your food product.

List the hazards applicable to your process along with any measures that can lessen, eliminate, or “control” hazards.

Determine the Critical Control Points

A critical control point or CCP is a step at which a control can be applied to lessen or eliminate the potential hazard or hazards to your food production. For example – cooking food to a certain temperature to kill bacteria and pathogens.

Establish Critical Limits

This is establishing maximum and minimum parameters to control the chemical, physical and biological hazards of each CCP. A good example of this is having to cook food until it reaches a certain temperature for a set amount of time to halt bacteria growth.

Establish Monitoring Procedures

Monitoring is a way to track, monitor and verify that the controls are accurately and consistently being followed.

Workers who monitor CCPs are usually those who are associated with the production of the food product.

The assigned monitor must keep a log of the procedures followed and if there were any variations in the critical limits. The log must be dated and signed. foodready.ai has this capability in our food safety app and food safety software for laptop use.

Establish Corrective Actions

Perfection is the goal, but, mistakes happen, so corrective measures should be in place.

Corrective measures should have these elements.

Find and correct the cause of the problem (for example – surfaces not being properly sanitized, so fixing the plan to include proper sanitation).

Determine the “disposition” of the affected product (products exposed to bacteria from dirty surface could have future bacterial growth and could spread foodborne illness).

Record the corrective actions that have taken place (surfaces cleaned and the compromised product has been disposed of properly).

Establish Verification Procedures

Once a HACCP plan has been created, a verification of the HACCP plan by an unbiased food safety professional should be completed to make sure all the hazards are indeed being addressed in the correct fashion.

The FDA has published an appendix of appropriate verification activities.  HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines | FDA

 Establish Record Keeping and Documentation Procedures

 Records that need to be kept for the HACCP plan include and are not limited to:

      • A summary of the hazard analysis and how the hazards were determined and what control measures were used.

      • The HACCP plan itself (which has many complicated elements, procedures, CCPs, corrective actions and monitoring logs, flow charts, decision trees, etc., which must be documented and differs with each HACCP plan)

      • Support documents and validation records

      • Records created when using the plan.

    Believe it or not, this is just a short summary of what a HACCP plan is. It can be a very complicated and long process to complete one for your business yourself. It’s a good thing that FoodReady has some premium food safety software to help you write your HACCP plan, or you can hire one of our HACCP plan writers to write one for you.

    Determine the Critical Control Points

    A critical control point or CCP is a step at which a control can be applied to lessen or eliminate the potential hazard or hazards to your food production. For example – cooking food to a certain temperature to kill bacteria and pathogens.

    Establish Critical Limits

    This is establishing maximum and minimum parameters to control the chemical, physical and biological hazards of each CCP. A good example of this is having to cook food until it reaches a certain temperature for a set amount of time to halt bacteria growth.

    Foodready is a food safety software and consulting company. Our software has a HACCP builder, food traceability, you can create your own checklists to manage your HACCP plan or track other items, ingredients, tasks, or events. With our Enterprise program you will have access to food safety quality assurance professionals who can help you with GFSI, SQF, GMP, SOP, BRC, CGMP, HACCP, FSMA, gap analysis, or prepare for audits like the Costco audit, the Whole Foods audit, Publix audit, Kroger audit, Safeway audit, Meier audit, HEB audit and more.

    FAQs

    While having a HACCP plan is a voluntary process for many food businesses, it is mandatory for those processing juice, seafood, dairy products, and meat due to regulations by the FDA and USDA. This requirement extends to restaurants, food manufacturers, and other food handling establishments aiming to ensure food safety and comply with major grocers and food retailer mandates.
    Absolutely. Even for small businesses not legally required to have a HACCP plan, implementing one can greatly enhance food safety practices, improve product quality, reduce waste, and increase consumer trust. Additionally, a HACCP plan can make it easier for small businesses to expand their market reach, including selling to larger retailers that require such plans from their suppliers.
    Staff involved in any aspect of the HACCP plan should undergo comprehensive training to understand food safety principles, their specific roles within the HACCP plan, and the importance of their duties in preventing foodborne illnesses. This includes training on monitoring CCPs, taking corrective actions, and maintaining proper records. Continuous education is also important to stay updated on best practices and regulatory changes.
    A HACCP plan is focused specifically on identifying and controlling hazards that could affect food safety from production to consumption. Other food safety management systems, like ISO 22000 or the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized schemes, take a more holistic approach, covering a broader range of food safety aspects, including supplier management, traceability, and food defense. HACCP can be a component of these broader systems.

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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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