A background to HACCP
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a specific type of food safety risk assessment that applies along the food supply chain from producer to storage to distributor to retail. Within these sectors it is a mandatory requirement of the European Food Hygiene Regulations EC 852/2004, Article 5. HACCP as a tool is 50 years old, but proven effective at food safety management, first having been implemented as a food safety system in the 1960’s by a project team led by NASA, for the production of safe food rations intended for supply to manned space missions. A little closer to the present day we provide here some guidance to HACCP based on the requirements for Storage and Distribution Companies to implement HACCP as part of the BRC Storage and Distribution Standard, as laid out in Section 2 (Hazard and Risk Analysis) of that standard:
The Pre-requisite Controls
If you look up this word in the dictionary you get this definition – “something that must exist or happen before something else can exist or happen”. And it is the same with “HACCP prerequisites” – in other words there are certain conditions and controls that must be in place, before the HACCP risk assessment, and for the HACCP Plan to then be effective. The BRC Storage and Distribution Standard list some of these prerequisites (which musy be documented) as:-
- Condition and maintenance of buildings, equipment and vehicles – if they are poorly maintained or even badly designed then they are very likely to be a source of contamination – chemical, microbial and physical (foreign bodies ending up in food or within packaging). Therefore a system should already be in place to make sure they are inspected, serviced and kept in good repair.
- Documented practices for the safe handling, storage and transport of products – this means written policy or procedures for staff, at all levels, to follow and which directs them in the best way to ensure that products are stored safely (for example, but not limited to, well wrapped and with no pallet overhangs), handled safely (for instance skilled pickers and trained forklift drivers) and transported safely (for instance loads secured on the vehicle and trained drivers, using clean lorry load areas and flatbeds)
- Procedures for handling damages, waste products and returns – To ensure that they are kept away from saleable foods, identified and placed in segregated areas (quarantine) and that spillages and accidental breakages are dealt with securely, without risk to the food safety of other products.
- Pest Control Procedures – Integrated pest management systems involving minimisation of pest harbourage and ingress, coupled with, normally, the use of a pest control contractor to monitor for and react to pests. This includes the need for staff who are aware of pests and pest evidence and a system to ensure the buildings are pest-proofed.
- Sanitation Procedures – the documented and planned (scheduled) cleaning tasks, and where necessary, disinfection activities to keep storage areas and vehicles clean. Remember a build-up of dirt, debris and spilt food significantly increases the risk of food contamination and pest harbourage.
- Maintenance of the cold chain – procedures, systems and equipment in place to keep chilled food below 8C (legally) or below 5C (best practice) and frozen foods below -18C from receipt to delivery without breaches of temperature.
- Personal hygiene – to ensure that staff who are ill do not handle foodstuffs and that basic hygiene rules such as washing the hands after the toilet and not eating /drinking in food storage areas or vehicles are adhered to.
- Training – to ensure that staff understand the legal standards, have an appreciation of HACCP and follow the procedures that you set down as part of the prerequisite controls and the HACCP Plan.
To keep these blogs to manageable (bite size) chunks we will blog again in the next few days with the next part of HACCP – the HACCP team, conducting the hazard analysis, determining and controlling CCP’s. Stay tuned!