Hazard analysis, critical control points, also known as HACCP, is a systematic preventative approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes. Biological hazards, or organisms, or substances produced by organisms that pose a threat to human health. They’re a major concern in food processing because they cause most food borne illness outbreaks. These organisms can affect human health, including infection, intoxication, and even death. Infection occurs when organisms invade the host and multiply in the body. Intoxication occurs when bacteria produce toxins that affect the body. Biological hazards may be bacteria, moulds, yeasts, viruses, toxins, or prions, especially when using animal meal.
A chemical food hazard as defined by the US Food and Drug Administration is any chemical agent that has the potential to cause illness or injury. Food chemical hazards can be classified into chemicals that occur naturally, chemicals that you may use in the formulation of your finished product, or chemicals that are unintentionally or incidentally present in your finished product. Chemical hazards may be undesirable substances like polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, pesticides, heavy metals, allergens, among others. A physical hazard is any extraneous object or foreign matter in a food item which may cause illness or injury to a person consuming the product.
These foreign objects include, but are not limited to bone or bone chips, glass, wood, feces, plastic, sewage, waste, sand, gravel, soil, packaging, metal, or any other foreign material not normally present in food products. Sources for such contaminants include raw materials, badly maintained facilities and equipment, improper production procedures, and per employee practices. Processors must determine procedures to control physical hazards, and then, during the hazard analysis stage of the HACCP plan, determine whether or not the severity and rate of occurrence indicate implementation of a control at that point. HACCP is not about controlling hygiene. HACCP means to identify and control the crucial points in terms of food safety.
There are seven key stages in the HACCP plan– the implementation of hazard analysis and risk assessment, the determination of critical control points, the establishment of limit values for critical control points, monitoring of the critical control points, defining the corrective action, validation and verification of the HACCP system, and documentation and assessment of the HACCP system. If necessary, it is important to take action to master these crucial steps. The first step when undertaken HACCP principles is to conduct a hazard analysis and risk assessment. In order to do this, it is important to have an accurate flow chart outlining all the stages in production. This flow chart should be studied and potential hazards at each stage of production should be identified.
An important part of this is to walk the line and check for potential risks, and to discuss with those involved at each stage of the production process. Potential hazards may be the incorrect dosages, especially of feed additives such as vitamins, trace elements, or amino acids by under or access levels, which could lead to health effects. It is important to consider all of the potential biological, chemical, or physical contaminants, as well as the process conditions which may affect the health of animals and humans. The identified hazards must now be described in detail. When describing the hazard, it is important to briefly outline their cause and or source.
The exact form of contamination should be mentioned, for example, which foreign material or which bacterial species. The risk assessment is dependent on the impact, severity, and probability of appearance of the hazard. The second HACCP stage is to determine the critical control points. A critical control point is defined as a step in the process where control is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard, or reduce it to an acceptable level. A decision tree is used to help determine these critical control points. The process involves the HACCP team assessing whether this action is the last step in the process needed to control the risk. If so, then this point in the process is a critical control point.
Every step in the process, with the associated risk and associated control action must go through the critical control point decision tree. The third stage requires establishing the critical limits. The critical limits outline at what value the product is still safe and acceptable, and at what value it is not acceptable. These limits must be unambiguous and measurable. If this critical limit is exceeded, the product is considered unsuitable for use as feed and rejected. To minimize risks as much as possible and thereby prevent rejection of products, it is also necessary to set target levels and a limit for the taking of measures.
The threshold for action based on the respective product or process values is derived from the rejection threshold and needs to be clear. If this value is exceeded, the cause must be researched and corrective measures taken which eliminate or limit the cause. When establishing the limit values associated with the critical control points, the requirements set out by the applicable feed legislation must be met. If there are no legal requirements for these limits, they will be determined and justified for the critical control points internally for the company. Once the potential hazards and critical control points have been identified, it is important to monitor these critical control points.
This fourth stage of the HACCP plan requires the feed business to establish and implement a monitoring plan. The monitoring plan must state who, when, how, what, and where controls are being performed. This monitoring is intended to determine whether a critical control point is controlled. Depending on the process step and type of process parameter, the monitoring of critical control points may include a continuous semi-continuous, or random measurement. It is very important to document the results of the monitoring. The fifth principle in HACCP is to determine what corrective action should be taken if the critical limit is breached.
In that case, the safety of the product is no longer controllable, therefore, the corrective action should bring the critical control point under control and deal with any affected product. A distinction is made between internal corrective measures, that is within the company with the aim of preventing the delivery of unsafe product, and external corrective measures, such as the withdrawal of products or product recall. The measures taken must be documented. This should include the date, time, nature of the action, the person concerned, and the next check. Principle 6 in the HACCP plan is verification and review. Before the HACCP system is implemented, it must be checked, whether it is effective and that the risks can be controlled. This procedure is called validation.
In addition, after the introduction and implementation of the HACCP system, it must then be regularly verified to confirm that the system is still effective, is being used appropriately, and if necessary, adjusted. The verification is carried out by the HACCP team and recorded in writing. The HACCP team determines how often this review takes place. However, it must be carried out at least once a year and when important information becomes public. For example, following a feed crisis, important information by the media, or results by laboratory analysis. Moreover, every time the company makes changes in the manufacturing process, the HACCP system must be reassessed.
Changes maybe the introduction of a new product, manufacturing conditions, storage or transport conditions, or new legislation or information indicating that there is a risk associated with the product. It is therefore important that the HACCP team keeps up to date with the feed and food safety laws, regulations on requirements, and the HACCP team regularly assess whether the current level of knowledge of feed and food safety and hygiene is still at the required level. Training may be necessary. The final HACCP principle is to establish documentation. When maintaining a process control system per the HACCP concept, documentation plays an important role. It ensures that the HACCP system is demonstrably present.
In addition, it provides employees with a source of information about the work to be carried out and agreements made. The documentation required, the cause of the introduction of HACCP, can be included in the quality documentation already required under the QS guidelines. It must document the members of the HACCP team, as well as team meeting minutes with justifications for decisions taken in the framework of the HACCP analysis. Moreover, specifications, flow charts and monitoring plans, information about the basic hygiene program used in the company, and hazard analysis have to be documented.
It is also necessary to describe the critical control points, the action taken, and rejection limits, the corrective action, as well as a description of validation and verification procedures for the HACCP system, and general recordings. After the implementation of the HACCP system, data is collected at every step. These steps, as previously discussed, include monitoring of data on the critical control points and general control measures, the review or control of critical control points, the review of the HACCP system by sampling and analysis of products, and verification.