HACCP: The Ins and Outs

Posted: March 10, 2023

HACCP: The Ins and Outs

Are you working in the food industry or interested in learning about food safety? If so, you may have heard of HACCP. HACCP, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, is a food safety management system that has become widely recognized and adopted by food businesses globally. In this blog post, we will explore what HACCP is, its importance, and how it works. Whether you are a food industry professional or simply curious about food safety, this post will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of HACCP and its significance in ensuring safe and high-quality food products.

Table of Contents

The History of HACCP

HACCP was developed in the 1960s by a team of scientists and engineers led by Dr. Paul L. Austin at the Pillsbury Company. The system was initially created to ensure the safety of food for astronauts during NASA’s early manned space missions.

The HACCP system was later adopted by the food industry in the United States in the 1970s as a preventive approach to food safety, replacing the traditional inspection-based system. It was subsequently recognized as an international standard by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In the 1990s, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated the use of HACCP for seafood and juice processing, and it has since been adopted by many other sectors of the food industry worldwide. Today, HACCP is considered the gold standard for food safety management and is used by food businesses to identify and control potential hazards in the food production process, from farm to table.

HACCP is considered the gold standard for food safety management and is used by food businesses to identify and control potential hazards in the food production process, from farm to table.

ISO 22000:2018 and HACCP

ISO 22000:2018 is a standard for food safety management systems, which integrates Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles.

ISO 22000:2018 was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was first published in 2005. It was revised in 2018 to align with other management system standards, such as ISO 9001, and to include new requirements for managing food safety hazards.

ISO 22000:2018 builds upon the HACCP principles and includes additional requirements for food safety management, such as management responsibilities, communication, and continual improvement. It is now considered one of the leading standards for food safety management systems, and is recognized worldwide.

Learn more about ISO 22000:2018 by taking our ISO 22000:2015 Clause by Clause course.

Safe Food and HACCP

Understanding what “safe food” means is crucial in the context of HACCP because the primary goal of HACCP is to ensure the production of safe food.

Safe food is food that is free from harmful contaminants or other substances that could cause illness or injury to the consumer. Food safety is an essential aspect of public health, as foodborne illnesses can have severe consequences for human health and can even lead to death.

Safe food can be achieved through a variety of means, such as implementing a food safety management system like HACCP, maintaining good hygiene practices during food production and preparation, and implementing adequate storage and transport measures to prevent contamination.

Some groups of the population are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses and may acquire the diseases more easily or may suffer more severely from the disease. Those in this group include.

  1. The elderly
  2. The immunocompromised
  3. Pregnant women
  4. Infants and young children
  5. Undernourished individual

Ensuring safe food is a complex and ongoing process that requires collaboration between all stakeholders in the food supply chain, from farmers and processors to retailers and consumers. By implementing effective food safety measures and educating consumers about safe food practices, we can all play a role in promoting safe and healthy food for everyone.

Image of elderly lady eating a apple who is in the part of the population more susceptible to food born illnesses

What is a Hazard?

The word “hazard” has a particular meaning in HACCP. It refers to any biological, chemical, or physical agent that has the potential to cause harm to consumers if not properly controlled. It also can be a feature or a condition of a food. For incidence, if a food permits the growth of an infectious agent ( a “pathogen”) , and if the food is not refrigerated properly, such a condition is a hazard. 

Biological Hazard

Biological food hazards are also called foodborne pathogens – or infectious organisms that can cause human disease. These pathogenic organisms include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Except for certain parasites, most biological foodborne pathogens are microscopic. These microorganisms can cause a range of illnesses, from mild food poisoning to more severe illnesses like E. coli or salmonella.

Biological food hazards are also called foodborne pathogens – or infectious organisms that can cause human disease.

Physical Hazard

In addition to biological hazards, physical hazards are another type of hazard that can be addressed by a HACCP system. Physical hazards refer to the presence of foreign objects in food, such as glass, metal, wood, or plastic fragments, that can cause harm to consumers.

Physical hazards can occur at any stage of the food production process, from raw materials to finished products, and can be introduced in a variety of ways, such as through poor handling practices or equipment failure.

The majority of all reported incidents of illness or injury related to physical contaminants involve dental complaints, oral injury or laceration, trauma to the oesophagus, abdomen or other associated organs of the alimentary canal. Fortunately, these incidents are seldom life-threatening.

Physical hazards refer to the presence of foreign objects in food, such as glass, metal, wood, or plastic fragments, that can cause harm to consumers.

Chemical Hazard

Chemical hazards are another type of hazard that is addressed by the HACCP system. Chemical hazards refer to the presence of harmful substances in food, such as pesticides, cleaning agents, and other contaminants.

Chemical contamination of food stuffs can happen at any stage of their production, from growing of the raw materials through to consumption of the finished product. The effect of chemical contamination of the consumer can be long term (such as for carcinogenic) or accumulative chemicals (mercury) which can be short term such as the effect of allergenic foods. Cleaning chemicals, pesticides, toxic metals, allergens, nitrite/nitrates are the main chemical hazard issues in food products.

Chemical hazards refer to the presence of harmful substances in food, such as pesticides, cleaning agents, and other contaminants.

Pre-Requistite Programs

Prerequisite programs (PRP) are considered as support programs that provide foundations for HACCP in an overall food safety management program. An effective HACCP system requires the implementation of PRPs to establish a foundation of good manufacturing practices and prevent potential hazards from entering the process.  PRPs are necessary to be in place prior to the implementation of HACCP.

PRPs are necessary to be in place prior to the implementation of HACCP.

Cleaning Prerequisite Program

When it comes to food safety, maintaining a clean and hygienic environment is of utmost importance. One of the key components of an effective HACCP system is a well-designed cleaning program.

A cleaning program is a HACCP prerequisite program that helps ensure that all surfaces, equipment, utensils, and other food contact surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. It involves the use of appropriate cleaning agents, tools, and techniques to remove visible dirt, debris, and microorganisms from food contact surfaces.

A good cleaning program should have clear procedures and protocols for cleaning and sanitizing different types of equipment and surfaces. It should also include a schedule for regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent the buildup of dirt and bacteria.

Implementing a cleaning program is crucial in preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and ensuring food safety. Without a proper cleaning program in place, there is a risk of contamination, which can lead to foodborne illnesses and damage to a company’s reputation.

In conclusion, a robust cleaning program is an essential prerequisite program in any HACCP system. It helps to ensure that all food contact surfaces are clean and free from harmful bacteria, and plays a critical role in maintaining food safety and quality.

Gain an understanding of HACCP Fundamentals by taking this course, HACCP Food Safety Management Fundamentals Training Course.

Pest Control Prerequisite Program

In any food establishment, pests can pose a significant threat to food safety and quality. As such, implementing an effective pest control program is a crucial HACCP prerequisite program that must be in place to prevent pest infestation and ensure food safety.

A pest control program involves taking measures to prevent, detect, and eliminate pests from the food establishment. This includes implementing preventative measures such as sealing cracks and crevices, proper storage and disposal of food waste, and regular cleaning of the premises to remove food residues that may attract pests.

A pest control program should also involve regular monitoring to detect any signs of pest activity, such as droppings or gnaw marks. If pests are detected, appropriate measures such as trapping or chemical treatment should be taken immediately to eliminate the infestation.

Personal Hygiene Prerequisite Program

In the food industry, maintaining good personal hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and ensure food safety. A personal hygiene program is a crucial HACCP prerequisite program that helps to ensure that employees maintain high levels of hygiene and cleanliness.

A personal hygiene program should include guidelines and procedures for employees to follow, such as regular hand washing, proper use of gloves, and wearing clean clothing and hairnets. It should also include training on the importance of personal hygiene and the risks associated with poor hygiene practices.

Regular monitoring and enforcement of the personal hygiene program is critical to ensure compliance. This can be achieved through regular inspections, employee training, and the use of monitoring tools such as hand swabs to test for the presence of bacteria.

Photo of food handler washing heir hands as part of a haccp pre-requisite program

Good Manufacturing Practices Prerequisite Program

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) are a set of guidelines that are designed to ensure that food products are consistently produced and controlled to meet quality and safety standards. They are a critical HACCP prerequisite program that must be in place in any food establishment to ensure food safety and quality.

GMP covers a wide range of practices, including facility design and maintenance, employee training, sanitation practices, product labeling, and storage and transportation practices. The goal of GMP is to prevent contamination, minimize the risk of errors or mistakes, and ensure consistent product quality.

Some of the key elements of a GMP program include:

Facility Design and Maintenance: A well-designed and maintained facility is critical to preventing contamination and ensuring food safety. This includes proper ventilation, lighting, and drainage systems.

Employee Training: All employees must be properly trained on GMP practices, including personal hygiene, handling of raw materials, and food safety protocols.

Sanitation Practices: Regular cleaning and sanitation of equipment, surfaces, and utensils is critical to preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and ensuring food safety.

Product Labeling: Accurate labeling of food products is critical to preventing cross-contamination and ensuring consumers are aware of any potential allergens or other food safety concerns.

Storage and Transportation Practices: Proper storage and transportation practices, such as temperature control, are essential to maintaining product quality and preventing contamination.

Training Prerequisite Program

Training is a critical component of any HACCP prerequisite program. It ensures that employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain food safety and prevent potential hazards.

The goal of training is to ensure that employees understand their role in the food production process and the potential hazards associated with their work. Training should cover topics such as personal hygiene, handling of raw materials, cleaning and sanitation practices, and food safety protocols.

Training should be ongoing and conducted regularly to ensure that all employees are up-to-date with the latest information and procedures. This includes new employee orientation, regular refresher courses, and targeted training sessions for specific job functions or hazards.

Training programs should be tailored to the needs of the specific food establishment, taking into account the type of food produced, the production process, and the hazards associated with the process. Training should also be conducted in a language that is easily understood by all employees.

Effective training programs should include hands-on training, visual aids, and assessments to ensure that employees have a solid understanding of the material. It is also important to provide feedback and reinforcement to ensure that employees are implementing what they have learned.

If you’re unsure about your HACCP training needs or have any questions about food safety management, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts is here to help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to ensure the safety of your food products. Don’t wait until it’s too late, get in touch with us today!

Steps Involved in Developing a HACCP Plan

Developing a HACCP plan is a systematic process that involves several steps. Here are the essential steps in developing a HACCP plan:

Step 1: Form a HACCP Team

The HACCP is not carried out by one person alone. But is the result of a multi-disciplinary team effort of the HACCP team.

The team is responsible for the development, implementation, and maintenance of the HACCP plan, which is designed to identify potential hazards and prevent food safety issues.

The HACCP team should be comprised of individuals with a diverse range of expertise, including food safety, quality assurance, and production management. This ensures that all aspects of the food production process are taken into account and potential hazards are identified and addressed.

After assemble the HACCP team it is necessary train the team properly.

Step 2: Describe the Product and its Intended Use

At this stage a product description may be constructed for two reasons. Firstly ,it is essential that the HACCP team is fully familiarized with the products and process technologies to be covered by the HACCP plan. Secondly the product description acts as an introduction and point of historical reference to the HACCP plan.When describe the product we have to consider about the product varieties,labeling instructions, packing material type, shelf life,ingredients like things.

Identifying the attended use be useful to identify who are the likely purchase or consumers of the product are. Some groups of the population, the elderly, very young, sick or immune-compromised are much more susceptible to some hazards. It is necessary to label it appropriately.

Step 3: Construct a Flowchart

The process flow diagram is used as the basis of the hazard analysis and must therefore contain sufficient technical detail for the study to progress.The process flow diagram should be carefully constructed by members of the HACCP team as an accurate representation of the process, and should cover all stages from raw materials to end product. Normally for construct the flow diagram following type of data is being used.

1. Details of all raw materials and product packaging.
2. Details of all process activities.
3. Temperature and time profile for all stages.
4. Types of equipment and design features.
5. Floor plan.

Confirm the Flow Chart - CRITICAL STEP

Once the HACCP flow chart is completed, the flow chart should be confirmed physically on site by the team by carrying out a walk through verifying all the steps identified.

Image of the construct a flow step" when creating a haccp plan

Step 4: Implement the 7 HACCP Principles

Principle 1: Conduct hazard analysis and identify preventive measures.

Identify the potential food hazards in a food business that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels. A food hazard may be microbiological, physical or chemical or an allergen in food.

Principle 2: Identify critical control points (CCPs) in the process.

Identify the Critical Control Points (CCP) at the step(s) where control is essential to ensure the safety of food.

Principle 3: Establish critical limits.

Set targets at each CCP which will present, eliminate or reduce the hazard to a safe level (such as oo ing food to a ore temperature of).

Principle 4: Monitor each CCP.

Regularly check the critical control measures at each CCP to make sure the process is under control and to prevent problems arising.

Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.

Establish corrective actions to take when something goes wrong (when a critical limit is breached).

Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.

Establish procedures to verify that the HACCP system is working effectively.

Principle 7: Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

Establish documents and records suitable for the nature and size of the food business that demonstrate the effective application of the control measures.


In conclusion, I have explored the ins and outs of HACCP and its importance in ensuring food safety. We have seen how HACCP provides a systematic approach to identifying and managing potential hazards in the food production process.

Implementing HACCP not only helps businesses comply with regulatory requirements but also instills consumer confidence in the safety and quality of the food they consume.

Furthermore, we have learned about the seven principles of HACCP and how they can be applied in any food production setting, regardless of size or complexity.

In today’s world, where food safety is of utmost importance, adopting HACCP as a standard practice is vital to prevent foodborne illnesses and protect public health.

Therefore, it is recommended that all food businesses and organizations implement HACCP as a part of their food safety management system to ensure that the food they produce is safe for consumption.

Need help with your HACCP program?

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    Picture of Dr. Fiona Masterson

    Dr. Fiona Masterson

    Fiona is an accomplished food safety management expert with experience working in the food and drinks industry. She holds a PhD in engineering, a Master's degree in operations and quality management, and a degree in food science.

    Fiona has implemented HACCP and ISO 22000 standards, and is highly skilled in training and educating others on these topics. She has successfully has developed and delivered training programs for companies in the food industry.