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Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is a food safety system that can identify and prevent food safety hazards (physical, chemical, biological). These hazards, if not identified and controlled or eliminated, could put consumers at risk for food borne illness (FBI).

The leading cause of FBI is improperly cooled foods, followed by:

  • Food not thoroughly heated or cooked
  • Infected employees/poor personal hygiene
  • Food prepared a day or more in advance of serving
  • Raw, contaminated ingredients added to food
  • Food left too long at temperatures that favor bacterial growth
  • Failure to reheat food to temperatures that kill bacteria
  • Cross contamination – cooked food contaminated by raw food (ex. cooked vegetables contaminated by raw chicken), equipment not properly cleaned/sanitized, mishandling of food by employees

Certain foods are potentially hazardous because of their protein content, moisture content and food source. They are referred to as time/temperature controlled for safety (TCS) foods.

Careful handling should be considered for:

  • Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, sour cream, etc.)
  • Shell eggs/unpasteurized eggs
  • Raw Seeds and sprouts
  • Baked or boiled potatoes
  • Poultry
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Soy protein foods/Tofu
  • Meat (beef, pork)
  • Sliced or cut melon

Food – High protein food or foods that are already contaminated. Bacteria need certain things to reproduce: warmth, moisture, food, and time. It is helpful to remember the acronym, FAT TOM:

  • Acidity of the food – pH (Acidity is measured from 0 which is very acid to 14 which is very alkaline). An acidity of <5.0 inhibits bacterial growth (ex: vinegar, lemon juice).
  • Time – Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ) for more than 4 hours during entire preparation and service time. Be sure foods are not past expiration dates.
  • Temperature – Avoid TDZ of 41° F to 135° F.
  • Oxygen – Most bacteria need oxygen, some do not (botulism).
  • Moisture – Free moisture available in food (water activity or Aw) of > 0.85 such as meat and poultry which have an Aw of 0.98. Also described as the water percentage of food. Foods with a high-water level encourage bacterial growth.

The goals of HACCP are to eliminate or reduce significantly the possibility of a hazard or food borne illness (FBI), and/or prevent a hazard from happening.  The seven steps of HACCP are:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
  • Identify hazards in the facility, making sure to observe the complete path the food:

Receive ⇒ Store ⇒ Prep ⇒ Cook ⇒ Hold ⇒ Serve ⇒ Cool ⇒ Re-heat

  1. Determine Critical Control Points (CCP’s)
  • There are certain critical control points at which food is handled when contamination or bacteria growth can be prevented.
  • The most critical control points are:
    • Cooking
    • Cooling
    • Holding
    • Re-heating
  1. Establish Critical Limits
  • Once you have identified your CCP’s, determine the temperature food needs to be heated to or kept at to control bacterial growth
  • It is helpful to add those critical limits to your recipes or operating procedures
  • Critical limits must be measurable and must be based on scientific research
  1. Establish Monitoring Procedures
  • Use the CCP’s to determine how each product will be monitored to make sure the standards are being met
  • This monitoring action should be recorded so it can be reviewed later if necessary
  1. Identify Corrective Actions
  • When a critical limit is not met, a procedure needs to be in place to describe what corrective action to take
  • The critical limit must be met, or the food is to be discarded
  1. Record any corrective action that is taken
  • Verify That the System Works
  • The manager is responsible for determining if the plan is successful by evaluating it on a regular basis
  • Each plan should prevent, eliminate, or reduce the hazards as intended
  1. Establish Procedures for Record Keeping and Documentation
  • Keep records of all activities being performed, corrective action taken, equipment condition, and any correspondence with suppliers

By controlling major food risks with an established HACCP program, you can better assure that your customers are eating safe food and the potential for foodborne illness is significantly decreased.