HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, which is a tool for managing food safety and a universal method of systematic evaluation of the potential risks and determining methods of eliminating them during food production. Compliance with HACCP is required throughout the entire food production chain except for primary production.
The HACCP system is an effort aimed at ensuring food safety through the identification and estimation of the scale of food safety hazards from the standpoints of quality and health, as well as estimating the risk of these hazards at all stages of food production and distribution. It is also a system designed to identify methods of reducing these risks and to determine the proper corrective actions.
The HACCP system is created individually for every manufacturing facility and production line, taking into consideration the specifics of a given facility. The management is responsible for implementing and maintaining the system. The HACCP system is a guarantee to both managers and customers that, based on the available knowledge and technology, the product can be considered safe. HACCP is an effective tool to assess hazards and establish control systems. What is more, the emphasis is not placed on the final product, but on the individual steps of the production process instead. According to this philosophy, risks are identified and controlled during the entire process of manufacturing the product. Clear rules and consistency, as well as tightened control procedures, allow the objectives of this system to be achieved: HACCP allows for the elimination of threats from the very beginning of the production process, ensuring that the customer receives a safe product. According to the system, a hazard is anything that may cause harm to the consumer.
HACCP was officially approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1975, and in 1980, its principles, general rules and definitions were also presented at the WHO forum. In 1993, based on Council Directive No. 93/43/EEC of 07 November 1993 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, all EU countries were obligated to implement the HACCP system in the entire food production and processing industry. Thus, 1993 became a turning point, as from that year onward, producers were obligated to introduce and implement the principles. The issues were also described in Regulation No. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs.
The HACCP system is based on 7 basic principles defined in the Codex Alimentarius:
- Conduct a hazard analysis. Plants determine the food safety hazards identify the preventive measures the plant can apply to control these hazards.
- Identify critical control points. Identification of CCPs means that food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level.
- Establish critical limits for each critical control point.
- Establish critical control point monitoring requirements.
- Establish corrective actions. These are actions to be taken when monitoring indicates a deviation from an established critical limit.
- Establish record keeping procedures. The HACCP system requires that every facility must maintain and archive certain documents regarding its implementation, recording and maintaining data as well as archiving the system documentation.
- Establish procedures for verifying the HACCP system is working as intended.
The overarching principle of HACCP implementation is to ensure the safety and the highest possible quality of food products.