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HACCP: the History, the Principles and the Advantages
By Wadih El Feghali | 29.03.2012

The American Food and Drug Administration Developed a system called the HACCP:

The Food and Drug Administration has adopted a food safety program developed nearly 30 years ago for astronauts and is applying it to seafood and juice. The agency intends to eventually use it for much of the U.S. food supply. The program for the astronauts focuses on preventing hazards that could cause food-borne illnesses by applying science-based controls, from raw material to finished products. FDA's new system will do the same. Traditionally, industry and regulators have depended on spot-checks of manufacturing conditions and random sampling of final products to ensure safe food. This approach, however, tends to be reactive, rather than preventive, and can be less efficient than the new system. The new system is known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP (pronounced hassip). Many of its principles already are in place in the FDA-regulated low-acid canned food industry. FDA also established HACCP for the seafood industry in a final rule December 18, 1995 and for the juice industry in a final rule released January 19, 2001. The final rule for the juice industry will take effect on January 22, 2002 for large and medium businesses, January 21, 2003 for small businesses, and January 20, 2004 for very small businesses. In 1998, the U.S.

Department of Agriculture has established HACCP for meat and poultry processing plants, as well. Most of these establishments were required to start using HACCP by January 1999. Very small plants had until Jan. 25, 2000. (USDA regulates meat and poultry; FDA all other foods.)

FDA now is considering developing regulations that would establish HACCP as the food safety standard throughout other areas of the food industry, including both domestic and imported food products. To help determine the degree to which such regulations would be feasible, the agency is conducting pilot HACCP programs with volunteer food companies. The programs have involved cheese, frozen dough, breakfast cereals, salad dressing, bread, flour and other products. HACCP has been endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (an international food standard-setting organization), and the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. A number of U.S. food companies already use the system in their manufacturing processes, and it is in use in other countries, including Canada. Habbal (2003).

HACCP involves seven principles:

- Analyze hazards. Potential hazards associated with a food and measures to control those hazards are identified. The hazard could be biological, such as a microbe; chemical, such as a toxin; or physical, such as ground glass or metal fragments.

- Identify critical control points. These are points in a food's production - from its raw state through processing and shipping to consumption by the consumer--at which the potential hazard can be controlled or eliminated. Examples are cooking, cooling, packaging, and metal detection.

- Establish preventive measures with critical limits for each control point. For a cooked food, for example, this might include setting the minimum cooking temperature and time required to ensure the elimination of any harmful microbes.

- Establish procedures to monitor the critical control points. Such procedures might include determining how and by whom cooking time and temperature should be monitored.

- Establish corrective actions to be taken when monitoring shows that a critical limit has not been met - for example, reprocessing or disposing of food if the minimum cooking temperature is not met.

- Establish procedures to verify that the system is working properly - for example, testing time-and-temperature recording devices to verify that a cooking unit is working properly.

- Establish effective record keeping to document the HACCP system. This would include records of hazards and their control methods, the monitoring of safety requirements and action taken to correct potential problems. Each of these principles must be backed by sound scientific knowledge: for example, published microbiological studies on time and temperature factors for controlling food borne pathogens.

Applying the HACCP is a need and never a luxury.

New challenges to the U.S. food supply have prompted FDA to consider adopting a HACCP-based food safety system on a wider basis. One of the most important challenges is the increasing number of new food pathogens. For example, between 1973 and 1988, bacteria not previously recognized as important causes of food-borne illness - such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enteritidis - became more widespread. Whiting and Buchanan (2001). There also is increasing public health concern about chemical contamination of food: for example, the effects of lead in food on the nervous system. Another important factor is that the size of the food industry and the diversity of products and processes have grown tremendously - in the amount of domestic food manufactured and the number and kinds of foods imported. At the same time, FDA and state and local agencies have the same limited level of resources to ensure food safety. The need for HACCP in the United States, particularly in the seafood and juice industries, is further fueled by the growing trend in international trade for worldwide equivalence of food products and the Codex Alimentarious Commission's adoption of HACCP as the international standard for food safety. Whiting and Buchanan (2001).

The HACCP has many advantages.

HACCP offers a number of advantages over the current system. Most importantly, HACCP:

- Focuses on identifying and preventing hazards from contaminating food.

- Is based on sound science.

- Permits more efficient and effective government oversight, primarily because the record keeping allows investigators to see how well a firm is complying with food safety laws over a period rather than how well it is doing on any given day.

- Places responsibility for ensuring food safety appropriately on the food manufacturer or distributor.

- Helps food companies compete more effectively in the world market.

- Reduces barriers to international trade.

To apply the HACCP there are several definitions that the food handler should know:

CCP Decision Tree: A sequence of questions to assist in determining whether a control point is a CCP.

Control: (a) To manage the conditions of an operation to maintain compliance with established criteria. (b) The state where correct procedures are being followed and criteria are being met.

Control Measure: Any action or activity that can be used to prevent, eliminate or reduce a significant hazard.

Control Point: Any step at which biological, chemical, or physical factors can be controlled.

Corrective Action: Procedures followed when a deviation occurs.

Criterion: A requirement on which a judgment or decision can be based.

Critical Control Point: A step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.

Critical Limit: A maximum and/or minimum value to which a biological, chemical or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to prevent, eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the occurrence of a food safety hazard.

Deviation: Failure to meet a critical limit.

HACCP: A systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards.

HACCP Plan: The written document which is based upon the principles of HACCP and which delineates the procedures to be followed.

HACCP System: The result of the implementation of the HACCP Plan.

HACCP Team: The group of people who are responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the HACCP system.

Hazard: A biological, chemical, or physical agent that is reasonably likely to cause illness or injury in the absence of its control.

Hazard Analysis: The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards associated with the food under consideration to decide which are significant and must be addressed in the HACCP plan.

Monitor: To conduct a planned sequence of observations or measurements to assess whether a CCP is under control and to produce an accurate record for future use in verification.

Prerequisite Programs: Procedures, including Good Manufacturing Practices that address operational conditions providing the foundation for the HACCP system.

Severity: The seriousness of the effect(s) of a hazard.

Step: A point, procedure, operation or stage in the food system from primary production to final consumption.

Validation: That element of verification focused on collecting and evaluating scientific and technical information to determine if the HACCP plan, when properly implemented, will effectively control the hazards.

Verification: Those activities, other than monitoring, that determine the validity of the HACCP plan and that the system is operating according to the plan.

The success of the HACCP system depends on education and training.

The success of a HACCP system depends on educating and training management and employees in the importance of their role in producing safe foods. This should also include information the control of food borne hazards related to all stages of the food chain. It is important to recognize that employees must first understand what HACCP is and then learn the skills necessary to make it function properly. Specific training activities should include working instructions and procedures that outline the tasks of employees monitoring each CCP. Management must provide adequate time for thorough education and training. Personnel must be given the materials and equipment necessary to perform these tasks. Effective training is an important prerequisite to successful implementation of a HACCP plan.

Part of the senior project presented at AUST Lebanon in Partial Fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree.

Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management

Fall 2003-2004

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