June 19, 2017
HACCP: A basic guide and free plan template
For anyone responsible for the upkeep of food safety procedures, getting to grips with HACCP can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare. The internet is swamped with extremely detailed information, but few articles outline exactly what staff need HACCP training and why.
We’ve broken down the system in this basic guide by answering the most common questions asked by food businesses about this industry-wide system. We’ve also created a downloadable HACCP Plan Template to help you establish a system in your business. However, we always recommend seeking further advice on all things food safety related on the Food Standards Agency’s website.
HACCP is a food safety management system which identifies hazards (chemical, biological and physical) to be proactively assessed and prevented at critical control points (CCPs).
The system provides an effective means of conducting hazard analysis and, since it was developed in the 1950's by food scientists, has become an extremely commonplace food safety management system across many different sectors. The first publication of the system as we know it today was a document in 1989 by The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria of Food (NACMCF), leading to its establishment as the predominant food safety system.
Hazard analysis looks at all the processes that go into manufacturing or serving food - identifying where in the process hazards can occur, the severity of the risk and what controls can be applied to prevent unsafe food from entering the food chain.
What does HACCP stand for?
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
Identify hazards: Evaluate your process from suppliers delivery to final output and assess where chemical, biological or physical hazards can occur.
Establish hazards critical control points: Determine at what points in your process controls can be applied to prevent or remove hazards.
Set limits for critical control points: This can, for example, a temperature, time limit, PH level etc. If this limit is exceeded at any point action must be taken.
Monitor your hazards critical control points: You must establish a system by which your CCPs can be regularly monitored. This could be through human action such as visual checks or implementing technology to monitor certain variants (e.g. fridge temperature).
Make it right: If one of your CCP limits is exceeded it is vital that you know what corrective action needs to be taken. This should be established when creating your plan and not in response to such problems occurring.
Keep records: You should be audit-ready everyday - documentation is essential for checking and proving to an inspector that your system is working.
Review: You should also regularly review the plan you have in place to ensure it’s fulfilling the requirements of a food safety management system effectively and keeps hazards controlled.
HACCP is critical to all food and drink businesses as it seeks to eliminate the possibility of any unsafe food being served or sold. This includes businesses within the food retail, manufacturing and hospitality sectors - for example restaurants, cafés, pubs, street food vendors, school cafeterias, food-to-go outlets, small-scale artisan producers, fast food chains, grocers and food processing plants.
The system prevents the biological, chemical and physical contamination of food and drink sold or served to the public. By keeping hazards controlled, it can prevent outbreaks of food-related problems such as food poisoning, choking or allergen contamination.
In 2015 the FSA (Food Standards Agency) investigated 1,514 cases of food, feed and environmental contamination. The two food types associated with the most incidents where meat products (254 cases) and bivalve molluscs such as mussels, oysters and clams (107 cases).
Some notable cases of food contamination have been reported in the past 2 years, including:
HACCP is critical for preventing these sort of incidents, which can ultimately cost business money in recalls and fines, as well as the possibility of a bad reputation or even closure.
Plan: What must be done to prevent biological, chemical and physical contamination of food and/or drink? Write down everything - this could include hygiene practices such as cleaning or pest control, as well as operational hygiene controls like storage. Create documentation such as plans (template here) and staff instructions.
Do: Follow your planning through with meaningful actions and continued documentation.
Check: Make sure you are fulfilling what you set out to do and keep track of dated checks.
Act: Take immediate, corrective action when problems occur and document these.
A successful system relies on all staff having an awareness of how it functions and working together to ensure hazards don’t slip through the net. A range of HACCP courses are available online to assist this and provide proof of compliance.
What Staff Need Training?
According to the legal requirement 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs businesses must ensure “That those responsible for the development and maintenance of the required procedures based on HACCP principles, or for the operation of relevant guides, have received adequate training in the application of the HACCP principles.” (source: FSA)
The Food Standards Agency suggest that ‘good practice’ would include at least one person in the business has enough training in the application of HACCP to develop and maintain these procedures. Supervisors and managers overseeing food safety based procedures should also have appropriate training. Additionally, all staff handling food could benefit from HACCP awareness training, so it is really down to you as the business owner to decide how far reaching awareness of the system goes in your establishment.
What level of training is needed?
Different levels of training are available, which provide appropriate instruction for all job roles across any food and drink business.
Suitable for all levels of food industry worker including factory floor staff, waiters and kitchen porters. Covers the basics of the system including why it was developed, the key stages of the process and how to prevent food contamination.
Suitable for staff responsible for the supervision and maintenance of HACCP-based food safety management systems. As well as covering the basics, this module covers managing food safety, different approaches to the system and how to develop plans.
Appropriate for those in managerial and supervisory roles who are responsible for developing and maintaining HACCP. Accredited by City & Guilds.
How long does a HACCP certificate last?
There is no expiration date on certificates, but it is considered good practice to renew all food hygiene and safety training once every 3 years.
Now you’ve got the basics of HACCP straight you can start to put together your own food safety management system. We’ve created a downloadable HACCP Plan Template to help you establish a system in your premises, be it a restaurant, bakery or other type of small business. The plan includes a blank template where you can fill in your own ingredients, processes and hazards critical control points. Download here or by clicking the preview below.
However, we always recommend seeking further advice on all things food safety related on the Food Standards Agency’s website.
Food Standards Agency: Chapter 7 of Meat Industry Guide