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Tips for Meeting and Exceeding HACCP Requirements

The HACCP management system helps food service businesses manage back-of-house (BOH) operations by implementing and monitoring safe food-handling procedures and holding temperatures.

It is the gold standard of measurement in the food industry. The following tips for meeting and exceeding the HACCP requirements will help you get started no matter what part of the food industry is your specialty.

What Is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, which are the key features of standardized foodservice protocol and procedures.  HACCP is a scientific system for process control used during food production and handling. 

In 1996 the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published these rules to help prevent the contamination of meat, poultry, and most other food products. 

The USDA, FSIS, and the FDA require HACCP systems for all aspects of the foodservice industry. From farm production to table service, these processes help protect the quality and safety of the food we eat.

What Is Hazard Analysis?

A hazard analysis is an in-depth study of how your business might experience food contamination. Conducting a hazard analysis requires that 4 types of food safety hazards which are identified, tracked, and prevented. These hazard categories are:

chefs in back of house
  • Allergenic Hazards. When a food product comes in contact with another substance that can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Examples include eggs, shellfish, nuts, dairy, and soy.
  • Biological Hazards. These include bacteria that cause foodborne illness, including Salmonella and E.coli, viruses, molds, and parasites. These might be present on surfaces or result from storing, preparing, or transporting food at improper temperatures.
  • Chemical Hazards. Food must not be contaminated by cleaning products, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticides, or other chemicals. These potentially hazardous substances can cause illness or poisoning.
  • Physical Hazards. These include foreign objects that find their way into food, including stones, glass pieces, metal fragments, pieces of bone, or wood splinters. Consuming these items might cause physical injury.

What Is a Critical Control Point?

A critical control point is the stage of the process where an action can be taken to eliminate, prevent, or reduce the identified hazards. It is a step in the handling process where checks can be made to identify contamination or unsafe conditions. 

A complete HACCP plan will establish critical limits for food safety which include:

  • Time - how long the food has been in its current state
  • Temperature - with guidelines for safe hot, cold, and frozen products
  • Water activity - measuring temperature and its pH levels
  • pH of the product or its acidity level
  • Preservatives present
  • Microbiological levels
  • Sensorial data

The step in the process where variations in these factors can be identified is a critical control point, or CCP.  It is recommended that you gather a team to flowchart your business processes in order to identify these key gates through which unsafe food should never pass.

Developing an HACCP Plan for Your Business

You will need to invite staff members with expertise in your existing process to help create flow charts and action plans. Your team should include individuals with a solid understanding of your recipes, holding times, and food preparation techniques. 

After you assemble your HACCP team, you will need to develop a plan that:

  • Identifies the products, processes, and recipes that should be included and monitored
  • Implements a hazard analysis system and supporting documentation on critical limits
  • Lists the sanitation SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for preventing contamination and maintaining food quality
  • Identifies monitoring tools and verification procedures which support HACCP requirements and provide managers and owners with critical data in real time
  • Establishes corrective actions and prerequisite programs to keep food safe, dispose of unsafe product, identify process or equipment failures, and comply with HACCP guidelines

How To Implement HACCP Plans

Once you have created the HACCP plan for your restaurant or franchise, it must be implemented and the expected goals and results verified to find any process gaps and improve employee training programs. 

The details of your HACCP program will vary, but should include the 7 formal principles of HACCP:

green checkmark Conduct a Full Hazard Analysis. By creating flow diagrams or other tools to evaluate existing processes, each step can be scrutinized for potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards and how they might be introduced into the food supply.
green checkmark Identify Critical Control Points. Having identified possible hazards, determine the next step in the process where contamination can be identified and action taken to reduce the hazards to acceptable limits.
green checkmark Establish Critical Limits. Clearly define the range of acceptable values for each hazard, which might include time, temperature, pH, or other variables. Food products which have reached any critical limit should be discarded.
green checkmark Implement Monitoring Systems. As each CCP is reached, monitoring systems provide the data needed to make informed decisions and awareness when critical limits are reached. Wireless temperature monitoring systems can help track food items through the process.
green checkmark Determine Corrective Actions. When monitoring systems or processes indicate that critical limits have been reached, corrective actions should be taken to make sure only safe food products move to the next step, and that the upstream cause of the problem is corrected.
green checkmark Perform Verification Procedures. The best preventative control plans and processes can fail if verification and validation are not part of your plan. A monitoring system from ComplianceMate can help validate that all steps of the process were performed on schedule, and send alerts to management when checks are not performed or safe temperatures are not maintained.
green checkmark Keep Reliable Records and Documentation. Keep your HACCP plan up to date with your current processes, and keep historical records that show safe handling histories, and what actions were taken when issues arose to prevent future risks to food safety.

Streamlining Your HACCP Processes and Recordkeeping

Safe food processing and handling is not only essential to remaining in compliance with FSIS and FDA requirements, it is essential to maintaining your reputation for quality, brand standards and food safety. Any issues with safety compliance can be a big blow to your livelihood and impact the trust of your valued guests and customers. 

cooks preparing a meal

When a single failure of the HACCP processes has the potential to result in food contamination that causes illness or death, having an auditable, automated system in place to prevent these issues gives you and your team,  peace of mind and assurance that your business is protected. 

Monitoring and tracking safe food temperatures, shipment history and employee completion of checklists and required tasks is essential to management visibility into the process and as a result, improving back-of-house operations, and taking corrective actions as the HACCP requires. 

The best way to improve operational execution and support your HACCP compliance is by installing a food safety management system that ensures compliance and food safety.

ComplianceMate Is an Industry Leader and Favorite

From small single shops and startups to nationwide foodservice franchises alike, use the patented ComplianceMate temperature monitoring system to maintain their safe food temperatures while receiving real-time alerts in the event of equipment failure or notification of preventative  maintenance. Being alerted to temperature variations and failing equipment can save thousands in inventory that must be discarded for reaching critical temperature limits   The cost of one freezer failure is more than the cost of the automated system. 

Grocery stores, restaurants, food transportation and processing facilities also use this system to help them remain HACCP compliant. Managers have immediate awareness when required HACCP procedures are not being completed and critical checkpoints are being missed. The system works on any internet-connected device and provides alerts in real time, as well as provides the ability to analyze data for trends across a single restaurant or an entire organization.

You can schedule a free demo of the ComplianceMate system to find out just how easy it is to be fully compliant in your particular area of the food industry. The small investment in wireless equipment can quickly pay for itself by alerting you to a single freezer or refrigerator breakdown and saving the investment you’ve made in your product. 

Contact us today to find out more about technological solutions that will boost your BoH excellence.