personal hygiene - hand washing
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Set critical limits

Define how you will decide a hazard is controlled/eliminated at a critical control point.


Write down your control procedures

Advice on critical limits

For some critical limits you may need to seek advice. Often you can use limits developed for a particular task by others. However, defining some limits may be a specialist job. See advice module 150 on shelf-life in relation to Listeria monocytogenes.

HACCP requires records

You are probably doing the right things, but can you prove it? The HACCP laws require you to have food safety and hygiene procedures written down and that you prove you are following them.

Establish critical limits

Previously, we have identified and analysed food safety hazards within your business, using a flow chart.

Using a decision tree, we identified critical control points where a food safety hazard must be controlled.

Now we look at the critical limits for the control points identified.

The third HACCP Principle

Third Principle of HACCP is:

Establishing critical limits at critical control points which separate acceptability from unacceptability for the prevention, elimination or reduction of identified hazards;

Critical limit definition: A criterion which separates acceptability from unacceptability.

You must state your limits - what is acceptable at this point and what is not.

Defining your critical limits

This means deciding what you may have to do at a critical point to control or eliminate the hazard. You must have a particular routine or procedure which results in the hazard being controlled or eliminated.

This should be written down as part of your procedures not only to satisfy inspectors but also to ensure your food is safe.

However, having a control written down is not actually doing it, so you also need records of when you have carried out the control.

Critical control limits may be as simple as using a temperature probe to ensure cooked food has reached the correct temperature, or that chiller equipment is keeping food cold.

Subscribers can access this article in the Ehandbook under HACCP principles, where we look at the chicken sandwich example and define the critical limits for the identified critical control points.


This HACCP principle is about deciding what you will accept as safe at a particular point in your processes.

You need to write down what you do and keep records to prove you are doing it.

Inspectors are not all ogres. They want to see you have thought about what you do, why and how you achieve it – that is the"confidence in management" bit of your inspection. If you write things down and keep records, your inspection will be a doddle.

What next?

In the next two HACCP principles we shall look at monitoring CCP’s and defining corrective actions if a limit is not met.

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Food Solutions Subscribers can log in to the Ehandbook and look at HACCP Principles articles, on the training/advice module page under HACCP Principles.

Hazard Analysis Explained gives useful suggestions on hazard identification, hazard analysis and assessing which identified hazards must be controlled.

Identifying Critical Control Points covers how to decide where your critical control points are.

Subscribers also have access to the HACCP Checklist which helps with HACCP review.

The next article will cover the "fourth principle of HACCP":

Establishing and implementing effective monitoring procedures at critical control points;

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