personal hygiene - hand washing
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Pick out control points

Identify steps in your processes where you can control or eliminate a hazard by doing something specific you can set a limit for.

Procedures

Written food safety procedures eg. for cleaning, cooking and chillling are required as part of your HACCP based food safety system.

Decision tree

Use a decision tree to work through your hazard list. This will help you decide where your critical control points are.

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.

Identifying Critical Control Points

Following the last article, you should have produced a flow chart of your operations, with a list of hazards you identified and an assessment of risks and how you could control or eliminate each hazard.

Subscribers saw the example flow chart and list in the article in the ehandbook training module section under HACCP Principles.

Critical control points are the steps in your processes where the operator or you make a decision on whether to go on or do some remedial action.

The second HACCP Principle

Second Principle of HACCP is:

Identifying the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential to prevent or eliminate a hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels;

There are likely to be many more hazards you have identified in your analysis than there are critical points. The trick is to pinpoint the hazards that can be measured and controlled and are essential to ensure food safety. Not all hazards are critical. If a later step in your process eliminates a hazard, certain controls may not be necessary.

Pre-requisites, procedures and critical controls

It is easy to confuse the pre-requisites (see previous article) with critical control points. You could argue that cleaning, personal hygiene etc are all critical. Of course they must all be done effectively, but you do not measure them every time. You must have your cleaning procedures in place and work to them, but you do not swab surfaces and send samples for lab testing every time you clean. You might do so occasionally as visual inspection may not be good enough. Therefore cleaning, although it needs to be effective may not have a point of control. It goes without saying that cleaning is done, personal hygiene is effective and procedures are followed.

Basic procedures for cleaning are covered in our advice and training modules available in our FHRS pack.

Summary

Use your flow diagram and hazard list and work through methodically.

For each hazard, ask yourself, is the hazard likely to threaten food safety?

Do measures exist for the specific control or elimination of this hazard?

Could contamination increase to unsafe levels without this control?

Is there a later measure that eliminates this hazard?

Decision Tree

A decision tree asks yes or no questions about step in your processes where a hazard occurs. The answer leads to another question, or a decision on whether the step is a critical point or not.

 

Confused?

You may feel totally confused by all this, but there are guides to good practice to help you. Safer Food Better Business for example is free. It does not mention the terms "hazard" or "HACCP" but does have pictures of things that could go wrong.

Many consultants would be delighted to assist, at a cost, but you know your business and a little thought and common sense is really all that is required.

It is in your own interests not to poison your customers and you are probably doing all the right things.

HACCP regulations require proof.

FHRS Pack

Our FHRS Pack is designed to help you achieve and maintain a top rating of 5 under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

 

The pack includes the HACCP Checklist which helps with HACCP review and a section on HACCP, giving advice on getting your food safety system in place based on the principles of HACCP.

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

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