The aim of a HACCP – or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point – plan is keep food safe. It is a key part of your responsibility as a food producer to make sure the food you produce is safe for consumers to eat.
Many producers we talk to ask ‘What is HACCP?’ and, more importantly, ‘What does it mean for me?’. In short, the HACCP system helps food producers monitor and manage their handling of food. It provides a number of procedures – specific to different sectors of the food industry – that give structure and guidance to help keep food safe to consume.
The HACCP requirements also form the basis of inspection by food safety enforcement officers who will want to check that your business is compliant and has an appropriate system in place for food safety management.
Your responsibilities under HACCP
If you’re inspected, you will need to be able to show your records. The HACCP plan helps producers keep food safe from biological, chemical and physical hazards. Your main responsibilities with respect to HACCP are to:
- Ensure food produced is safe to eat
- Make sure food is not processed in such a way as to make it harmful to consumers
- Ensure that your products are of the quality you state and that food labelling, advertising or marketing is not misleading
- Maintain records on the source of ingredients
- Withdraw food that is unsafe and maintain incident reports relating to any withdrawal
- Communicate why food has been withdrawn
- Display your food hygiene rating if you sell food directly to the public
- Ensure the appropriate use of additives
In our experience HACCP can be intimidating for producers – both large and small. For start-up food producers, we recommend building up your HACCP information as you develop your product rather than delaying until you’re ready to put it in the marketplace.
Start your HACCP ASAP
Don’t wait until it’s in the factory before you document it and get your documentation in order. The sooner you begin to consider the critical control points – sourcing of ‘clean’ ingredients, time/temperature heat processing, managing potential cross-contamination – the easier the process will be and the better-placed you will be if inspected.