Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for:

  • Hazard
  • Analysis and
  • Critical
  • Control
  • Pints

HACCP is a system of identifying food safety hazards and establishing ways of controlling these hazards. The HACCP system was developed to produce safe food for the NASA space program. As you can imagine a case of food poisoning in space would have been disastrous.

Why is HACCP important to meat processing in Australia?

All meat processors in Australia are required to have a Quality Assurance system based on HACCP. Meat processors must develop a HACCP plan which identifies the ways it will control food safety hazards.

A HACCP plan is prepared to deal with the food safety issues at a food processing plant.
The HACCP plan identifies:

  • the food safety hazards
  • the ways the hazards will be controlled in the process; these preventative measures will be included in work instructions or task descriptions for each workstation
  • the critical control points
  • the monitoring programs to be used to check the hazards are being controlled
  • the corrective actions that will be taken if the product is not meeting the specification.

HACCP plans are now required for all meat processors in Australia.

What is a hazard?

The HACCP system requires that food safety hazards be identified. A hazard is any unwanted contamination of the meat product which can produce health problems.
The three types of contamination or hazards that must be covered in a HACCP plan for a meatworks are:

  • chemical contamination – including pesticide residues, detergents, and sanitisers used for cleaning
  • physical contamination – including metal, plastic, jewellery, pens, rail dust, hair, wool
  • biological contamination – including bacteria such salmonella, E.Coli, Staphylococci.

What is a control point

This is a step in the process where a significant hazard can be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. Critical control points are decided by your company’s HACCP development team.

What are preventative measures?

Preventative measures are those things done at a step, workstation or task which help control a significant hazard.  For example, if the hazard is bacterial growth on carcases then the preventative measure will be related to the chilling cycle. The carcases will have to be chilled to a certain temperature within a certain amount of time. For example, deep butt temperature has to be 15oc within 20 hours.

What are corrective actions?

Corrective action is the action to be taken if a product does not meet specifications. In the last example the corrective action might be to keep all the product and conduct microbiological testing.

What is monitoring?

Once the hazards are identified it is vital that the product is checked to make sure the preventative measures are working. Monitoring systems check if the hazard is being controlled.