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Cornerstone of HACCP


The Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards. HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of chemical, biological, and physical hazards from unprocessed or raw material, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished food product.
The HACCP Plan is a document which is based upon the principles of HACCP and which delineates the procedures to be followed. The HACCP System is the result of the implementation of the HACCP Plan thru the creation of the HACCP team: a multidisciplinary group of members who are responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining the system.

The production of safe food products entail that the HACCP plan and HACCP system are built upon a solid base of prerequisite programs. Prerequisite programs are procedures that concentrate on operational conditions providing the cornerstone for the HACCP system.

The most important point is that each section of the food chain supply management must provide the conditions necessary to defend food while it is under their control. Prerequisite programs originated from food regulations and intended food industry organizations accomplish this through the proverbial prerequisite implementation of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under Section 501(B) of the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 USCS § 351). The regulations use the phrase "current good manufacturing practices" (cGMP) or as usual name GMPs; GMPs were established to help define for the food industry the minimal sanitary conditions for processing safe food products. They include such areas as personal hygiene, operational practices, cleaning and sanitation, water safety, foreign material control, and sanitary design.

These conditions and practices (cGMPs) are now considered to be prerequisite to the development and implementation of effective HACCP plans. Prerequisite programs provide the essential environmental and operating conditions that are necessary for the production of safe food. Many of the conditions and practices are specified in federal, state and local regulations and guidelines.

In addition to the requirements specified in regulations, food industry sectors often adopt policies and procedures that are specific to their own operations. HACCP plans are reduced in scope, being limited to ensuring safe food for human consumption. Critical Control Points (CCPs) are normally used to address significant food hazards, but even this varies from one industry sector to another. In one industry segment, a certain prerequisite may be of minor importance, while in another the same prerequisite may be essential to ensuring food safety.

The existence and efficiency of prerequisite programs should be assessed during the design and implementation of each HACCP plan. All prerequisite programs should be documented and recurrently audited internally or externally by a third party auditor. Prerequisite programs are established and managed separately from the HACCP plan.

In order to select the most suitable prerequisite programs, food industries must consider the following: their type of organization and their own unique circumstances; the capabilities of their suppliers and service providers; customer needs and expectations; statutory and regulatory requirements; and good practices in their segment of the food chain, including all relevant standards and guidelines.

Variety of Prerequisite Programs

Different categories have been developed for prerequisite food safety programs. From a regulatory HACCP perspective, six prerequisite programs should be implemented: good manufacturing practices, pest control, trace and recall, chemical control, cleaning and sanitation, and customer complaints.

Sperber W.H., et al., describes eight prerequisite program categories: raw material controls, facilities, sanitation, training, production equipment, production controls, storage and distribution, and product controls.

The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) provides impartial, scientific advice to federal food safety agencies and establishes eleven prerequisite programs: facilities, supplier control, specifications, production equipment, cleaning and sanitation, personal hygiene, training, chemical control, storage / shipping & receiving, traceability & recall, and pest control.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specifies detailed requirements to be specifically considered in relation to ISO 22000:2005, 7.2.3 in its standard ISO/TS 22002-1:2009: a) construction and layout of buildings and associated utilities; b) layout of premises, including workspace and employee facilities; c) supplies of air, water, energy, and other utilities; d) supporting services, including waste and sewage disposal; e) suitability of equipment and its accessibility for cleaning, maintenance and preventive maintenance; f) management of purchased materials; g) measures for the prevention of cross-contamination; h) cleaning and sanitizing; i) pest control; j) personnel hygiene. k) Other aspects as appropriate. In addition, ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 adds other aspects which are considered relevant to food manufacturing operations: 1) rework; 2) product recall procedures; 3) warehousing; 4) product information and consumer awareness; 5) food defence, biovigilance, and bioterrorism.

It does not matter the variety or number of prerequisite programs necessary to implement to assure the production of safe food in the food chain supply; most importantly it is how management properly implements the CORNERSTONE OF HACCP within the facility.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) . Managing Food Safety: HACCP Principles, HACCP & Managerial Control of Risk Factors. Retrieved August 20, 2013, from http://www.fda.gov/F...lFoodProtection /ManagingFoodSafetyHACCPPrinciples/default.html.

Sperber, W.H. et al., “THE ROLE OF PREREQUISITE PROGRAMS IN MANAGING A HACCP SYSTEM”, in Dairy, Food, and Environmental Sanitation 1998, vol. 18, no7, pp. 418-423

U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ). Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Principles and Application Guidelines, Adopted August 14, 1997, NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON MICROBIOLOGICAL CRITERIA FOR FOODS. Retrieved August 18, 2013, from http://www.fda.gov/F...nes/default.htm

ISO (International Organization for Standardization), ISO 22000 - Food safety management. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://www.iso.org/i...ds/iso22000.htm

Author Biography

Martin W. Torres: ASQ HACCP Auditor, SQF Auditor High Risk, BRC Auditor and SQF Consultant High Risk.
B.S. Industrial Engineering, B.S. Food Science. MBA-Quality. M.S. Food Safety. Member: ASQ Chicago, ASQ Division Food, Drug and Cosmetic.


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