What does HACCP stand for? 7 Principles of HACCP

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What does HACCP stand for? HACCP is an acronym which most persons would have heard at some time or another. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point.

HACCP was first introduced by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) working in conjunction with Pillsbury to provide astronauts with safe food that has a long shelf life whilst in space.

From its inception, the HACCP principles have been widely accepted and utilized by food manufacturing companies to produce safe food and thereby win consumer trust.

The preventative based approach used in HACCP relies heavily on the creation of accurate HACCP plans to mitigate potential hazards for each product. A HACCP plan is based on the seven principles of HACCP which are outlined below:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis.
  2. Determine the CCPs.
  3. Establish critical limits.
  4. Establish monitoring procedures.
  5. Establish corrective actions.
  6. Establish verification procedures.
  7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

The seven principles HACCP employs is supported by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) which form the foundation of the HACCP program. Some of the prerequisite programs covered by the GMPs are Equipment Maintenance, Sanitation, Pest control, Training, Traceability and Recall, just to name a few.

Implementing HACCP is by no means an easy task as the success of HACCP is dependent on Management’s commitment to the program as well as it requires that each employee understands and follows the guidelines of the prerequisite programs. It, therefore, dictates that one must have a very robust HACCP training program. HACCP training may be conducted by a designated employee of the company who has been HACCP certified by external HACCP trainers who possess valid HACCP and Train the Trainer certifications.

It should be noted that an external HACCP trainer can be used to conduct training for the entire facility however it is recommended that the designated person responsible for the HACCP program be entrusted with this responsibility as they would be more knowledgeable about the facility and the general practices of the employees and as such would be able to tailor the training to specifically meet the needs of the company. The training material used for HACCP training should cover:

  • A comprehensive definition of HACCP. This is to give an appreciation and a full understanding of what HACCP means.
  • It should outline the seven principles of HACCP, placing emphasis on how to conduct a hazard analysis and how to determine CCPs.
  • An in-depth overview of all the prerequisite programs that support the HACCP program.
  • Finally, outline the steps of how to implement HACCP.

At this point you may be asking, is HACCP a voluntary process? The answer to that question is a resounding yes but while implementing HACCP does require an investment of time and resources, the benefits of obtaining a HACCP certification are many and covers not only the capability to provide safe food, it also ensures the establishment is compliant with certain laws governing the manufacture and or distribution of foods safe for human consumption. Additionally, it protects the company from litigation and fraudulent claims. Furthermore, the HACCP process is very thorough as it utilizes a ‘farm to fork ‘ concept which is basically making sure that the food is safe throughout the entire process thereby raising the bar as it relates to the quality and safety of the food that a company or establishment produces.
If an establishment is seeking to become HACCP certified, there are a few things that need to be done, these include:

  • Designate a HACCP coordinator, someone who will be solely responsible for all the HACCP documentation and related programs. This person must complete HACCP training successfully in order to manage this portfolio.
  • Form a HACCP team that will consist of two persons from each department of the organization, one person as the main representative and the other being an alternative for instances where the main representative is unavailable.
  • Secure the services of a professional and well-established HACCP consultant who will provide guidance and support through the HACCP certification process.
  • Under the guidance of the HACCP consultant, choose the auditing body that will conduct the HACCP certification audit. The consultant may recommend one of the following HACCP certification bodies: NSF International, SGS or HACCP International.
  • Maintain proper documentation. At the core of the HACCP process is proper documentation procedures. When it comes to HACCP, there is a popular saying, ‘ if it has not been documented, it has not been done, therefore, all routine inspection or monitoring must be documented especially if follow-up action is required and it directly impacts food safety.


The list of relevant documents to keep for the various programs are:

Supplier Verification Program

  • Certificate of Analysis for all raw materials used
  • Supplier Food Safety certifications

Quality Control

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Temperature control monitoring records
  • Raw material specifications and evaluation documentation
  • Calibration records for lab analysis equipment
  • CCP monitoring documentation
  • Non-conformance documentation (Process)

Facilities Maintenance Program

  • Grounds/External Facility Sanitation and upkeep documentation
  • Plant layout map
  • People flow map
  • Process flow map
  • Raw material flow map

Equipment Maintenance Program

  • Equipment calibration documentation
  • Preventative maintenance records
  • Food safety related changeover documentation ( for manufacturing plants)

Sanitation Program

  • Equipment/Plant sanitation documentation
  • Sanitation Verification documentation
  • Transportation vehicle sanitation documentation
  • Internal audit reports
  • Third party inspection reports

Pest Control Program

  • Map of pest control devices
  • Approved Pesticides listing
  • MSDS documentation and labels for pesticides used in the establishment
  • Pest control provider documentation ( License, Contract outlining all pest treatment being provided, license of each pest control technicians, Insurance)

Training Program

  • GMP Training records
  • HACCP Training records
  • Allergen Training records
  • Chemical Training records
  • Sanitation Training records ( includes Sanitation Verification training)
  • Pest control Training records
  • Metal detector Training records
  • Foreign Matter Training records
  • Food safety related Training records for Maintenance personnel
  • Food Defense Training records

Food Defense Program

  • Vulnerability assessment records
  • Visitor Policy records
  • Food Defense team and contact information

Traceability and Recall Program

  • Traceability and Recall team and contact information
  • Mock Recall documentation
  • Customer complaints records

Finished Goods Transportation/Distribution Program

  • Vehicle inspection checksheets
  • Temperature control checksheets
  • Customer Sales Listing documentation ( Local and International for establishments that export)

Personnel Hygiene Program

  • Non-conformance reports (Personnel)

Foreign Matter Program

  • Sieve reports
  • Glass breakage reports
  • Metal detector maintenance reports
  • Light Filth Analysis records

Chemical Program

  • Dilution table documentation
  • MSDS and labels for all chemicals used

Allergen Program

  • Allergen verification reports

HACCP Program

  • Organizational chart
  • HACCP team and contact information
  • Product description documentation
  • HACCP plan for each product
  • CCP documentation ( must outline persons responsible for monitoring, frequency of monitoring and person verifying document)
  • Corrective action reports
  • Verification documentation

As outlined, the documentation for HACCP is quite extensive and requires constant revision and or updating as any change to the plant or process will need to be reflected in the process flow charts and hazard analysis so as to accurately identify all the potential hazards and ensure preventative measures are put in place. In general, HACCP documentation should be reviewed on a yearly basis or once there is a change to the process. These are just a few guidelines to follow when preparing for a HACCP certification audit. It’s noteworthy to mention that a pre-audit is conducted before the official HACCP audit which gives an indication of the company’s readiness for the actual audit.

A HACCP audit usually takes 3 – 5 days depending on the size of the facility and once the establishment is approved, the HACCP certification lasts three years after which a re-certification audit has to be conducted to confirm compliance in order for the company to continue enjoying the benefits of being HACCP certified.

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