HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
So what is HACCP?
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a Food Safety Management System that was developed in the early 1960s for American astronauts now entering the space race against Russia. It was JF Kennedy’s promise to start exploring space and eventually land on the moon that triggered this system of providing safe food for astronauts. Can you imagine a space traveller in a sealed space suit with food poisoning? Some of the symptoms of food poisoning include sickness and diarrhoea (the shits). So an astronaut with these symptoms would quickly fill their space suit and drown in their own bodily fluids….not a welcoming thought and something to put off even the most ardent of potential astronauts.
HACCP was developed from a system perfected by jet fighter engineers for checking the safety of these airplanes. It was initiated by scientists, the military and later published by the Pillsbury Dough Corporation.
Since the 1st January 2006 all food businesses, regardless of size, must use a Food Safety Management System based on HACCP, or rather, the principles of HACCP.
UK law does make allowances for smaller food businesses and allows them to use a more flexible system which can be downloaded from the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) website. It consists of diary entries, explanations, forms for completion, etc.
That’s the background to HACCP, but what does HACCP do, why use it?
In essence it is a system for preventing contamination entering the Food Safety Chain. The Food Safety Chain consists of links, much like a metal chain. Each link represents a process in the manufacturing of food for eventual consumption by consumers. We also use a phrase “From Farm to Fork”.
The links include:
Other links could be added as sub-links for example after storage, the food item might be ready for serving, or after cooking further preparation might be required. If food items are to be cooled for use in a cold dish, there would be a sub-link after cooking, i.e., chilling or cooling.