Friday, April 1, 2011

FOOD SMARTS: For Real … ‘Wassup with HACCP?’ Part 2

 OK, now that you understand “Wassup with HACCP,” better, you now feel that you are ready to write a HACCP plan for your food establishment. Where to start?

Again, HACCP is a written plan, specific to each facility’s menu that identifies significant biological, chemical or physical threats. Procedural methods are then employed to reduce, prevent or eliminate these hazards. This means you all will have different written HACCP plans unless you have the same menu as another establishment. HACCP is based on seven principles:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis
  2. Determine Critical Control Points  (CCP’s)
  3. Establish Critical Limits
  4. Establish Monitoring Procedures
  5. Identify Corrective Actions
  6. Verify that the system works
  7. Establish Procedures for Record Keeping and Documentation

The first principle of HACCP, Conducting a Hazard Analysis is basically identifying the dangers on your menu. The dangers on your menu are your Potentially Hazardous Foods; high in moisture content, high protein or nutritional value and low acidic foods (4.6-7.5).  Conducting a Hazard Analysis is two parts. One, identify your potentially hazardous foods and then, two, identify the control points you handle the foods until it is served.  One of our customers recently described it aptly as “a recipe on steroids.”  Let’s choose a basic recipe for Chili. Your recipe book might state simply: Brown the hamburger meat with onions and garlic, add vegetables, bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of hours, cool and reheat the next day.

Now let’s make it scientific. We can identify the potentially hazardous food in that recipe as raw hamburger meat and the control points we deal with this food item are:  Receive  è Storage  è Cook  è Cool  è Storage  è Reheat  è Maintain Hot
To take a phrase from Emeril Lagasse, “BAM!,” you’ve just conducted a Hazard Analysis.  Not so bad … so far … hmmm?!?

The second principle is Identify your Critical Control Points. The truth is that this can get tricky here because as my experience tells me that this really depends upon which jurisdiction you are turning in your HACCP plan. Normally, CCP’s are identified as those processes that make the food go up or down through the most dangerous part of the Danger Zone (70°F - 125°F), i.e. cooking, cooling and reheating. Let’s make it easy and say that all of the above are CCP’s because it’s “critical”/important to not lose control in each of those points you are handling the food. Always consult with your local jurisdiction for clarification.

The third principle, identify your critical limits is basically saying write down the minimums to keep the food safe in that point/step you are handling it. Using the Chili recipe, we know our critical limits would be as following: Receive raw hamburger at 41°F or below, Store at 41°F or below, Cook to 165°F or higher, Cool to 70°F or below within two hours and then an additional four hours to reach 41°F or below, Store at 41°F or below, Reheat to 165°F or higher within two hours, Maintain Hot at 135°F or higher.

The fourth principle, establish monitoring procedures just means, how are you going to measure/monitor that you met your critical limits. Usually that is with your thermometer and clock, but also additionally, you would be using your eyes and nose.

The fifth principle, identify corrective actions is basically that. Write down what you will do to fix something if you are not meeting your critical limit. For example, raw hamburger is above 41°F at the Critical Control Point of Receive, then your corrective action is to: Reject the delivery.

The sixth principle, verify that the system works, basically means your system is working and there is hardly any necessity of corrective actions being required. For example, if you keep having to reject raw hamburger meat often at Receiving, then your system is not verified and you might want to consider buying from another vendor.

The seventh principle is self-explanatory – Establish Procedures for Record Keeping and Documentation. Write down when you take temperature checks and keep records to protect yourself.

We hope this chart sample below can help you to create your own HACCP plan.  Remember, always consult with your local jurisdiction first.  Some jurisdictions want each item laid out and others are asking for grouping of ingredients.  It would be a shame to work very hard and then have to rework it all.

Equipment Utilized
Monitoring Procedures
Corrective Action

HACCP serves many purposes; protect your public’s health, serves as written proof to your health inspector that you know proper procedures and lastly it protects you if you are accused of a foodborne illness and have to go to court.