Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)
THE use of HACCP in food processing plants represents a scientific approach to controlling and reducing illnesses that might be related to food consumption. The HACCP concept was developed in the early 1970s by scientists at the Pillsbury Company while developing food for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The idea was developed because the commonly used random finished product testing could not guarantee the safety level required for the space program (it is very expensive to treat foodborne illness in space). An added benefit was the possible identification of the problem(s) at the early stage of the production scheme, which could save time, money and obviously reduce the risk level. The program was first applied to low-acid canned food, but since then, it has been applied to a large variety of foods, including those used in retail and the food service area. Today, it is not uncommon to hear about fast-food companies requiring their suppliers to be HACCP approved and declining to purchase supplies from nonapproved plants. This overall approach (also seen in car manufacturing, etc.) results in the entire production and marketing systems working together to assure high quality. Various countries have mandated the use of HACCP in parts/all of their food processing plants, while others have recommended HACCP implementation in order to facilitate inspection. Becoming a HACCP-approved processing plant requires substantial planning and investment in resources (e.g., people, money); however, a good HACCP plant can justify such costs. Some people joke about the HACCP acronym and call it “hard, agonizing, complicated, confused paperwork,” but once in place, it can actually improve production, safety and quality control on a continuous basis.