Almost 50 million people in the U.S. get sick with food poisoning each year, and 3,000 people actually die from it.
However, you can help prevent food poisoning in your industry, and a HACCP plan can help.
With these plans, every step from production to finished product is covered. Forming a plan ensures that your team is all on the same page, making the protocols easy to follow.
Not sure how to create an effective plan for your industry? We’ll walk you through it in this guide. Keep reading to learn how to design a HACCP plan that will keep everyone safe.
What is a HACCP Plan?
HACCP, or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, is a food safety management system. This system involves controlling hazards from different sources, including biological and chemical.
The HACCP method is recognized internationally as an effective way to maintain a food safety program. The plan also helps ensure compliance with the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011.
However, there are many reasons to implement a HACCP plan — let’s take a closer look.
Why Do You Need a HACCP Plan?
In some areas, HACCP plans are required. But even where they aren’t, they’re a great way to minimize potential issues in industries that involve food production and distribution.
When food from your company causes illness, the consequences can be serious for your brand. Customers might return food, causing a loss of profits. But even worse, you might have items that get recalled. The bad publicity that results from this can be hard to recover from.
A few bouts of food poisoning might sound inevitable. But HACCP plans can go a long way toward reducing their occurrence. Remember that food poisoning can lead to death for some people. That’s not a news item that you ever want to be associated with your company.
HACCP Steps: Building the Plan
How do you build a HACCP plan? Let’s take a step-by-step look at the process you and your team should follow.
1. Put Together a Team
Having one person in charge of a HACCP plan can result in lots of oversight. Instead, you should put together a team that can make sure the plan covers everything it should.
On your team, try to have people who have industry-specific knowledge about the processes involved, and the products you work with. Pull from a variety of departments to get the greatest variety of knowledge on your team. The more multidisciplinary it is, the better.
2. Map Out Your Process
Now the team should turn its attention to mapping out your food production processes.
If you’ve been in business for a long time, a detailed map of your process may not exist anywhere at the company. Make sure your map is as objective and thorough as it can be.
Mapping out the system step by step, even if the team feels they’re already familiar with it, is important. This detailed information can reveal surprising places where food safety standards aren’t tight enough.
You can use software to build a chart of your brand’s workflow or more old-fashioned methods to create the map. However, it’s important that you eventually create a digitized version that the whole team can review to find places where improvements should get made.
3. Learn the HACCP Principles
By this point, if not before, your HACCP team should have committed the HACCP principles to heart.
These principles are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They start with “Conduct a hazard analysis,” which you’ve completed already in the previous step.
Although this guide will help make the principles more clear, ultimately, your goal is to follow the HACCP principles to the letter. Use that as your most important guide throughout this process.
4. Understand Your Product and Audience
Next, your team can create a description of your food product.
This should include all the ingredients in it, as well as the methods used to prepare it for consumption. Make sure the distribution method is included, too. For example, is it transported at room temperature, frozen, or at a different temperature?
After you’ve identified the products, take a close look at the people who are using them and the intended uses of the products. What’s the normal situation in which your products get used?
5. Analyze Hazards
Using the information you have, especially the process map you created in step two, you can now analyze the hazards you’ve identified along the steps of the process.
Make sure to keep track of which hazards already have been addressed with your processes. Some potential hazards will already be controlled by the system you have in place. Others have been previously overlooked, and need to be addressed now.
Figure out how to address those hazards that don’t have solutions yet. Also, make sure your current systems for addressing existing hazards are working well. Even if controls are in place, you might still find room for improvement.
6. Choose a Monitoring System
How will you know that your HACCP plan is working?
You need to figure out a way to measure the success of your plan after it’s implemented. Try to use specific numbers and measurable things, not subjective measures.
7. Implement the Plan
Now, your plan is complete and ready to be implemented.
As long as the monitoring system works well, the plan should be effective for years to come. However, it’s a good idea to maintain a HACCP team for regular reviews, especially when processes or other things change at your company.
Use the Right Tools for Your Plan
The best HACCP plan will work even better when coupled with proper monitoring tools.
Relying on staff for monitoring won’t work as well as investing in technology. For example, you’ll need measuring systems, like temperature monitoring.
However, you don’t have to expect your staff to check the temperature: you can get a remote system instead. Check out our remote temperature monitoring solutions to see what they can do!