If you're a business involved in the food industry, ensuring the safety and quality of your products is of utmost importance. In this guide, we will provide you with an in-depth guide to understanding HACCP audits, starting from preparations and HACCP system implementations all the way to the auditing process and certification.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is a widely used approach to food safety that helps prevent, identify, and manage food safety hazards. HACCP audits consider the physical, microbiological, and chemical food hazards and are a critical component of this process.
While it is highly recommended for restaurant operators in the UK to implement a HACCP system, it is not explicitly mandatory to possess a HACCP certificate. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK advises food businesses to have effective food safety management systems in place, and HACCP is recognized as a robust system for ensuring food safety.
However, the FSA does not require certification of the HACCP system itself. It is still essential for restaurants to follow relevant regulations and guidelines to maintain food safety and hygiene standards.
To obtain a HACCP certification, you will need to follow these steps:
Familiarise yourself with the HACCP principles, requirements, and guidelines. You can find resources and training materials from organisations such as the MyHACCP Tool developed by the Food Standards Agency.
Create a HACCP plan tailored to your specific food business. This plan should identify and assess potential hazards, establish critical control points, set critical limits, define monitoring procedures, establish corrective actions, verification procedures, and record keeping.
Put your HACCP plan into action by training your staff, implementing procedures, and establishing documentation and record-keeping systems. Ensure that all staff members understand their roles and responsibilities in maintaining food safety.
Regularly review and assess your HACCP plan to ensure it is being followed correctly. Internal audits help identify any gaps or areas for improvement.
If needed, consider hiring a food safety consultant who can provide expertise and guidance throughout the certification process. They can assist with plan development, training, and audits.
Contact a recognised and accredited certification body.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles include 7 steps to help establishments systematically recognise, assess, and manage hazards that present a significant threat to the safety of food safety.
In the domain of food safety and quality assurance, auditing plays a key role in ensuring the integrity of food production processes. Two key components of this auditing process are internal and external audits.
Internal auditing involves a comprehensive self-assessment of the foundational prerequisite programs and the HACCP system within an establishment.
On the other hand, external auditing is carried out by accredited external bodies such as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and is designed to provide an objective evaluation of an establishment’s adherence to standards and regulations.
External auditing is carried out by a representative of a regulated body. The external auditor's responsibility is to ensure the completeness, effectiveness, and maintenance of the programs and system, ultimately determining whether certification is warranted.
During an external audit, a comprehensive examination and assessment of the HACCP system and all related procedures take place. Objective evidence is collected to demonstrate the proper implementation and effective operation of the establishment’s HACCP system.
Internal auditing involves a comprehensive self-assessment of both the prerequisite programs and the HACCP system. This process entails a thorough critical evaluation and is often led by the HACCP team leader.
The initial internal audit typically takes place a few months after the HACCP system's implementation and before certification.
Before you are ready to conduct your own HACCP audit, you will need to assemble an HACCP team who are knowledgeable and experienced in food hygiene and safety. They will need to consider the following individuals in their plan, such as:
The audit should be spread out throughout the year, not at once. Also, we recommend creating a schedule for when these audit tasks should be executed. You can use TrailApp to schedule a recurring reminder to carry out the self-assessment!
Based on the 7 principles, the following HACCP process steps should be taken:
This involves identifying and evaluating potential hazards that can occur at various stages of food production. Hazards can be biological (e.g., bacteria), chemical (e.g., contaminants), or physical (e.g., foreign objects).
CCPs are specific points in the production process where control measures can be applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce identified hazards to an acceptable level. Identifying CCPs is crucial for effective food safety management.
Examples of this can be:
Principle 3 involves critical limits. These are the defined criteria or boundaries that indicate whether a CCP is under control. These ensure that the food product is safe for consumption.
In order to set critical limits, it's essential to define specific criteria that indicate when a product transitions from a safe to an unsafe state. These criteria may encompass physical, chemical, or procedural aspects, such as:
Continuous monitoring of CCPs involves regularly measuring and observing the critical control points to ensure they remain within the established critical limits. This real-time monitoring helps detect anomalies.
When monitoring reveals that a CCP is not within the critical limits, specific corrective actions must be implemented immediately. These actions are designed to bring the process back under control and prevent unsafe food from reaching consumers.
Three levels of corrective action must be implemented:
With Trail, you are able to schedule reminders for yourself and your team to carry out corrective actions.
Verification is an essential step to confirm that the HACCP system is working effectively. It involves periodic reviews, audits, and checks to ensure that the critical control points and corrective actions are functioning as intended.
Detailed and accurate records are maintained to provide evidence that the HACCP system is being followed and that food safety measures are in place. Documentation is essential for compliance, accountability, and continuous improvement.
Implementing a HACCP system can have a significant impact on your establishment in several ways, including its reputation, contamination prevention, and costs: