HACCP System: A Foundation to Manage Food Safety Risks

    Food safety management systems often place HACCP at the center of control for specific food hazards. This makes sense particularly where a specific hazard linked to adverse impacts for the consumer can be identified. However, no matter how robust the HACCP system may be it requires a sound program of basic controls that address general hazards, many of which may not be identified, according Safefood 360. These programs are described as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Pre-requisite Programs (PRP) and Control Points (CP) to name a few. Regardless of the term used they all represent the basic requirement for good practice to provide a safe environment for the manufacture of food.

    “Soil deposits can harbor potentially harmful (pathogenic) microorganisms which if left to grow can present a serious risk to the health”

    Among the most important of these is the need to clean and sanitize your plant and equipment sufficient to produce food free of physical, allergenic, chemical and microbiological hazards. In addition, it is important that employees understand the reasons why a food plant must be cleaned. Simply instructing people is seldom enough to maintain high standards – they must also understand the reasons why, including: To reduce the risks from food hazards – food poisoning and foreign body contamination, to comply with local and international legislation, to meet specific customer requirements, to meet the requirements of global food safety standards (GFSI), to maintain positive audit and inspection outcomes, to allow maximum plant productivity, to present a hygienic visual image, to promote safe working conditions for staff, contractors and visitors, to maintain product shelf-life, to avoid pest infestation. At the most basic level, the visual appearance of a food factory is an indication of the standards and culture of the company. It has a strong impact on the perception of an auditor or visitor and can influence the overall outcome of audits and securing new business. For this reason, the visual cleanliness of a company is as important as detailed HACCP plans. Cleaning costs money. It is often perceived as a necessary evil which does not add value to a product directly. The cost of cleaning and indeed the cost of not cleaning are seldom measured routinely by food companies. Soil deposits can harbor potentially harmful (pathogenic) microorganisms which if left to grow can present a serious risk to the health of the consumer. In order to control this risk the soil must first be removed using an effective cleaning method, normally including a detergent as previously discussed. Typically the reduction achieved by cleaning is in the order of 3-4 logs per cm2. If the initial loading was 106 cm2 there will remain counts of 102-103 cm2 after cleaning. It is normally necessary to reduce the levels further to a few hundred and this is where the process of disinfection is used. It should be noted that sterilization, which is the elimination of all microorganisms is neither practical nor necessary in the disinfection of food plants. The group of chemicals known as disinfectants share many attributes with detergents but are different in terms of their function which is to kill microorganisms that are left on the surface after cleaning. The biocidal effect varies depending on the active component used in the disinfectant. It can be achieved by affecting the integrity of the cell wall or by interfering with critical metabolic reactions inside the cell. Most disinfectants are oxidizing and will react with organic materials including microorganisms. These particular disinfectants include chlorine, iodophors and peracetic acid. They are quick acting and broad spectrum. They are normally not stable in hot water and corrosive on a range of metals and other materials. Non oxidizing disinfectants are typically based on quaternary ammonium compounds which are a class of cationic surfactant, amphoterics, alcohols and aldehydes. They are usually heat stable, less corrosive and have a residual biocidal or biostatic effect.
    Safefood 360