HACCP Software

HACCP Software

On 1st January 2006 the European Food Regulations EC Regulation 852/2004 was implemented in the Britain through the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2005 and similar legislation for the rest of the UK.

These EU based food hygiene regulations had largely the same requirements as the old UK regulations. The one major departure is that the 2005 Regulations demand that all food businesses have in place a written Food Safety Management System based on HACCP principles, with appropriate records.

It is this requirement for a written HACCP based system, with records, that has brought into prominence the use of HACCP software.

Before we consider the actual use of HACCP software we must define what HACCP is. HACCP stands for “Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point”. HACCP is an internationally recognised food safety management system that allows the critical food safety steps in the food business to be identified and then controls put in place to ensure each critical step is completed safely. It is a system that lends itself to the use of HACCP software.

Although the HACCP system is quite straightforward, it can be daunting for those in the food trade who are not use to considering terms like analysis, monitoring, control, validation etc. and it is here that HACCP software cam help.

That is not to say that HACCP software is essential for the implementation of a HACCP system. There are a number of paper-based HACCP management systems. Assured Safe Catering, is one long established system that requires the identification of the critical steps in a catering business, and these will be similar for most caterers (e.g. purchase, storage, preparation, cooking, cooling, reheating and service). Once the critical steps have been identified for an individual business and the critical limit set e.g. a minimum cooking temperature of 75°C, written records are kept of the temperatures achieved (and of the monitoring of other critical limits). This system can be very effective although those implementing it will need to have a very good understanding of the HACCP principles that underlie it. However, it cannot provide the prompts and guidance that can be incorporated in good HACCP software.

To provide more guidance and produce less form filling than is necessary in the Assured Safe Catering system; the Food Standards Agency sponsored the development of Safer Food Better Business (SFBB). This comprises a manual that describes in words and pictures a range of catering (and food retailing) systems that are common and identifies the critical points, critical limits, controls, and appropriate monitoring in each case. The use of a simple diary for record keeping reduces the paperwork and time required for this system.

HACCP software is therefore only one way in which the requirement for each food business to implement a food safety management system based on HACCP principles can be achieved. However, depending on its structure HACCP software can be easy to use, provide a ready identification of critical control points, give guidance on critical limits, monitoring and reduce the amount of paperwork necessary.

HACCP software from Healthy Distance helps food business to implement a food safety management system based on HACCP principles.

HACCP Software

HACCP Software

HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) is the main way that almost all Countries in the world use to ensure safer food from our food producing factories and, since 2006, our restaurants, pubs, hotels and other catering businesses. Yet, ignorance prevails throughout the UK and the world on what HACCP is really all about. Even our auditing and inspection organisations have widely different views as to what how it is to be implemented.

HACCP is based on seven principles which effectively state that for any food preparation process we should firstly map out a process flow diagram of the steps involved in making the food. Then, for each process step, we look carefully at the things that could go wrong that might result in the consumer becoming ill or being injured, e.g. the growth of harmful bacteria in the food due to the temperature being too high. At this stage we then do some risk analysis to assess if the risk is significant or not and if it is we then identify a control measure for the hazard. Having identified a significant hazard we now proceed to implement a control measure and then decide if the hazard is a CCP (Critical Control Point) or not.

A CCP is basically a hazard that if NOT CONTROLLED would make people ill or cause them injury. If we identify the hazard as a CCP then we must set critical limits, e.g. Temperature 1-5oC along with a monitoring procedure and corrective action to be implemented if the critical limits are breached.

So if we look at it HACCP is a logical process that takes us through the process of:

1. Identification of hazards for a given process

2. Decide if each hazard is a significant risk or not

3. If significant implement a means of controlling the hazard

4. Decide if the hazard is critical to food safety

5. Set levels that are safe for the hazard

6. Implement monitoring

7. Decide on what corrective action to take if the levels are breached

HACCP is easy to explain in terms of an everyday task such as driving your car. If you think of the process of driving down the road. A number of hazards may present themselves, it may be wet or icy outside and these mean that the risk of skidding is higher than normal. Therefore the hazard would be ‘Crash the car due to icy conditions’ . If the road is very icy then the risk would be high and therefore we would want to have a control measure to prevent us crashing. The control measure would be ‘Drive slowly and carefully.’

If we look at the consequences of crashing we could be killed and therefore we have to say this would be Critical and is therefore a CCP (Critical Control Point). We might decide that it is safe to drive in these conditions at a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour; this would be our critical limit. Our monitoring procedure would be to keep an eye on the speedometer to ensure we do not exceed 10 mph. The corrective action is to gently apply the brakes until we are within the speed limits set.

The above demonstrates that HACCP (or at least the principles of it) is something that we all do naturally every single day of our lives (even without thinking of it!) and yet, as soon as we need to consciously apply these same principles to food safety many have difficulty with it.

This process can be daunting to those who have not been trained in HACCP and this is where HACCP Software can help. There are several software solutions around that will give the basics but what most people need is a system that provides:

1. A framework that guides you through the process above

2. Built in training in HACCP that makes sense and is explained in easy to understand terms

3. A built in knowledge base of hazards, control measures, critical limits, monitoring procedures and corrective actions.

The software should come with ongoing support, training and be regularly updated to reflect the ongoing changes in legislation and HACCP.

For more information on HACCP Software please visit http://www.haccpnow.co.uk or contact jim.flynn@haccpnow.co.uk.