The 7 Principles of HACCP Food Safety: A Detailed Guide


Food businesses operating across the world must adhere to specific food safety protocols applicable to the law of the land; in return, the compliance ensures the businesses’ legitimacy and success—both to authorities and end-consumers. Adhering to safety protocols is especially important for food businesses as any safety hazards can lead to detrimental repercussions for both the customers and the business. This article lists the seven critical principles of the HACCP standard of food safety that folks in the food business must adhere to. 

What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, and it is one of the most widely used management systems for reducing food safety hazards and risks. 

In effect, it is a systematic approach to food safety designed to prevent any potential biological, chemical or physical hazard that can arise anywhere, from the creation process to food consumption, leading to the food becoming unfit for consumption. 

The system, first developed in the 1960s by NASA and food safety specialists, was devised to ensure astronauts on the Apollo 11 did not contact food-borne illness while in orbit. Sixty-two-years down the line, HACCP is the global standard for commercial food safety hazard prevention that signals edible end-products as fit to consume. 

However, unlike many management systems that utilize strict guidelines, HACCP food safety systems are designed as per certain principles. These principles ensure that the system can be easily incorporated with all kinds of food businesses while maintaining a high level of safety.

Also Read: Understanding and Implementing the 7 Principles of HACCP

7 Principles of HACCP You Need to Know

Depending on your requirements, these seven principles can be used to design a HACCP food safety system:

1. Perform hazard analysis to identify potential hazards

Before defining guidelines to follow in your food business, it is necessary to identify the possible risks. For this, companies should perform a comprehensive hazard analysis that involves testing, analyzing, and reporting all potential hazards throughout business functioning. 

For example, if a restaurant were to perform a hazard analysis, this would involve analyzing all steps involved in the food production—starting from the procurement of raw materials to food serving. 

In this case, hazards could be the cooking temperature of food or the possibility of contamination during storage, etc. 

2. List all the critical control points (CCPs)

The following principle to creating a HACCP food safety plan is to identify critical control points (CCPs). CCPs are steps in processes wherein adequate measures can ensure that a possible hazard is controlled or terminated. 

Thus, identifying CCPs will ensure your business can reduce the risk of potential hazards leading to food product contamination, among others.

When defining your CCPs, consider the specific layout, processes, and functioning of your own business. This is because CCPs are not pre-set guidelines and differ depending on the characteristics of each specific process.

That being said, some examples of common CCPs are:

  • A set amount of temperature that a food item should be cooked at
  • The maximum time that a dish can be cooked for
  • Hand washing criteria before a dish is plated for a customer

3. Set critical limits for all CCP’s

After identifying CCPs, you need to set critical limits for all of them. Critical limits define the maximum or minimum value that a CCP or hazard can reach before unacceptable levels. Going past the critical limit means that the food is not safe for consumption and thus, cannot be served to the end customer. 

Some standard criteria of critical limits that are set in HACCP systems are:

  • Temperature
  • pH level
  • Time

For example, if you are creating critical limits for cooking a certain type of meat, there would be a certain temperature range that it should be cooked at. If the temperature falls below or exceeds this range, this would be crossing the critical limits which means the meat is unsafe for further consumption.

4. Establish monitoring procedures for CCP’s

Monitoring is necessary to ensure that all processes and food items are within the set critical limits. This means creating set procedures for monitoring individual CCPs to ensure that they are within safe limits. 

Unfortunately, there is no specific method for creating monitoring procedures, and most businesses utilize checklists to ensure safety regularly.

5. Define corrective measures

It is challenging to ensure that all process and food items remain within critical limits even with continuous monitoring. Thus, HACCP food safety plans require creating corrective measures that can be taken if and when a process exceeds the critical limits.

These measures are designed specifically according to the identified food hazards and should either immediately terminate the hazard or prevent it from happening in the future. Some examples of corrective measures are:

  • Throwing away overcooked food
  • Changing supplies (spices, sauce, etc.) if they are stale or expired
  • Training and/or reprimanding employees who don’t adhere to hygiene guidelines

6. Set verification procedures

Verification processes are required to guarantee that a HACCP system is functioning correctly. These verifications can include auditing, inspections, feedback forms, etc., to confirm the effectiveness and efficiency of a HACCP system’s preventive measures.

7. Establish documentation and record-keeping guidelines

While your HACCP food safety system may be functioning perfectly, this doesn’t mean that errors can’t occur. Due to this, there must be proper documentation and record-keeping guidelines in place for all food-related processes. 

For example, an employee hygiene record that records hand washes or a food temperature record that tracks the temperature food is served at. While such documentation may be tedious, they can ensure issue identification and problem-solution at times of need.

Also Read: Why Good Manufacturing Practices are Vital in the Food Industry

With these principles, you can create a HACCP food safety system and ensure that your products are safe for consumption. However, while you can customize these principles to suit your business, do not skip any necessary steps that could compromise the system’s effectiveness.

If you want to learn more about HACCP food safety and create your system, we at Pulse can help you out! You can design, analyze, and audit your business and ensure food safety with Pulse’s state-of-the-art 360-degree audit and inspection platform. Click here to book a demo or contact us via email; we can help you build a suitable HACCP food safety plan for your business!