Whether in transport logistics, in food warehouses, or in restaurants: everyone who has to do with food has heard of the HACCP concept. But hardly anyone knows what exactly HACCP is, why it is so important and how to implement it successfully.
HACCP - in German: "Gefahrenanalyse und kritische Kontrollpunkte" (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) - is a concept for identifying and preventing hazards for the end consumer. It is mainly used in the food industry. First, all possible sources of danger are identified and analyzed. The decisive factor is how likely the hazard is to occur and how serious it would be for the end consumer. It must then be demonstrated that a suitable preventive measure exists for each of these hazard points. The implementation of these measures must be documented without exception, or they risk serious consequences for their company and, not least, for the end consumer.
Every food business operator is obliged to develop and implement a HACCP concept. Who exactly is a food business operator is of course difficult to generalize. However, if your business involves food in any way, you should check carefully whether you are also obliged to apply a HACCP concept. There are severe penalties if you do not comply with your obligation. Examples of food businesses include: food transport, cold storage, restaurants, food producers or processors.
But even if you do not belong to this group, an HACCP concept can be useful, for example, to better ensure occupational safety or sustainable action.
Generally applicable HACCP checklists are hard to find on the Internet. There is a simple reason for this: there are none. While many procedures in the food industry are very similar, each HACCP checklist is individual. Each food and each industry in itself, whether restaurant or meat processing, have different sources of danger and different measures. Therefore, you should always perform an accurate hazard analysis yourself or with external help. In this way, costly mistakes can be avoided.
The very first thing you should do is identify all possible sources of danger in and around your company. These can occur in many different places. For example, during production, storage or transport. These points are the "critical control points" which already appear in the name. At these points, explicit hazards are to be determined individually. An example: For foodstuffs that require an uninterrupted cold chain, the cold store and the refrigerated transport are possible critical points. The explicit hazard would be that the refrigeration has failed or has been set too low. This results in a concrete danger for the end customer.
To determine whether there is a concrete danger at a critical control point, it is advisable to use a risk matrix. Here is an example.
Identifying the hazards is the first step. Next, the prevention of these hazards must be ensured and, above all, logged. To do this, it must first be determined individually for each potential source of danger whether safety measures must be taken. Which measures are finally to be taken for which hazard is usually already specified or subject to precise regulations. However, exceptions are also possible here. However, it would go beyond the scope of this article to go into concrete measures. The best thing to do is to consult suitable experts to find out which measures should be taken in your company.
In a fruit processing plant, the danger of metal splinters getting into the fruit was identified, posing an enormous risk to the end consumer. A suitable measure would therefore be for all cartons to pass through a metal detector before leaving production. In this way, metal parts could be detected and removed. The risk was thus prevented. This measure must now be implemented and, above all, checked and recorded on a regular basis.
As soon as the hazard identification process has been completed and all measures have been implemented, your HACCP concept is ready. However, by far the most important part is the logging. You must ensure that it can be proven at any time that you have implemented the HACCP concept. This is regularly checked by an auditor. If not all hazards are prevented, or if the logging is faulty, this can lead to production or delivery stops or even product recalls. These measures then continue until the danger can be eliminated. An absolute horror for any company. Because such incidents cause a deep hole in the annual financial statements or can even threaten the existence of the company.
A good example to illustrate this is transportation, which is relevant in almost all areas of the food industry. Once transportation has been identified as a source of hazards, they can begin to determine the explicit hazards. An example of this would be refrigeration or simply cleanliness and germ contamination. To make this "critical control point" HACCP compliant, exact specifications must be followed during cleaning. The truck drivers and employees who are to ensure cleanliness in truck trailers with the high-pressure cleaner must receive further training in order to be able to carry out and record the cleaning in a HACCP-compliant manner. This also results in a high level of bureaucracy for the company and the drivers.
Once your completed HACCP concept is in place, it's time for optimization. Keeping the HACCP concept running can be very expensive. It is therefore even more important that your HACCP concept remains agile. To save costs, you should always look for cheaper or more efficient measures. Of course, safety must not suffer as a result. One example of this is the KATMA CleanControl:
In the future, interiors will be cleaned with the fully automated KATMA CleanControl. This is a patented robot that cleans fully autonomously and in a standardized manner. In doing so, it is not only faster and cheaper than cleaning with a high-pressure cleaner, but also significantly cleaner and more thorough. Through standardization, each wash cycle is assigned a digital certificate that is valid as HACCP proof. This saves expensive training, time and money. The certification is automatically transferred to the carrier's TMS (transportation management system or ERP) system and is as easily presentable as a Covid certificate. By far the safest way to clean and the new standard of cleanliness.
In conclusion, a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is pretty much what the name implies. A concept to prevent hazards and protect the end user. You can already make some valuable considerations about your HACCP concept based on this article. However, we always recommend that you consult someone who is more familiar with the exact hazards and measures. This way you will always be on the safe side and avoid high penalties for you personally or your company. Above all, make sure you have a solid record of your concept and measures. Once your concept is in place, you should always work on optimizing it.