HACCP Principles: Benchmark for Food Safety

The hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) food safety system was developed by the Pillsbury Company, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories in the late 1960s to develop foods for the space program.

First presented by Pillsbury at the 1971 National Conference on Food Protection, the HACCP system initially consisted of procedures designed for three purposes:

  • • identification and assessment of hazards associated with the growing, harvesting, processing-manufacturing, marketing, preparation, and use of a given raw material or food product;
  • • determination of critical control points (CCPs) at which identified hazards could be controlled; and
  • • establishment of procedures to monitor the CCPs.

 

These procedures were used, in part, by the low-acid canned food (LACF) industry in the development of good manufacturing practices to address Clostridium botulinum concerns in the early 1970s and, in 1973, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promulgate LACF regulations, which are contained in 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 113.

HACCP has gained international status as the premier food safety system in the European Union, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as other countries, and it serves as the foundation of the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius Commission’s General Principles of Food Hygiene.

In 1980, at the request of the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Natick Research and Development Center, the National Research Council (NRC) convened a panel of experts to formulate general principles for the application of microbiological criteria for foods. Based on the panel’s review, the HACCP principles introduced at the 1971 National Conference on Food Protection were endorsed, along with the recommendation that the principles be made mandatory for all food processors.

The NRC also recommended formation of a commission on microbiological criteria for foods, which was subsequently established in 1988 as the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), to advise food regulatory agencies about food safety. NACMCF drafted a guide containing HACCP principles and published papers in 1989, 1992, and 1997 that articulated and expanded the original HACCP principles. The principles, as defined in the NACMCF’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Principles and Application Guidelines, published in 1997, are the benchmark for all food safety programs (see Table 1).

Table 1

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The FDA promulgated HACCP regulations (21 CFR Parts 123 and 1240) in 1995. These mandated HACCP for all seafood production in the United States, as well as any seafood exported to the United States. This was followed in 1996 by a mandate from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for all federal- and state-inspected meat and poultry establishments, as well as for those establishments exporting meat and poultry to the United States, to follow HACCP guidelines (9 CFR 417). In 2001, the FDA again used HACCP, addressing serious public health issues associated with unpasteurized juice drinks by mandating HACCP (21 CFR 120) in the domestic juice industry, as well as for any companies that export juice to the United States.

International Status

HACCP has also gained international status as the premier food safety system in the European Union, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as other countries, and it serves as the foundation of the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius Commission’s General Principles of Food Hygiene.

For decades, the food industry has voluntarily embraced the HACCP principles as a system for improving food safety and conducting business. Many in the food service, dairy processing, produce, and live animal production industry have developed and implemented HACCP-based systems or good manufacturing practices consistent with the principles articulated by the NACMCF.

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