HACCP Terms & Definitions

CORRECTIVE ACTION: A formal procedure to be followed when a deviation or failure to meet a Critical Control Point occurs.

CRITICAL CONTROL POINT (CCP): A step in a food process at which control can be applied in order to prevent a food safety hazard or to reduce its occurrence to an acceptable level.  Note: Under FSMA, these are called “Preventive Controls”.

CRITICAL LIMIT: The maximum or minimum value to which a hazard must be controlled in order to prevent a food safety hazard or reduce its occurrence to an acceptable level.

HAZARD: For the purposes of HACCP, a food safety hazard is considered any chemical, biological or physical property that may cause a food to be unsafe to consume. HACCP is not concerned with properties that may be merely objectionable or that only affect the quality of the food.

HAZARD ANALYSIS: The process of collecting and analyzing information about hazards for a particular food under consideration. The likelihood of occurrence and the severity of consequences are considered with the objective of deciding which hazards need to be addressed in the HACCP plan.

MONITORING: A planned sequence of observations or measurements performed in order to determine whether a Critical Control Point is under control and to produce an accurate record.

VALIDATION: Validation consists of activities designed to determine if the plan, when properly executed, will effectively control the significant hazards in the process.  As such it is not so much concerned with how employees perform the tasks associated with HACCP, but rather with the underlying scientific assumptions of the plan design itself.  For example, if a plan requires that a meat product be heated to a minimum center temperature of 160 F, validation would seek to determine if attainment of 160 would really control all of the organisms of public health significance that would be expected to be present in that product.  Validation is based on an evaluation of the science and technical data that form the basis of the HACCP plan.

VERIFICATION: Activities (other than monitoring) that determine the adequacy of and compliance with the HACCP plan.  In other words, verification of a plan seeks to determine if the plan is meeting its own requirements. In practice, verification would be done by reviewing the written plan for completeness, comparing its elements (such as flow charts) to the actual process to make sure they are in agreement, observing the actual process to see if monitoring, record-keeping and corrective actions are being performed according to the plan, and reviewing records for correctness and completeness.  Adequacy of calibration of test equipment would be included in a verification audit.  In most cases the auditor would interview operators to judge their level of training with regard to HACCP.  Most experts and some regulations require a minimum of annual documented verification of a HACCP plan. Failure to verify can result in a plan becoming obsolete and ineffective

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