Identifying critical control points is a key element of a HACCP plan. In order to answer the question “What is a Critical Control Point?” it is important to have clear understanding of other important HACCP steps and principles.
Identifying hazards is the first principle of HACCP and an essential component to determining critical control points. It involves identifying what could go wrong in the production process that might result in the food becoming unsafe. For example, a hazard in production might appear if a food is not cooked to the right temperature as this allows bacterial survival, which could cause food poisoning.
What is a control measure?
A control measure is the action we take in the production of food which help us eliminate a hazard or reduce it to a safe level. For example, the action of keeping ready-to-eat food in the refrigerator at 5c or below which reduces multiplication of pathogenic bacteria.
What is critical control point?
A critical control point is a step in the production where taking control measures is essential. Without this step the food we produce would be unsafe. CCPs tend to be cooking, and hot or cold storage of food, as losing control of temperature (for example by keeping hot food below 63C for longer than 2 hours) would mean that the food would be unsafe for the consumer. CCPs are identified through the expertise and judgement of those responsible for the HACCP plan.
How to keep a critical control point at a safe level?
Further steps and principles in the HACCP plan require that we identify critical limits. These tend to be values such as time, temperature or size which are unambiguous and can be measured. Once the critical limits have been decided a plan needs to me made for how they are going to be measured. For example, if the CCP is microorganisms surviving in chicken when its cooked, the critical limit would be the temperature that we must reach (75c for 30 seconds) and the measuring would be the equipment we use, a probe thermometer. Corrective measures would need to be planned, such as cooking the chicken for longer if the temperature has not been reached.
HACCP training and implementation
HACCP development and implementation requires specific knowledge and expertise. UK legislation requires that those responsible for the development and implementation of the system have received adequate training.
Envesca offers both a Level 2 and 3 Awards in HACCP. To find out more about these courses simply click on the links below: