HACCP is an abbreviation for the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system,which is synonymous with food safety management. It is “a system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety.” HACCP is a system that gives confidence that food safety is being managed effectively. The system looks for hazards, or anything that could go wrong regarding product safety, and implements controls subsequently to ensure that the product will not cause harm to the consumer.
HACCP was developed originally as a microbiological safety system in the early days (1960s) of the US manned space programme, as it was vital to ensure the safety of food for astronauts. The Pillsbury Company working alongside the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States and the US Army Laboratories developed the original system.
A “hazard” as used in the HACCP system is defined as “a biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of food, with the potential to cause an adverse health effect”. A “Critical Control Point” (CCP) is “a step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level”.
HACCP is based on the principle that hazards affecting food safety can be either eliminated or minimized by prevention during production rather than by inspection of the finished product. Its goal is to prevent hazards at the earliest possible point in the food chain. The HACCP approach can be applied right from harvest to the point of consumption. Adding HACCP to traditional inspection and quality control activities would lead to a preventive quality assurance system in a company. Companies using the HACCP system will be able to provide greater confidence about food safety to consumers as well as to food regulatory authorities.