Special thanks to Stephen Bell MPI
HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points
we will be looking at techniques to prevent those problems occurring – predominately HACCP - Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points.
For many years the food industry has worked hard to ensure the products reaching the consumer are attractive, nutritious, safe and profitable. Before we get into HACCP let's look at the traditional "Quality Control".
The process with "Quality Control" has been to:
- take samples from production line;
- test for microbial and physical contamination;
- conduct storage trials.
The downside of this process is that while tests are being carried out production can, and usually will continue – as some tests can take a week or more there can be a significant quantity of defective product distributed and sold.
If the product is a long shelf life product, such as canned baked beans, storing comparative samples of every batch can take large quantities of storage space. For example if a company put out a large range of product with an extensive shelf life, but did not actually know how long the product would actually last – they could make an educated guess when starting production, but should have an accurate assessment. So if they kept a box of each batch produced, with each box holding five units and they produced three batches a week for 48 weeks that could be quite a lot of storage space. Rarely do companies have single products so think how much space might be required if they have twenty different products!
Now in this example what happens if testing on batch xxxxz twelve months after production indicates a serious defect? Luckily we will be covering recall procedures later!
Any sampling programme is critical, otherwise results do not demonstrate that batch of food is safe. To be 100% sure you may need to sample every product – which is quite unrealistic. However the development of sampling programmes do need to be credible and statistically significant. Some procedures critical in industry have only limited applications in the retail food industry – you would not wait three days at a restaurant while they were checking the microbial quality of your chicken salad – and after three days you probably wouldn't want it anyway!