Food Safety Update: HACCP Planning
The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food
safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on HACCP Planning.
Jesse Osborne, Editor
AHazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system serves as a critical part of the food safety program for food facilities across the United States. A recent Food Manufacturing survey polled food industry personnel to determine both their successes and
challenges in developing and implementing HACCP systems in their facilities.
More than 69 percent of survey respondents said a commitment to food safety prompted the
development of a HACCP plan at their respective facility. More than 54 percent of respondents cited
regulatory requirements, while more than 38 percent said customer demands played a role in their
company’s HACCP development.
When it comes to the challenges involved in developing a HACCP plan, two topics stood out.
Nearly 45 percent of respondents cited confusion over determining what constitutes a critical control
point. A critical control point is a specific point, procedure or step at which control can be exercised to
reduce, eliminate or prevent the possibility of a food safety hazard. Meanwhile, more than 39 percent
said confusion over regulatory requirements were a challenge. Slightly more than 20 percent noted
receiving conflicting advice from consultants, while 19. 7 percent encountered difficulty with employee
buy-in. Close to 18 percent cited difficulty justifying the expense of HACCP plan development.
More than half (52 percent) of respondents said they worked with consultants when developing their HACCP plans, and 42.5 percent said they consulted with internal QA/QC experts during
plan development. Nearly 35 percent reported consultation with government agencies during the
process. Other groups consulted by those polled included: universities ( 14. 5 percent), employees
( 13.1 percent), customers ( 10. 4 percent) and equipment vendors ( 8. 6 percent).
In terms of time spent developing a HACCP plan, one-third of respondents ( 33. 3 percent)
reported spending three-to-six months on the process. Another 24. 5 percent said the process
lasted six-to-nine months. More than 21 percent reporting a time of nine months or more, while
20. 8 percent said the process was completed in three months or less.
More than half of respondents (50.5 percent) said their HACCP plans are living documents that are constantly open to revision. More than 29 percent report revising their plans once per year. Other HACCP plan
revision timelines mentioned include: less frequently than once per year ( 9. 6 percent), twice per year ( 6. 8
percent) and quarterly ( 4.1 percent).
When asked what factors have been key to effective HACCP plan revisions, nearly 60 percent noted the input of internal QA/QC experts. Other significant factors mentioned were: employees ( 37. 2 percent), customers ( 35. 3 percent), government agencies ( 32.1 percent) and consultants ( 27. 9 percent).
When asked how they view HACCP planning, more than 61 percent said the plan is fluid and always open to change, with the remaining 38. 4 percent
saying they set a plan and revisit it periodically for review/changes.
The vast majority of respondents said they are very happy or satisfied with the HACCP plan their facility had developed. More than 44 percent of
respondents said they are “satisfied” with their plan, and 35. 3 percent said they are “very happy” with theirs. Just less than 15 percent said their plan
More than 73 percent of respondents said their facility does not produce poultry, meat, seafood or juice,
for which the FDA provides stricter and more tailored HACCP planning guidance. Nearly 27 percent said
they did fall into that category.
More than 39 percent of respondents said the signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act in
2011 — and FSMA final rules coming later this year — have caused their facility to change or update its
HACCP plans. More than 60 percent said the passage of FSMA has not led to plan changes or updates.
When asked if there are plans in place to expand the HACCP process to incorporate food defense
vulnerabilities considering FSMA’s requirements to implement preventive controls for food defense, nearly
half (48.2 percent) of respondents said they already have those plans in place. More than 27 percent said
they are evaluating whether or not to expand their planning process as a result. More than 22 percent said
they plan to incorporate food defense vulnerabilities to their plan, and 6. 3 percent said they will not. ◆
How do you view HACCP planning?
What factors have been key to effective
HACCP plan revision in your facility?
Internal QA/QC experts
How happy are you with
the HACCP plan your facility
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