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What is Critical Control Point in HACCP

In this short piece, we will try to cover what Critical Control Point means in HACCP. In one of our previous articles, we have talked about The HACCP System, Principles, Plan, Steps And Training Cost, but here we will talk about this other important aspect of HACCP; Critical Control Point.

What is Critical Control Point in HACCP

Let us start with what a control point is – A control point is any step at which biological, chemical, or physical factors can be controlled.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a Critical Control Point as 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.

So when we talk about “What Is Critical Control Point In HACCP“, we can say that its a step at which control can be applied which will be essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level within the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system.

Critical Control Points Examples

Let us consider some critical control points in the food industry. In a very brief recap, the Critical Control Points with acronym CCPs are specific steps or stages in the production process where control measures are applied to prevent, eliminate, or reduce significant food safety risks.

Here are five examples of critical control points in HACCP, along with explanations for each:

1. Cooking Temperature: Cooking is a critical control point because it helps eliminate harmful microorganisms like bacteria and parasites. The cooking temperature and time must be precisely controlled to ensure the food reaches a safe internal temperature. For example, poultry should reach at least 165°F (73.9°C) to kill pathogens like Salmonella and Campylobacter.

2. Cooling and Refrigeration: Cooling and refrigeration are also crucial steps in preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Food must be rapidly cooled from its cooking temperature to below 40°F (4.4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth. Controlling the cooling process and maintaining proper refrigeration temperatures are essential CCPs.

3. Cross-Contamination Prevention: Controlling cross-contamination is vital in preventing the spread of foodborne pathogens. At various points in food production, strict measures must be taken to prevent the transfer of pathogens from raw to ready-to-eat foods. For instance, handwashing and equipment sanitation are CCPs to ensure hygiene and prevent cross-contamination.

4. Raw Material Inspection: The inspection and testing of raw materials are essential to ensure they meet safety standards. Contaminated or substandard ingredients can introduce hazards into the production process. Monitoring the quality of incoming raw materials and verifying their safety is a critical control point.

5. Packaging and Storage: Packaging and storage conditions can impact food safety. Packaging must be intact to prevent physical contamination and maintain product integrity. Additionally, storage temperatures must be controlled to prevent spoilage and pathogen growth. Monitoring these factors during packaging and storage is crucial for food safety.

READ: Physical Hazards In Food

Critical control points in HACCP represent key stages where food safety risks are assessed and controlled, by identifying and closely monitoring these points, food producers can ensure the safety of their products and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses for consumers. Each critical control point involves specific measures and controls tailored to the particular hazards associated with that stage of the production process, ultimately safeguarding the quality and safety of the food supply.

HACCP Plan & HACCP steps

There are 12 necessary steps for HACCP implementation, they are:

  1. Create the food safety team
  2. Describe the food in great detail
  3. Describe the intended consumer and how they are going to consume the food
  4. Diagram the process flow, from receiving to shipping
  5. Verify the process flow diagram
  6. Conduct a hazard analysis
  7. Determine critical control points
  8. Set critical limits
  9. Establish monitoring procedures
  10. Establish corrective actions
  11. Verify, then validate
  12. Establish good record keeping
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