It was a big jump forward. The focus shifted from end-product testing to preventative risk management. But it hasn’t been a perfectly smooth road from theory to practice. Over the years, gaps in HACCP’s effectiveness have gone unaddressed. It’s only more recently that we’ve considered what went wrong and how we can fix it.
Where do we go from here?
The general consensus is that there’s not a lot of issues with HACCP as a tool. It’s mainly the way we use the tool that needs updating.
A few areas have been identified for growth. Among them are using Failure Mode and Effect Analysis to improve our use of CCPs (Critical Control Points), and using data more extensively. But one of the biggest concerns impacting the evolution of HACCP is the way it transfers from paper to reality. How do we take a solid HACCP plan, and put it to work with actual employee behaviours?
Training is the most important component. And it has to be an on-going process translating food safety ideas on paper, to action in the plant.
“The unfortunate aspect of HACCP training is that there is no industry best practice for when it expires,” says Cathy Crawford, Vice President of U.S.-based HACCP Consulting Group.
“Often when people become certified they do not become re-certified for another two to five years. HACCP training needs to be a part of everyday operations, with all employees actively engaged.”
Specifying the intervals at which refresher training is mandated is a basic improvement that can make sure HACCP is top of mind and well understood among all employees – this builds a strong food safety culture.
Another way to heighten HACCP engagement is by linking PRPs (Prerequisite Programs, such as Good Manufacturing and Good Handling Practices) and CCPs.
PRPs are the nuts and bolts of everyday operations. They dictate how employees behave as they carry out their duties, whether it’s operating equipment, washing hands, or keeping the environment clear of opportunities for contamination.
The people on the floor are the sentinels that can guard against risk. Activate their way of thinking and you’ve got an immediate boost to your food safety system.
“A successful training program is on-going and includes on-the-floor mentoring. Employees need to know fundamentally what a small action like washing hands as part of food sanitation and hygiene means for the big picture,” asserts Cathy.
Crawford, who works closely with food businesses and restaurants providing HACCP training, believes “All employees must recognize risk, and the part they play when it comes to something as critical as food safety.”
Bringing PRPs and HACCP under the same umbrella can have another benefit – it fosters a food safety culture. Which essentially means making employee behaviours the foundation of food safety.
A large part of the evolution of HACCP relies on engaging employees, helping them see where they fit in the big picture, and motivating them with knowledge rather than simply telling them what to do. This allows employees to see food safety as a value, and in turn use the principles of HACCP consistently within their GMPs and GHPs.
There are many reputable food safety and HACCP groups and training resources that provide cutting-edge HACCP knowledge to help you make the leap from a HACCP plan, to a HACCP plan in action. This is the key to the evolution of HACCP as we know it today.
About the Author
Cathy Crawford, Vice President of HACCP Consulting Group is a Consultant and Trainer with more than 15 years experience working with food businesses on Food Safety, HACCP and GFSI.
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