Understanding Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)

HACCP is an internationally recognized system used to enhance food safety throughout the food chain. More and more companies around the world are using HACCP to prevent, reduce or eliminate potential food safety hazards, including those caused by cross-contamination.

The development of a HACCP system involves:

  • identifying potential hazards
  • implementing control measures at specific points in the process
  • monitoring and verifying that the control measures are working as intended


What are the main elements of a HACCP system?

What principles does HACCP follow?


Compared to traditional inspection procedures, HACCP:

  • Provides a systematic approach to ensuring food safety
  • Gives more control over food safety to the processor
  • Is based on science, rather than simply past experience or subjective judgment
  • Focuses on preventing problems before they occur. This approach yields far better results than trying to detect failures through end-product testing

What are the main elements of a HACCP system?

There are two main elements of an effective HACCP system (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point):

1. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)

GMPs are designed to control hazards related to plant personnel and the food processing environment. Implementing GMPs creates a safe and suitable environment for food processing. GMPs include procedures and monitoring activities to help ensure that people and premises do not present food safety hazards. GMPs lay the foundation for effective HACCP Plans, and must be developed and implemented prior to HACCP Plans.

Examples of GMPs:

  • Personnel practices
  • Pest control
  • Sanitation
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Water safety
  • Shipping, receiving, handling and storage
  • Recall
  • Location and design of your facility.

2. HACCP plans

HACCP plans control hazards that are:

  1. Directly related to products, ingredients, and processes
  2. Not covered by GMPs.

HACCP plans prevent, eliminate or reduce potential food safety hazards to an acceptable level, including hazards caused by cross-contamination.

Overview of steps to develop a HACCP plan:

  1. Describe your product, process, and hazards.
  2. Analyze your operations to identify any major food safety hazards.
  3. Put control measures in place at specific steps in the process to control major food safety hazards.
  4. Monitor how well the control measures work. If a hazard is not adequately controlled, take actions to correct the failure.
Examples of control measures in a HACCP plan:
  • Metal detection
  • Cooking
  • Labelling of allergens
  • Weighing restricted ingredients

What principles does HACCP follow?

HACCP plans follow seven core principles. These principles were standardized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations to develop food standards, guidelines, and related texts.

1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis

This involves:

  • Identifying the hazards that might affect a particular product in a specific processing facility
  • Collecting and evaluating information on the hazards and the conditions leading to their presence
  • Deciding which hazards are significant to food safety. Your operation must address these hazards through its HACCP plan(s).

2. Determine the Critical Control Points

A critical control point (CCP) is a point, step or procedure in the process where food processors can apply a control measure. It is essential to prevent, eliminate or reduce a food safety hazard to an acceptable level. To determine the CCPs in your process, you must identify where you can prevent, reduce or eliminate the hazards addressed in your HACCP plan.

3. Establish Critical Limits

Critical limits are criteria that separate safe product from unsafe product. You must set critical limits for each CCP. Critical limits must be clearly defined and measurable.

4. Establish Monitoring Procedures

Monitoring is the scheduled measurement or observation of a CCP relative to its critical limits. All monitoring results must be recorded.

5. Establish Corrective Actions

If your monitoring detects a problem, there is a risk your operation has produced or will produce unsafe food. Your organization must have a plan in place to deal with these risks. For each CCP, you must document the corrective actions you will take to:

  • regain control of the hazard
  • identify and control all affected product and
  • prevent the problem from happening again

6. Establish Verification Procedures

Verification procedures are used to determine if the HACCP system is working correctly. Verification involves methods, procedures, tests and other checks in addition to monitoring.

7. Establish Record-Keeping and Documentation Procedures

You must document your HACCP plans, from start to finish. This includes all of the items listed above. All required monitoring and verification records must be complete and accurate.

Learn More

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: FoodSafety@ontario.ca

Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 15 March 2009
Last Reviewed: 08 June 2018