In terms of foodservice, the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program put in place by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is wide reaching. From fisheries to farms and eventually to tables, there are rules and regulations in place to help ensure consumer safety. But what are these rules? How can you increase compliance? And how does HACCP relate to commercial refrigeration?
What Is HACCP?
HACCP 101. In short, HACCP is a systematic and preventative approach to food safety. There are many other aspects of HACCP that do not pertain to food and beverage such as handling blood in hospitals to cosmetics, but for the sake of this article, we're sticking to food.
The program began in the early 1960s as a collaboration between the Pillsbury Company, NASA, and the U.S. Army Laboratories. In addition to making sure the dough boy arrived safely on the moon, the group collaborated to ensure safe food for space exploration. It was originally founded on the principles to conduct hazard analysis, identify critical control points, and establish critical control point monitoring requirements.
Today, there are four additional principles, and as a whole, they all work to shift responsibility of food safety and food handling to the actual producers of food. The end goal is to ensure safe and uncontaminated consumption of food and beverage by consumers across the country, and these standard critical control point procedures are designed to do just that.
How to Increase HACCP Compliance?
Compliance can literally make or break a business. If a restaurant or foodservice operation or food supply manufacturer has too many items out of compliance on too many occasions, the facility may be forced to close. So what are some best practices for avoiding this?
First of all, an operation may want to consider an outside consulting agency to review all HACCP control points and develop processes for maximum compliance. Along these same lines, whether an outside agency assists or not, it's critical to train employees on the points of analysis.
A plan for compliance should also be developed and available to everyone within the operation. Steps to consider are receiving, the storage of food, preparation, cooking, cooling, reheating, holding, set up or packing, and serving or selling.
Lastly, all of the data resulting from operation must be recorded and stored. Periodic validation of the numbers will help an operation improve.
How Does Commercial Refrigeration Affect HACCP Compliance?
As we mentioned above, storing, cooling, and selling food are all considerations for compliance, and all of these steps are likely to use commercial refrigeration or freezers. Simply put, if your refrigeration isn't working properly, the conditions in which you store or cool food may not meet HACCP requirements.
According to another governmental organization that reviews food safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, commercial refrigeration is one of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen for keeping foods safe. It slows bacteria growth that grows most rapidly when foods are in the Danger Zone. This means commercial refrigeration equipment that operates reliably and efficiently is detrimental to meeting HACCP requirements.