HACCP

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HACCP (Hazard Analysis and critical Control Points) is a set of procedures, aimed at ensuring food safety, based on prevention rather than analysis of the finished product.

HACCP analysis is based on monitoring food processing points which could bear a risk for contamination, whether this might be biological, chemical or physical. Its purpose is to identify and analyze food contamination hazards and develop systems suitable for their control.

Before the adoption of the HACCP system, these checks were carried out downstream of the production process, with analysis of the health of the finished product, ready for sale to the consumer. Often the product was consumed before any irregularity could be detected. Moreover, analysis was carried out by sampling (analysis of a lot by sampling) and the result of the analyzed sample did not always garantee a significant result, since a possible contamination could be distributed even heterogeneously in the lot.

After the enactment of 1997, the HACCP system was introduced in Italy. By promoting the concept of prevention, the HACCP system analyzes possible dangers that can be verified at every stage of the production process as well as in subsequent stages such as storage, transport, conservation and sale or consumption by the consumer. In other words, this control aims to monitor the entire supply chain of the food production and distribution process; the aim is to identify the process steps that could be a critical point.

The system places an important emphasis on food quality, particularly in terms of health and safety; this concept goes beyond simple customer satisfaction, aiming at the protection of public health.

What are critical control points?

This term indicates any phase or procedure of the food production process that can be monitored and controlled periodically in order to eliminate or at least reduce the risks related to the health and safety of a food product.

How many are the principles of the HACCP system?

There are seven principles of HACCP:

  • Hazards identification and risk analysis;
  • Identification of critical control points (CCPs);
  • Definition of critical limits for each critical control point (CCP);
  • Definition of monitoring procedures;
  • Definition and planning of corrective actions;
  • Establish procedures for ensuring the HACCP system is working as intended;
  • Definition of record keeping procedures;

Legislation

The first reference legislation for HACCP in Europe came into force in the early 90ies with Directive 1993/43/EEC, which was implemented in Italy with Legislative Decree 155/1997. This made HACCP mandatory for the entire food chain.

This legislation was subsequently replaced by EC Regulation 852/2004, which entered into force in January 2006, and was implemented in Italy with Legislative Decree 193/2007. This legislation imposed sanctions for non-compliance with the HACCP provisions for the first time.

The HACCP legislation requires mandatory procedures to be followed and those responsible for carrying out such procedures must be in possession of the necessary knowledge and skills to do so. However, legislation in Italy is of regional character, which means that each region has its own responsible department within which food safety is regulated.

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