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HACCP-based Procedures

Q. What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. A food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying and controlling hazards, whether microbiological, chemical or physical, that could pose a threat to the production of safe food – in simple terms, it involves identifying what could go wrong in a food system and planning how to prevent it.

Q. Is HACCP a legal requirement for all food businesses?

Yes. Since 1998, it has been a legal requirement for all food businesses to have a food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP. Under current legislation, a “food business” is defined as “…any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any or all of the following: preparation, processing, manufacturing, packaging, storing, transportation, distribution, handling or offering for sale or supply of foodstuffs”.

Q. Is there flexibility in relation to compliance with the HACCP requirement?

Yes, there is certain flexibility in relation to compliance with the HACCP requirement. The legislation recognises that in food businesses undertaking low-risk activities, the prerequisite programmes (PRPs) are sufficient to control food safety without the need to develop HACCP-based procedures. For more information on HACCP flexibility please refer to Guidance Note 11 Assessment of HACCP Compliance (Revision 2)

Q. What are prerequisite hygiene requirements?

All food businesses have to comply with the prerequisite hygiene requirements which are set out in the food hygiene legislation (Regulation EC (No) 852/2004/EC) under Article 4 and in Annex II. In some cases, complying with these prerequisites may be all that is required for a food business to meet their HACCP requirement.

Q. What are the steps involved in HACCP?

There are seven HACCP principles which must be considered when developing a food safety management system:

1. Identify what could go wrong (the hazards)
2. Identify the most important points where things can go wrong (the critical control points – CCPs)
3. Set critical limits at each CCP (e.g., cooking temperature/time)
4. Carry out checks at CCPs to prevent problems occurring (monitoring)
5. Decide what to do if something goes wrong (corrective action)
6. Prove that your HACCP Plan is working (verification), and
7. Keep records of all of the above (documentation)

You can find out more information about these steps in Guidance Note 11.

Q. When my HACCP plan is complete do I ever need to review it?

Your HACCP plan must be kept up to date. You will need to review it from time to time, especially whenever something in your food operation changes, for example, if you decide to start hot holding food you will need to update your plan to include this additional step.

Q. Is there any resource available to help me set up my own HACCP plan?

The FSAI published the Safe Catering Pack which is a tool to help caterers develop a system to manage food safety and comply with the food hygiene regulations. It presents options for businesses to choose how they are going to do this. The pack has been developed with help and expertise from the food industry and Environmental Health Officers. It is based on the principles of HACCP.

For more information on the pack, you can visit our Safe Catering Pack section which explains the benefits and contents of the pack.