The trade scenario has changed world over especially after the WTO agreements came into effect. Codex Alimentarius Commission recommended standards and guidelines regarding various aspects of Food Processing industry. These requirements have become benchmark for international trade. HACCP System for food safety management has become global requirement of international trade as a measure of installing higher confidence in food safety. Government has an important role in facilitating systems that promote greater food safety and awareness.
The Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene lay a firm foundation for ensuring effective food control and food hygiene. The General Principles of food hygiene follow the food chain from primary production to the consumer, highlighting the key hygiene controls at each stage. Codex has established HACCP based approach to ensure food safety as a benchmark in the International Food Trade. A Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach is recommended wherever possible to enhance food safety. The HACCP approach is internationally recognized as being effective in ensuring the safety and suitability of food for human consumption and in international trade.
The HACCP System, as it applies to food safety management, uses the approach of controlling critical points in food handling to prevent food safety problems. Besides enhancing food safety, other benefits applying HACCP include effective use of resources and timely response to food safety problems. In addition, the application of the HACCP system can result in more focused risk management by food control regulatory authorities and can promote international trade by increasing buyer confidence in food safety.
The HACCP system identifies specific hazards and control measures to ensure the safety of food. A HACCP plan is specific to the particular food and processing application. The HACCP system is capable of accommodating changes such as advances in equipment design, new information concerning health hazards or risks, new processing procedures or technological developments.
The history and background of the HACCP System
The objective is to introduce the trainees to the history and background of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system and its importance as a food safety management system in identifying and controlling food safety hazards.
The HACCP System for managing food safety concerns grew from two major developments. The first breakthrough was associated with W.E. Deming, whose theories of quality management are widely regarded as a major factor in turning around the quality of Japanese products in the 1950's. Dr. Deming and others developed total quality management (TQM) systems which emphasised a total systems approach to manufacturing that could improve quality while lowering costs.
The second major breakthrough was the development of the HACCP concept itself. The HACCP concept was pioneered in the 1960's by the Pillsbury Company, the United States Army and the US National Aeronautics and NASA as a collaborative development for the production of safe foods for the US space programs. Pillsbury introduced and adopted HACCP as the system that could provide the greatest safety while reducing dependence on end product inspection and testing.
Recognizing the importance of HACCP to food control, the 20th session of Codex Alimentarius Commission held in Geneva Switzerland adopted Guidelines for the application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).
Advantages of HACCP
The HACCP system as it applies to food safety management uses the approach of controlling critical points in food handling to prevent food safety problems. The system which is science based and systematic identifies specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. HACCP is based on prevention and reduces the reliance on end product inspection and testing.
The HACCP system can be applied throughout the food chain from the primary producer to the consumer. Besides enhancing food safety, other benefits of applying HACCP include more effective use of resources, savings to the food industry and more timely response to food safety problems. HACCP enhances the responsibility and degree of control at the level of the food industry. A properly implemented HACCP system leads to greater involvement of food handlers in understanding and ensuring food safety, thus providing them with renewed motivation in their work. Implementing HACCP does not mean undoing quality assurance procedures or good manufacturing practices already established by a company, it does, however, require a revision of these procedures as part of the systematic approach and for their appropriate integration into the HACCP plan.
The application of the HACCP System can aid inspection by food control regulatory authorities and promote international trade by increasing buyer's confidence.
Any HACCP system should be capable of accommodating change, such as advances in equipment design, changes in processing procedures or technological developments.
Application of HACCP
While the application of HACCP to all segments and sectors of the food chain is possible, it is assumed that all sectors should be operating according to good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and the Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene. The ability of an industry segment or sector to support or implement the HACCP system depends on the degree of its adherence to these practices.
The successful application of HACCP requires the full commitment and involvement of management and the workforce. It requires a multi disciplinary approach which should include, as appropriate, expertise in agronomy, veterinary health, microbiology, public health, food technology, environmental health, chemistry, engineering, etc. according to the particular situation. The application of the HACCP system is compatible with the implementation of TQM systems such as the ISO 9000 series.
HACCP and Trade
Significant implications for the Codex Alimentarius Commission arise from the Final Act of Uruguay Round, which was held in September 1986, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement).
The purpose of the SPS Agreement is to ensure that measures established by governments to protect human, animal and plant life and health, in the agricultural sector only, are consistent with obligations prohibiting arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination on trade between countries where the same conditions prevail and are not disguised restrictions on international trade.
The application of HACCP as a public policy requires, definition of the role of government in the utilization of the HACCP process. Food exporting countries may require additional resources to enhance their food industries to meet the requirements. Adequate steps should be taken to facilitate food trade, such as assessment of food safety, training of personnel, technology transfer and strengthening of the national food control system.
Food industries and food control regulatory agencies worldwide have shown interest in implementing the HACCP system. A common understanding about terminology and approaches for application will greatly enhance its adoption and will lead to a harmonized approach to food safety among countries all over the world. Many countries have integrated or are in the process of integrating the HACCP system into their regulatory mechanisms. In many countries, application of the HACCP system to foods may become mandatory. As a result, there is a tremendous demand, particularly in developing countries, for training in the HACCP system and for the development and assembly of reference materials to support this training.
Objectives of the FAO approach to HACCP
The objectives of the FAO approach to HACCP include:
- Promotion of the implementation of the HACCP system based on the harmonized Codex General Principles of Food Hygiene and GMPs
- Development of a program to train trainers who are in a position to train others who can apply the knowledge gained
- Identification and provision of appropriate reference and training materials on the application of HACCP to support the training
- Provision of training to individuals involved to varying degrees with the preparation, monitoring, administration and verification of HACCP plans
- Enhancement of the role of science and risk assessment in the development of HACCP systems.
- Creation of a framework for determining the equivalence of food safety control programs through a harmonized approach to the application of HACCP.