What is HACCP?

HACCP infogram

HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) is a systematic approach to identifying and preventing food safety hazards within the context of a food manufacturing environment. The HACCP tool is used to identify potential areas called ‘hazards’ within the manufacturing process which if allowed to occur could render the food harmful to humans and unsafe for consumption.

These hazards are grouped into categories under the HACCP system. Although from time to time these groupings evolve to include new categories, the four main hazard categories are biological, chemical, physical and allergens.

In brief the HACCP process involves constructing a process flow diagram for each product and/or process within the facility, and identifying the hazards at each step. Once the food safety hazards have been identified, the likelihood and severity of each hazard is rated and an average is determined by the HACCP team. Next the Critical Control Points (CCP) are identified, these are any hazards where control is critical in order to maintain food safety. For each CCP the critical limit is then established, which is a measurable range that separates conforming from non-conforming product.

Once these limits are in place, monitoring procedures need to be instituted as part of the HACCP programme; these can be devices such as thermometers to verify cooking temperature, or a simple checklist followed by a competent staff member. Any deviations from the critical limits that are picked up by the monitoring procedures are taken to corrective action. This is the procedure used in the HACCP system to identify the root cause of the non-conformance in order to correct it and prevent it from reoccurring. The corrective action procedure is aimed at identifying how, when, and why the non-conformance took place.

The sixth principle of HACCP is verification, which is the use of science based techniques such as trending, auditing and testing to verify that the HACCP system is working effectively. Part of verification is also reviewing the HACCP system at periodic intervals and making changes or updating as necessary. Of course all aspects of the HACCP programme need to be documented. This highlights the seventh HACCP principle – Establishing documentation & records.


The HACCP system was developed in the 1970s through collaboration between Pilsbury, the US Government and NASA. In 1997, the HACCP system was adopted and harmonised by the Codex Alimentarius commission (Food standards and food safety organ of the World Health Organisation), and what we know today as the 7 HACCP Principles, was published.

The application of the HACCP system is based upon the 7 HACCP principles detailed in the Codex Standard, which are represented in the infogram below:

Chimera systems offers HACCP training and assistance with the development of a HACCP system customised to your raw materials, manufacturing facility, and products and processes.

HACCP training, and HACCP facilitation and development is also included in our Food Safety Management System package. For more information on total quality management systems and the Food Safety Management system package we offer, please see our Food Safety Management Systems page.