Many people go through out their daily lives consuming, making, and purchasing food products without a concern of how safe the stuff they are eating actually is. This food could be home to microbes that can damage our bodies and in severe cases even kill people. Some records of contaminated food in the past state that “contaminated food is responsible for 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths each year in the United States (Dewaal, 2003, p.75-79).” These numbers might not even be accurate since they are from quite some time ago and the fact that not all cases are reported. The evidence is out there from the several cases of recalls the food industry puts out there each year to the high-profile contamination cases like the one associated with Jack in the Box where people were exposed to Escherichia coli O157:H7. The pathogens that cause these recalls pose a great threat; which has led to the creation of organizations like the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) to reduce the problem. HACCP is an organization who “is internationally recognized as the best method of assuring product safety by controlling foodborne safety standards (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” They apply their safety measures to different foods that people consume. This paper will identify who HACCP is, the guidelines used for HACCP in the United States and other countries, and how HACCP is used on specific food types.
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The organization known as HACCP has come a long way in the food industry and has a history that stretches back farther than most people would think. The development of this came about due to “the Pillsbury company being involved with United States space program where they did experiments and worked on things related to food production (Bauman, 1995, p. 1-7).” They were contacted by “the quartermaster of The Food and container Institute in 1959 (Bauman, 1995, p. 1-7).” The reason Pillsbury was contacted was because, “NASA was trying to develop food that could be consumed in zero gravity and more importantly create food that would not be contaminated with pathogens (Bauman, 1995, p. 1-7),” and they thought the companies experience in the food industry would be helpful in accomplishing this goal. While trying to find a way to prevent any pathogens from getting in the food they noticed part of the problem was “that the current quality assurance systems used by the food industry as a whole were not good enough and the way food was checked by these companies varied from place to place (Bauman, 1995, p. 1-7).” The insufficiencies in quality assurance at the time led to the new system being created, HACCP. One of things added to the food inspection process was “allowing for the origins of raw materials and where things were produced so that there is a history for the product,” this allows for the origins of pathogens to be located before they spread to more people. Today this organization is used in the modern food industry for products like, “the meat, poultry, and fish which are mandated to use HACCP (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401),” and is also used for many other products.
The HACCP procedures used for each company may vary from place to place but they all have some general principles they abide by. Even though you can’t’ completely eliminate pathogens in food HACCP can get really close. HACCP takes control of this by “taking a structured approach to identifying, assessing the risk, and handling hazards associated with the food production process (Varzkas, 2008).” There are many things required of organizations that are involved in HACCP these requirements are; “establish critical limits when needed, confirm that individual facility HACCP plans are good to assure food safety, do risk evaluations to develop information to improve HACCP plans, work with groups to identify new food hazards, support research that helps with monitoring food, and take necessary means to keep food safe (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” Through doing all these evaluations and research they try to stay ahead of contamination. HACCP essentially tries to “locate issues before they occur and make safety measures at certain points in production to keep the food safe (Varzkas, 2008).” The point where pathogens contaminate the food can be just about any spot in the processing which adds to the difficulty in keeping products safe. One of the great things that HACCP has going for it is the fact that, “safety is key for the HACCP process which reduces need for excessive microbiological testing (Varzkas, 2008),” this in turn allows for money and time to be saved from having to do a lot of testing. Ultimately HACCP plans are guided by seven principles that apply to all companies associated with HAACP and these are; conduct a hazard analysis, identify critical control points, establish critical limits, establish monitoring procedures, establish corrective actions, establish verification procedures, and record keeping procedures. The companies under HACCP have to make sure that they are constantly following these regulations. In order for them to maintain it “each individual facility has its own team that is responsible for upholding their HACCP plan (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” Another way HACCP keeps these individual companies responsible for upholding the values of HACCP is by “having an up to date HACCP plan that is available to be viewed by regulatory personnel (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401),” that way employees can always make sure their actions are in line with the company’s standards. These plans are not set in stone and can be changed in certain situation if “the current plans are found to have faults the HAACCP plan can be amended in any means that makes sure that the food being sent to consumer is pathogen free (Kvenberg, 2000, p. 387-401).” When this regulatory group is accessing the food, there are goals that they strive towards which are; “to make food safer by preventing problems, making it so resources can be utilized towards food safety, provide consumers with assurance that their food is safe, and continue preventing issues and solving them when they occur (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” A HACCP run company is always trying to come up with new controls in order to keep their food safe but, how exactly do they justify the means for new controls? This is accomplished using methods like “scientific publications, historical knowledge, regulatory documents, experimental trials, scientific models, operational data, and surveys (Scott, 2005, 497-503).” These reasons for validation tie back into what was said earlier about why it is important to do research on the food production process. These HACCP principles are carried out and used by many different companies in order to keep their products safe and consumers happy.
HACCP is involved in keeping many food production industries safe and one of those is the fishery companies. The fishery industry is one that “is required by the FDA to have a HACCP plan built into their company since 1997 (Alberini, 2008, p. 29).” This is due to fish commonly being susceptible to contamination. HACCP for the fish industry shares similarities with other HACCP associated companies in that it “has a written plan that incorporates HACCP principles into its operation which is then approved by the FDA whom continue to do frequent HACCP checks to the company (Alberini, 2008, p. 29).” The fisheries following HACCP plans not only benefit by having safe fish for consumption. They also receive the benefit of “having an increased demand of the fish from the public due to more assurance in its safety (Alberini, 2008, p. 29).” Foods made in the fish industry of categories assigned to them depending on their pathogen threat which are “Substantial risk potential and low risk potential (Kvenburg, 2000, p.387-401).” The products that HACCP says have substantial risk potential are products like; “ready to eat fish, scombrotoxin-forming species (tuna, amberjack, anchovies, bluefish, etc.), stuffed seafood products, fish packed in vacuum packages, acidified and low acid canned foods, and raw (fresh or frozen) shellfish (Kvenburg, 2000 p. 387-401).” It makes sense for HACCP to determine these products to have a substantial risk potential since a lot of these food are canned, raw, potential for seals to be broken, and toxin forming. Products with those qualities have a better chance to have pathogens. HACCP also states that fish products not in those categories “are considered low risk (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” Fisheries have frequent visits from FDA investigators as is common for HACCP facilities. These FDA investigators go through a training process that involves “3-day course created by the Seafood HACCP alliance and a 2-day FDA regulatory training program with a final examination (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” These investigators observe fisheries in order to find areas where there are contamination or locations in the production that could use critical controls to prevent food contamination. One of the tools they have at their disposal during the inspection is, “the fish and fishery products hazards and controls guide (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401),” Which is useful for developing controls to fix contamination risk. While they are doing their inspection to see if there are any safety concerns they will take samples of the product. These samples are utilized by the inspectors to “determine if the final product has a likely chance of a defect appearing in the food and make decision about the controls used to make it that cannot be determined just by observation (Kvenburg, 2000, p. 387-401).” One area in particular that Fisheries and all HACCP represent organizations should consider using when developing critical controls is the air in the rooms the food is being processed. Air purifiers can help improve this, one type that is used in food processing facilities that is really good is “Photox, a purifier that can remove microbiological contaminants like viable Stachybotrys sp. And Bacillus sp. To a level that is safe under OSHA standards (“FDA manual for risk-based inspections and evaluation of voluntary food safety management systems”, 2006).” Fisheries have a lot in common with other facilities how they follow HACCP but have their products categorized in a way not a lot of places do.
Another food industry under HACCP that has a high potential for having pathogen contamination are vegetables. Vegetables have had a history of contamination with pathogens like Salmonella spp., Shigella spp., and even Escherichia coli o157:H7. The vegetable industry has had such a problem contamination that “The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked fresh produce the fourth highest cause for all food illness since 1990 (Varzkas, 2008).” With sanitation issues this bad the produce industry needed to try something that could make its product safer and make themselves look better to the public. Prior to the produce industry joining HACCP they had a document they followed called “Recommended Sanitary Guidelines for the Produce Processing Industry released in 1992 in order to create good manufacturing practices to ensure consistent quality (Varzkas, 2008).” This was a step in a good direction for the industry and the addition of HACCP helped to make it more secure. Produce follows the HACCP principles mentioned before with its aim towards prevention of contamination before it happens in areas like “production, storage, and transportation (Varzkas, 2008).” The process of keeping produce safe involves several steps using a process known as “Hurdle technology which involves a combination of suboptimal growth conditions that are useless used separately but when combined can effectively kill pathogens (Varzkas, 2008).” This Hurdle technology is not only used here but other parts of the food processing industry. The types of hurdles that the produce industry incorporates are things like “buying their produce from certified grower/packers, implementing comprehensive plant sanitation programs, using multiple antimicrobial agents in the wash water, and using modified atmosphere packaging techniques (MAP) (Varzkas, 2008).” Even if the HACCP’s prevention based mindset and Hurdle technology are not enough to stop some contamination “the implementation of HACCP will reduce loss from recalled products (Varzkas, 2008).” Which means you will be able to save more product and money with HACCAP than they were able to without it. The combination of the produce industry’s efforts to stay sanitary before HACCP, the incorporation of HACCP requirements and principles, and Hurdle technology have made produce safer than they were before and; when there are contamination problems they are prepared to fix the problem quickly.
HACCP is also incorporated into the fruit juice industry specifically here it’s orange juice. The microorganism Salmonella is responsible for “1.4 million illnesses and 400 deaths annually in the United States (Jain, 2009, p. 1065- 1071),” and orange juice can be a potential carrier of this pathogen. Orange juice is a company that follows HACCP procedures like any other company they have to follow requirements, principles, and take necessary steps to avoid contamination. When HACCP procedures are followed there tends be no contamination however, the following company decided to side track regulations and caused huge problems. The problem comes late in the processing “company x’s orange juice was not labeled as pasteurized or treated with another pathogen reducing process (Jain, 2009, p.1065-1071).” If their products really were not treated in any way this could lead to serious contamination. Investigators then went to test the juice at company X and found “the orange juice had come up positive for Escherichia coli the company did not switch methods of processing juice which violates HACCP and had poor procedures for equipment between fruit (Jain, 2009, p. 1065-1071).” Because their juice was untreated they were responsible for “152 cases of Salmonellosis in 23 states (Jain, 2009, p. 1065-1071).” This was not the first time a case like this has happened in the United States “in 1999 207 cases of Salmonella serotype were the cause of unpasteurized orange juice (Jain, 2009, 1065-1071).” This case was the reason that HACCP put in the control that you had to use some kind of pathogen limiting factor. The companies have to at least take measures that “produce 5log pathogen reduction of the number of pathogens (Jain, 2009, 1065-1071).” There are reasons these regulations are put into the HACCP plan and if a company decides to follow them as strictly this is what happens. Hopefully company x has taken what happened with their product and applied that to their future HACCP plan.
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HACCP is not just utilized in the United States. There are several countries that are just beginning to incorporate HACCP. There are plenty of reason why other countries would want to be a part of HACCP for benefits like “product safety, low levels of hazards in the food, extended shelf life, improve consumer confidence, lower complaint rate (Trafialek, 2015).” The EU has been trying to have all its processing plants apart of it however, there have been issues with establishing HACCP. Part of the problem is that “the tinier processing plants in the EU are just not able to implement HACCP as quick as larger plants (Trafialek, 2015).” Other complications were found in a Spanish catering company, “within 20 catering companies 70 percent of them had HACCP manuals but process was not running properly and only 40 percent of the companies had their employees trained in the principles of HACCP (Trafialek, 2015).” Similar problems to this have been seen in the Sultanate Oman where “the food handlers had a lack of knowledge of food safety concepts (Al-Busaidi, 2017).” Sultanate of Oman has had many other issues trying to run HACCP like “poor attitudes and understandings toward HACCP, lenient enforcement by officials, and lack of training along with no consulting organizations (Trafialek, 2015).” These countries seem to be having a rough transition into the program. What they need to work on in the future is finding a way better way to educate their employees about HACCP and explain why exactly it is important.
The Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) are used by many to prevent the contamination of pathogens in food. The HACCP program was created in 1959 when NASA was trying to create food that would not house pathogens during space flights. There are many steps requirements that are put under HACCP and at the heart of them their goal is to prevent food contamination at any point in the food process. HACCP mostly stays the same for all facilities except for how some products are classified or an issue occurs specifically in that sector that requires an amendment to the HACCP plan. HACCP also is moving its way into other countries, but it is still working out issues like making sure its employees are trained properly and spreading the program to smaller processing plants.
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