Among the food safety programs used by today’s food companies, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is clearly the star of the show. As a systematic, science-based method for identifying and correcting microbiological, chemical and physical hazards that can exist within food manufacturing and handling operations, HACCP is universally recognized by industry as an essential element in assuring food safety. Its marquee status stems from the fact that the HACCP approach is proactive rather than reactive, emphasizing food hazard prevention rather than the detection of harmful defects in finished food products.
Jerry Roberts, Director of Quality, Worldwide Concentrate Operations with PepsiCo Beverages International, says, "There is no question that a HACCP program protects the trademarks and the equity of the food company. It is a matter of making sure that the foods the company puts into the public domain are safe and wholesome. And it is more than an insurance: Not to have the level of due diligence that HACCP provides is like walking into a building that appears to be a bank, depositing your money and then walking out. A company that does not have a sound HACCP program designed to reduce or eliminate hazards in its process increases the chance that adulterated foods will enter the public domain," he states.
The fact that HACCP has been widely adopted by companies manufacturing foods and beverages that do not fall within the purview of government mandates is another testament to the approach’s usefulness as a proven way to better ensure food safety. Meat, poultry, seafood and juice processing operations–food categories for which federal HACCP rules apply–have led the way in fine-tuning the model. Regulatory officials, citing recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics showing that foodborne illnesses associated with pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, listeria monocytogenes and salmonella have been dramatically reduced, link those reductions to the implementation of HACCP that began nearly a decade ago.
As the food industry refines the HACCP approach, incorporating innovative technologies and systematic management strategies, companies will realize both greater production efficiencies and assurance of safe and wholesome products.