HACCP Basics

As food moves through a foodservice operation, it is important to be able to spot potential hazards. By using a time-tested system called HACCP, the flow of food can be monitored. The flow of food is the path food takes from when it is received by an establishment to when it is disposed of as waste. Along this path, any hazards can be controlled and risks lowered.

Local health departments regularly inspect foodservice establishments. Your workplace should also inspect the kitchen to keep conditions sanitary. HACCP, or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, is the system used to keep food safe on its journey from the kitchen to the table. HACCP shows workers how to properly handle food, how to monitor food safety, and how to keep accurate records.

The HACCP system was developed by the Pillsbury Company for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the early 1960s. The system was originally created to keep food safe in outer space. The HACCP system worked so well that it was used by many parts of the food industry. Over the years, HACCP has been improved, or made better. HACCP is now a standard food safety system used worldwide. The HACCP system looks at the flow of food through the foodservice establishment at several critical points. It helps foodservice employees:

• Identify foods and procedures that are likely to cause foodborne illness.

• Develop cleaning and sanitation procedures that will reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

• Monitor procedures to keep food safe.

• Keep records of how well the system works. (See Figure 2.1.)

Take corrective action. For example, if a food does not meet an internal temperature standard, you may decide to change the cooking time.


Evaluate your procedures regularly. You may need to modify your procedures to keep food safe.

Develop a record-keeping system that identifies:

• Who documents the procedures.

• How documentation should be performed.

• When documentation should be performed.

frFIGURE2.ll The HACCP System

Safety System The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system creates a structure to help ensure food safety. Why do you think having a structure is important?

Determine where food safety hazards might happen. For example, you might start by listing the areas and equipment that food comes in contact with while it is in the kitchen.

Find the critical control points where contamination could happen.

illlllllllllllllllllillllllllllll Set standards that are necessary for food to be considered safe. For example, set temperature limits for foods to be safe in storage areas.

Create a procedure to monitor the standards. For example, you might use a thermometer to check the temperatures of all foods and keep a record of these temperatures.

.y FIGURE 2.2 HACCP Analysis—The Flow of Food

Handling Hazards These critical control points show the steps in the flow of food where contamination can happen. Whose responsibility is it to make sure that these control points are monitored?

Potential Hazard

Control Point

Corrective Action

Identifying hazardous items; improper food preparation

Menu items and recipes

Proper training

Receipt and acceptance of contaminated food products


Inspect each delivery; reject contaminated goods

Cross-contamination; improper storage resulting in spoilage; bacteria


Follow storing procedures; maintain proper storage temperatures; discard old items

Cross-contamination; bacteria

Food preparation

Good personal hygiene; gloves; hand-washing; clean and sanitize utensils and work surfaces

Bacteria not killed; physical and chemical contaminants


Achieve the minimum internal temperature; be aware of potentially hazardous foods, such as raw meats and eggs

Bacteria; physical contaminants

Food holding and serving

Maintain proper temperatures; use clean serving equipment



Apply rapid cooling methods; store food properly



Heat food rapidly; do not mix old food with new food

Food-Handling Hazards

The first step of the HACCP system is to identify and evaluate hazards. These hazards could cause illness or injury if they are not controlled. The most frequently found hazards include:

• Poor personal hygiene

• Contaminated raw foods

• Cross-contamination

• Improper cooking

• Improper holding

• Improper cooling

• Improper reheating

• Improper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment

Any of these hazards can lead to an outbreak of foodborne illness at a foodservice establishment. Because of this, it is critical that all foodservice workers follow the established HACCP system.

Critical Control Points

The next step in the HACCP system is to carefully look at each critical control point. (Figure 2.2 and Figure 2.3 show the critical control points, and how a HACCP kitchen is set up.) A critical control point is a step in the flow of food where contamination can be prevented, reduced, or eliminated. For example, harmful bacteria and other microorganisms can grow in improperly cooked food. Microorganisms may survive cooking and contaminate the food. This could make diners very sick.

Cool Food Safely Cooling food must be done safely. If food is cooled improperly, harmful bacteria can grow. Cooling food quickly prevents bacterial growth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food that was not cooled properly is the most common cause of all reported foodborne illnesses.

This is one technique you can use to cool food safely:

1. Place food in a shallow pan.

2. Place the pan of food into a large pan filled with ice. Do not stack more than one pan of food on top of the large pan of ice.

3. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food often. Foods that have an internal temperature of 135°F (57°C) should drop to 70°F (21°C) within two hours and to 41°F (5°C) or below within four hours. Add ice as needed.

4. When the chilled temperature has been reached, remove the pan of food from the pan of ice. Dry the bottom of the pan of food and place a lid on it.

5. Label the pan of food with the date the food was prepared and its temperature at the time of storage.

6. Place the pan on the top shelf of the refrigerator.

Hazard Control After you have identified the critical control points, it is important to take steps to lower risks. For example, temperature and time are two important measurements that impact food safety. The HACCP system has standards for the temperatures of cooked foods.

The high temperatures you use when you cook food kill most of the food's harmful bacteria. The minimum internal temperature is the lowest temperature at which foods can be safely cooked. Microorganisms cannot be destroyed below this temperature. The minimum internal temperature is different from food to food. It is important to learn the correct temperature for each food you prepare. (See Figure 2.4 on page 34.)

Temperature Danger Zone The temperature danger zone for holding foods is 41°F to 135°F (5°C to 57°C). (See Figure 2.5 on page 34.) Hot foods must be thrown away after four hours if they are not held at 135°F (57°C) or above. If the temperature of food being held at 135°F (57°C) or above falls below 135°F (57°C), it should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C). If the temperature drops below 135°F (57°C) again, the food should be discarded.

f JFIGURE 2.3 HACCP Kitchen Design

Control Points Each part of a foodservice establishment should be considered when you create an HACCP system. What type of precautions would you put in place for the receiving area of this facility?



Refuse Storage

0 Baking Area


Rooms &



Rooms &


Refuse Storage

0 Baking Area





1 1 0

oo oo


I I Handwashing Sink £

Salad Prep

Cooking Area

I I Handwashing Sink £


Rooms &



Rooms &


Dishwashing Area

Rest Room

Dining Room

Rest Room

a) FIGURE 2.5 Food Danger Zone

Safe Food Temperatures The temperature danger zone for food is 41°F to 135°F (5°C to 57°C). What should you do with food that has been in the danger zone for more than four hours?

Food Thermometers There are many different types of food thermometers available. A food thermometer is a device used to check the temperatures of foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests these types for cooking:

• Liquid-filled thermometers are best used for casseroles and soups. They can break. They cannot measure thin foods.

• Bimetal thermometers are best used for roasts, casseroles, and soups. Some are safe to use in the oven, and some are not. They do not measure thin foods well.

• Thermistor thermometers are best used for foods such as hamburger patties and pork chops. They can measure the temperature of thin foods.

• Thermocouple thermometers are best used for foods hamburger patties and pork chops. They take readings very quickly, and can easily measure thin foods.

• Infrared thermometers can measure temperature quickly and accurately.

To measure the internal temperature of cooked food, place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food. Take at least two readings in different places. Do not place

[M FIGURE 2.4 Safe Internal Cooking Temperatures

Internal Temperatures Foods must be kept at specific internal temperatures to be considered fully cooked and safe to eat. Why is it important for foods to be kept at a minimum internal temperature for a specific amount of time?

Food Item



Pork, ham, bacon

145°F (63°C)

15 seconds

Poultry, stuffed meats and pasta, casseroles, stuffings

165°F (74°C)

15 seconds

Roasts (beef and pork)

145°F (63°C)

4 minutes

Hamburger, ground pork, sausages, flaked fish

155°F (68°C)

15 seconds

Steaks, veal, lamb

145°F (63°C)

15 seconds


145°F (63°C)

15 seconds


145°F (63°C)

15 seconds

the thermometer too close to bone. Bone conducts heat quickly. This may give you a false temperature reading. Use thermometers to check the temperature of delivered foods, too. Fresh foods should be received at a temperature of 41°F (5°C) or below. Thermometers should be accurate to within 2 degrees.

Thoroughly clean, sanitize, and air dry the thermometer after each use. This will help you avoid cross-contamination. Thermometers should be calibrated ('ka-ls-brat-sd) before each work shift or each food delivery. To calibrate a thermometer, you adjust it for accuracy. A thermometer should be recalibrated every day, and again if it is dropped.

the temperatures in the temperature danger zone, and the time limit for food?

Continue reading here: System Monitoring

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