The acronym HACCP is pronounced “hassip” and stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has adopted this food safety program, developed nearly 30 years ago for astronauts and first applied to seafood. HACCPs for meat and poultry processing plants, as well as fruit and vegetable juices, have also been established. The FDA is considering developing regulations that would establish HACCP as the food safety standard throughout other areas of the food industry, including both domestic and imported food products.
That brings us to honey. Fortunately, the sweet is forgiving to process, pack and sell. However, there is increasing concern about using it in other products, something the National Honey Board has been promoting for a long time. In fact HACCP is already part of the National Honey Board’s program. It is based on seven principles:
Do a hazard analysis – Identify and list the food safety hazards that could occur in the production process and the preventative measures necessary to control the hazards.
Identify Critical Control Points (CCP) – Points of procedure at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced.
Set critical limits – Establish critical limits (a minimum and maximum allowable level) for preventive measures associated with each CCP.
Monitor – Observations or measurements to determine whether a CCP is within established limits.
Take corrective actions where appropriate – A corrective action procedure must be part of the HACCP when monitoring indicates a deviation from a critical limit.
Keep good records – Consistent, reliable records should be generated and available for review.
Regularly examine your plan – HACCP must be verified periodically to see if systems are in compliance with the original plan and if modification is necessary.
Tools needed to develop a HACCP plan include:
A list of good manufacturing processes.
Sanitation standard operating procedures
Product identification, tracking and recall procedures.
The key is to have a well-thought-out plan and to put it into place slowly but surely. Trying to do everything at once can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Begin with one line or area, be flexible, and be able to modify your plan according to specific needs.
Dr. Gary Fairchild at the University of Florida, who prepared a report on honey adulteration for the National Honey Board. A follow-up of that study, published in American Bee Journal (Vol. 140, No. 2, February) pp. 144-146, is titled: “Why a Quality Assurance Program?”
Dr. Fairchild is quoted in this article as saying: “Increasingly consumers want to know more about the history of their food. Their desire for information includes genetic material, chemical inputs, handling and storage, manufacturing processes, and environmental inputs. Sooner or later significant numbers of consumers will want to know the background of their honey. Mandatory HACCP systems for raw ingredients are coming in the near future and eco-labels that certify the impact of production, processing, handling and marketing systems on the environment are becoming increasingly important to selected consumer segments in many markets. The generalization can easily be made that food and food-ingredient markets will witness increased monitoring of production, processing, and marketing activities in the future. There are implications for the honey industry, which should be viewed as being consistent with a quality assurance program.”
A recent program called “True Source Honey,” is being implemented across the country, geared toward certifying source of honey. Transshipment of honey continues to be problematic both from a customs standpoint and economic adulteration. Though not specifically a HACCP application, this lends itself well to the tenor of the technology.
HACCP standards are implemented in Europe in a major way. The Swiss self control example is a simple system that ensures good quality bee products based on the HAACP model.