About Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point

What Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is and why it is important to your organization.


Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an internationally recognized, science-based food safety system based on preventing, eliminating and reducing hazards. It is fundamentally different from an inspection-based system because it identifies and addresses hazards before they emerge.

A HACCP system includes prerequisite programs and HACCP plans. It is developed and implemented by the operator, who is also responsible to ensure it is maintained and remains effective in controlling all identified hazards. The operator must take full ownership of the system.

Prerequisite programs

Procedures and practices that provide the basic environmental and operational conditions necessary for the production of safe foods. They are the foundation of a HACCP system. Some examples are sanitation, recall, pest control, premises, transportation and storage, equipment, personnel training, supplier approval, and allergens.

HACCP plans

A HACCP plan is a written document that outlines the hazards associated with a product, incoming materials, ingredients and process steps and how they are controlled. It also identifies the processes that are critical to ensuring food safety. The HACCP plans determine critical control points in a specific operation, such as cooking to appropriate internal temperature.

HACCP can be applied throughout the food chain to any type of food and process. The principles of HACCP are related – the nature of the operation will determine the particular hazards and the procedures to address them.

HACCP certification

Formal recognition that a facility complies to specified HACCP requirements. Certification is provided by a licensed, third-party certifying agency.

Which HACCP system to use

There are several HACCP systems used by processors in Alberta and Canada. Selecting the appropriate system can be a difficult decision. Consider the following:

  • What are your customers asking you for?
  • Where are your customers located? Some systems are more common in certain countries or regions.
  • Which system is most suitable for your operation?
  • What are the costs, including audit costs, associated with the system?
  • Are auditors readily available and located locally?
  • What type of support is provided by the standard owner?

Global Food Safety Initiative

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was launched in 2000 to achieve harmonization of food safety standards to reduce audit duplication throughout the supply chain. GFSI benchmarks food standards against food safety criteria.

Current standards benchmarked by GFSI and commonly used by processors in Canada are:

  • British Retail Consortium
  • Safe Quality Food
  • Food Safety System Certification – 22000

GFSI standards require development and implementation of a HACCP system and have additional requirements beyond the HACCP system.

Implement a HACCP system

Effective implementation of HACCP involves a proactive food safety culture, management commitment, team work, personnel training, and a thorough understanding of the HACCP concepts.

Depending on the complexity of the operation, implementing a HACCP system involves time, people and resources. The Alberta government can provide you with information, advice and support.

Benefits of a HACCP system

The benefits of implementing a HACCP system include:

  • increased food safety
  • meet customer/retailer requirements
  • maintained or improved market access
  • it drives continuous improvement
  • best practices by staff constantly reinforced
  • ongoing efficient oversight
  • in some cases, HACCP is required by legislation
  • once implemented, reduced operational costs
  • reduced waste
  • reduced recalls
  • reduced liability, possibly reduced liability premiums
  • improved product quality and consistency
  • increased consumer confidence in food safety

Cost to implement

Costs vary greatly among facilities. Start-up costs are usually those associated with the planning, development and implementation of the HACCP system and do not recur. Generally, the more products and processes involved in an operation, the more complex the HACCP system will have to be. Consider:

  • number of allergens in your product
  • current state of your equipment/cleanable surfaces
  • required facility upgrades
  • current inventory of monitoring equipment
  • current level of employee food safety training
  • the number of risks introduced during your processing
  • the resources available to develop and maintain the system, such as a HACCP coordinator, or how much you can afford to spend on a consultant
  • whether your facility is eligible for funding

Recurring costs are those incurred from maintenance activities such as annual validation, training, record keeping, monitoring and updating. To keep the system effective and maintain certification recurring costs cannot be avoided.