Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) system of monitoring levels of food safety present from the beginning of the production of various foodstuffs and overseeing the procedures put in place to help ensure safe foods. These programs include monitoring systems for dairy products, seafood, and juices. Also included in HACCP and food safety are methods for managing and overseeing retail food production and the food service industry.
Since HACCP is an internationally accepted system for monitoring food safety requirements, the protocols that it enforces are satisfactory for foodstuffs exported from the U.S. to many different countries. Included in the list of items monitored by the FDA's HACCP and food safety system is the management of chemicals used on the raw materials of production, the physical processes of manufacturing, and distribution processes. The system also determines the correct way of handling the food at every step, from raw materials to finished product, in order to make sure that food is safe for consumption.
Within the standards of HACCP and food safety, there are also a number of training programs designed for individuals involved in every step of manufacturing and processing food. Not only are the employees of companies that deal in food made aware of the importance of what they are doing, but they also can come to understand other steps in food production. Managers and owners of food-producing companies have been made responsible for overseeing the education of their employees, and are in turn responsible for the implementation of these guidelines.
In the seafood industry, HACCP and food safety guidelines regulate processes from how freshly caught fish must be stored to how seafood of all kinds must be refrigerated or frozen before it is shipped to restaurants. This helps ensure that the raw materials purchased in grocery stores and by restaurants meets food safety standards that make it safe for human consumption. Similarly, dairy products are also regulated and guidelines are set for how they should be stored and pasteurized to help ensure that biological microbes and other dangers have been removed from the products before shipment to consumers.
Part of abiding by HACCP and food safety procedures is for companies to examine the steps and processes that their products go through, and to determine whether or not there are any hazards that the raw materials or foods pass through; this is also known as hazard analysis. These hazards can be a chemical agent, physical processes that may not keep the food fresh, or biological dangers such as bacterial contamination. The critical control points in the name of the system refer to instances in the manufacturing process where procedures can be put in place to regulate and help ensure the continued safety of food products.