Which Food Safety Plan Should I have?

Food thermometer in orange juice.
Measuring temperature is an important food safety process.

So you have a food product that you’ve made that people LOVE and are demanding that you take their money for it. You’re having fun in the kitchen and designing labels and suddenly you are told that if you want to sell your product you need a HACCP plan. You look online and you talk to people you know who work in the food industry and you are told, you don’t need a HACCP plan, you need a FSMA food safety plan. All these food safety acronyms: HACCP, FSMA, GMPS, SOPS, CCPs. PCs, FDA, USDA. I once challenged my undergraduate students to list as many acronyms to do with food safety as they could. My best student listed 72!

As a food start-up, where do you start?

You have so much to worry about; how can you understand what is meant by a HACCP plan or by a prerequisite program around GMPS. You want to make the best quality food product you can and of course that includes safety as well as flavor, texture, packaging etc. But…

So you’ve been asked for your HACCP or food safety plan and don’t know what that means. Sometimes you need a food safety plan/HACCP to get through your inspection. Or perhaps a wholesale customer has asked what you do for safety and someone mentioned the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA; pronounced Fizma) because your product doesn’t contain meat.

So what’s the difference and, more importantly, which one do you need?

Both HACCP and Food Safety Plans use scientific information to investigate what the hazards of your product are and how they can be controlled.

A picture of a man in blue and white shirt writing something in a notebook. A laptop computer is open next to him.
Research into hazards is a necessary part of food safety.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Both consider three types of hazard: biological, chemical and physical. Chemical hazards typically includes allergens and radiological hazards.

Both plans expect you to have foundational programs in sanitation and other stuff that come under the guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practices also known as prerequisite programs.

Both programs expect that you will monitor the steps that remove the hazards. FSMA food safety plans also expect you to list and monitor steps that reduce or control hazards. So there is one difference.

FSMA food safety plans also require you to have a recall plan, and permit you to control your hazards through sanitation controls or supply chain controls. These aren’t part of a HACCP plan.

So which plan do you need?

For Federal regulations there are three situations that you are required to have a HACCP plan:

  1. If you make a product containing meat or poultry which is inspected by USDA;
  2. if you make a juice; and
  3. if you make a product containing seafood.

All other products, which come under FDA jurisdiction, require a food safety plan.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and the principles surrounding HACCP have been around since 1960s. FDA expanded on these principles when they wrote FSMA regulations. So if you have a HACCP plan, it can be part of your FSMA Food Safety Plan.

Whether you follow a HACCP plan and have critical control points or if you follow an FDA food safety plan with preventive controls, the end point is the same: making your product safer for your consumer. Both HACCP plans and Food Safety plans are food safety management tools.

In a later post, I will discuss more about what goes into writing of both plans. In the meantime if If you are still reading and aware that you need to get started on your food safety plan ASAP (ooh another acronym) click here to schedule a time to speak with me. The first call is free!!!

Bibliography

https://www.foodqualityandsafety.com/article/the-evolution-of-haccp/

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/haccp

https://www.foodonline.com/doc/the-abc-s-of-building-a-food-safety-plan-from-haccp-to-harpc-0001#

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