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  14 September, 2021   |   Food Safety  |  

The importance of prerequisite programs to implement HACCP

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product. For the successful implementation of a HACCP plan, management must be strongly committed to the HACCP concept. A firm commitment to HACCP by top management provides company employees with a sense of the importance of producing safe food.


HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry from growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, and merchandising to preparing food for consumption. Prerequisite programs such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are an essential foundation for the development and implementation of successful HACCP plans. Food safety systems based on the HACCP principles have been successfully applied in food processing plants, retail food stores, and food service operations. The seven principles of HACCP have been universally accepted by government agencies, trade associations and the food industry around the world.



Prerequisite Programs


The production of safe food products requires that the HACCP system to be built upon a solid foundation of prerequisite programs. Each segment of the food industry must provide the conditions necessary to protect food while it is under their control. This has traditionally been accomplished through the application of GMPs. These conditions and practices are now considered to be prerequisite to the development and implementation of effective HACCP plans.


Prerequisite programs provide the basic environmental and operating conditions that are necessary to produce safe, wholesome food. Many of the conditions and practices are specified in federal, state, and local regulations and guidelines (e.g., GMPs and Food Code). The Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene describe the basic conditions and practices expected for foods intended for international trade. In addition to the requirements specified in the regulations, the industry often adopts policies and procedures that are specific to their operations. Many of these are proprietary. While prerequisite programs may impact upon the safety of a food, they also are concerned with ensuring that foods are wholesome and suitable for consumption. HACCP plans are narrower in scope, being limited to ensuring food is safe to consume.


The existence and effectiveness of prerequisite programs should be assessed during the design and implementation of each HACCP plan. All prerequisite programs should be documented and regularly audited. Prerequisite programs are established and managed separately from the HACCP plan. Certain aspects, however, of a prerequisite program may be incorporated into a HACCP plan. For example, many establishments have preventive maintenance procedures for processing equipment to avoid unexpected equipment failure and loss of production. During the development of a HACCP plan, the HACCP team may decide that the routine maintenance and calibration of an oven should be included in the plan as an activity of verification. This would further ensure that all the food in the oven is cooked to the minimum internal temperature that is necessary for food safety.


For a successful HACCP program to be properly implemented, management must be committed to a HACCP approach. A commitment by management will indicate an awareness of the benefits and costs of HACCP and include education and training of employees. Benefits, in addition to enhanced assurance of food safety, are better use of resources and timely response to problems. Before developing and implementing an effective HACCP plan, prerequisites and training need to be established first.


Many of the conditions and practices are specified in federal and provincial regulations and guidelines. All prerequisite programs should be documented and regularly audited and are established and maintained separately from the HACCP plan.




Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2017, December 19). HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/hazard-analysis-critical-control-point-haccp/haccp-principles-application-guidelines

Scott, V. N., & Stevenson, K. E., PhD. (2006). HACCP, a Systematic Approach to Food Safety (4th ed.). FPA Food Products Association.