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From: Food Quality & Safety magazine, February/March 2006

What HACCP can Mean to Sanitation

HACCP has been at the forefront, and there are new requirements that are rapidly developing, including the Codex and ISO 9000

by Henry C. Carsberg, P.S.

HACCP has been at the forefront for some time now, and there are new requirements that are rapidly developing, including the Codex and ISO 9000. These will be the next chapters in food safety requirements. If you are one of those who feel that HACCP means Have a Cup of Coffee and Pray, you obviously have not integrated your food safety program into the area of sanitation.

Having a HACCP plan is not just a mandatory thing, but it makes good science and good sense. There’s no point in investing so much time and effort in buying and processing product only to have a recall and lose all the profits. So then, why limit the HACCP plan to just QA and food safety? Why not encompass and wrap the entire HACCP plan into sanitation and make a total food safety program from entry point to beyond the shipping department by including how the plant will be cleaned and sanitized?

I feel that with the experience I have gained over the many years that I have been involved in food safety/sanitation I can provide you with some interesting ideas why.

How do you go about designing and implementing sanitation HACCP? Here are some basics: Locate the CCPs and examine the equipment involved in the CCP. Do a SHAWP study (Sanitation Hazard Analysis Work Point) there and determine where the CCP would be in that equipment that can cause a problem. Do this to all the equipment at every CCP, and then examine what other equipment could contribute to a health hazard.

Management will sometimes say, “Since we have never had a problem there is no need to do this.” So, why don’t they cancel their car and homeowners insurance if they have not had an accident? Management, in some cases, just does not think of sanitation as a profit center. It does not invest in sanitation staff and management does not provide a sanitation staff with the equipment they need to do the job efficiently. You cannot rise any higher than your leadership. Without their support, you are swimming up stream. When management values and supports sanitation, incorporating it into the food safety program, turnover is minimized and plants are consistently clean. Then there’s the other extreme where management considers sanitation an unfortunate necessity, and tells me they have a revolving door of sanitation personnel. When asked why, they don’t have an answer.

The effort to develop a sanitation HACCP, if properly funded, will be realized in improved attitudes and increased self-worth when all plant personnel are taking part in this program realize that management is serious about preventing recalls by insisting all employees will take part in HACCP and food safety.

Costs: It seems to me that everything in the food business is related to cost. Everything costs too much. Budgets are implemented to manage costs. Yes, we need budgets to limit our spending, but why not have a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis. Instead of just looking for ways to cut costs, why not show what we are getting in return for the money we have invested in our food safety/sanitation program? What is the ROI on a HACCP plan, a SHAWP plan, training, chemicals, labor, efficiency and safety, etc.? Instead of looking at sanitation as a hole in the ground that one pours money into and no one can figure out why, change the paradigm of what food safety/sanitation is and see how it can work as a profit center.

Time is important. Time is money. How much time wills this cost me? How much time will be taken from me to give to someone or something else? But time can also be an investment, and there is always an ROI for time. It can be negative in the form inefficiency and loss of money or it can be a positive, a return in terms of money saved, labor efficiency, cost of chemicals or a better relationship with employees that will instill the team effort to have a better quality product processed in a clean and safe environment.

Training: What an opportunity to add to your food safety/sanitation effort than to use a HACCP sanitation plan with a SHAWP plan to add to your training regime. Once this system is complete, you will have an in house tool to train your staff from the basics of sanitation to the latest in sophisticated programs, on all your equipment, and plant environment, which by the way, can exceed the GMPs, customer requirements and specs, not to mention any regulatory inspections.

If you want to get serious about your food safety/sanitation program, and implement a HACCP/SHAWP plan for your sanitation crew, I have provided some ideas on how it can be done, and if it is followed through, you will have a food safety/sanitation program that will be “ABOVE THE BEST.”

Please e-mail me with any questions or comments at abovethebest@comcast.net or my Web site at henrycarsberg.com.

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