Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point is a system that was developed in the USA during the 1960’s to make sure that astronauts had safe food to eat on their space missions. It was essential that the food was safe as if an astronaut gets food poisoning it could lead to great problems when in space! It is used to make sure that risks in the food production process are identified and that control points are established to prevent the hazard from happening.

In food products a hazard is anything that is likely to cause harm or discomfort to the consumer of the product. These hazards could be:

  • BIOLOGICAL – an example of this could be salmonella in chicken.

  • CHEMICAL – a chemical hazard could be when cleaning materials somehow find their way into food products.

  • PHYSICAL – an example of this is when an object falls into food, like glass.

  • A risk in the food industry is the likelihood of a hazard occurring when making a food product. When making a product the follow four steps must be taken during every food production.
    1. Identify hazards, which could occur, and then assess whether or not the hazards are high, medium or low risk. This is know hazard analysis.

    2. Determine where these risks may be avoided – this is a step, which must be taken to prevent or reduce a food hazard. An example of a reason why this must be done would be to ensure that food reheated to a temperature of 70°C for two minutes to destroy any harmful bacteria. This is known as critical control.

    3. Decide what must be done to reduce the risk of these hazards and then allow limits of prevention so that safety is ensured. This is known as deciding tolerance levels.

    4. Where possible, include a corrective system in case of failure of controls.

    Careful records must be kept of all controls and corrective actions. Ongoing tests and checks must be carried out to make sure that the checks that are in place are working effectively. The system, which a work place uses maybe, defined as soft (relying on people making all the judgements) or hard (with computers making all of the decisions).

    Buying Foods.

    Hazards occur in the buying of raw ingredients, which are not safe, or of the quality required. To overcome this risk, most manufacturers work closely with suppliers, often specifying the quality and price of products. This may include buying genetically engineered foods to make sure of a standardised product. One example of genetically engineered food is a tomato engineered to give a constant pH value and flavour. Other examples include fruits, vegetables and yeasts. In addition, the selective breeding of animals will give a consistent meat product to meet the consumer demands – such as low fat meats.

    Transporting Foods.

    Food may be at risk during transportation. To ensure safety the lorries carrying food must be clean and, where necessary, they must also be refrigerated. The temperature of the food inside the lorry will be checked at the processing plant. If this exceeds safety levels, the food will not be accepted. Records are kept of the temperatures and dates of delivery of all products arriving at the plant.


    Raw materials must be kept in conditions, which ensure safety. Fresh foods will be stored in fridges and frozen products in freezers. These often have digital displays on the outside, showing the internal temperature. The temperature is checked and recorded frequently as part of the HACCP process. Liquid products, such as yoghurts and dry products such as flour maybe stored in hoppers or silos. The temperature or moisture content of the hoppers or silos will be controlled and checked frequently. It is sometimes necessary to stir materials during storage to prevent setting or separation.


    The hazards involved in processing include the food handlers themselves, and for this reason anyone involved in food handling must have hygiene training suitable for the tasks, which they will be carrying out. In food processing the temperature of the environment is lowered to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Each production line will have an entrance for raw food materials, which is separate from the exits used for prepared products. A system will be established which allows food to flow through without coming into contact with food items from earlier in the food processing. No backflow is ever permitted in the production process – an example is that washed vegetables would never be allowed to come into contact with vegetables, which have yet to washed.

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