Why MSMEs in the food sector should implement HACCP

By Joselyn B. Mwine

Every person has the right to consume food that is safe and high quality. Hazards related to food safety are known as biological, chemical and physical hazards, which, if present in food, may cause injury or illness to the human being.

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are businesses whose size and revenue are below a certain threshold.

The strategic use of Standards can make a significant difference to the annual turnover of a MSME, sometimes the difference between success and failure. For MSMEs in the food sector, it is important that they demonstrate that the food or food products are fit for human consumption. One of the ways to demonstrate this is by implementing HACCP.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is defined as “a system, which identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety” (FAO). HACCP is a proactive concept. It helps to ensure that food is safe from harvest to consumption (‘from farm to fork’). Each step involved in food production, i.e. purchasing, receiving, storage, processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution up to the point of consumption is subjected to hazard analysis and necessary controls are introduced. The premise is simple: if each step of the process is carried out correctly, the end product will be safe.

The HACCP system consists of seven principles, which give an outline of how to establish, implement and maintain a HACCP plan.

Seven principles of the HACCP system

1. Conduct a hazard analysis

 

a.       Prepare a process flow diagram covering all steps from receipt of raw material to dispatch of finished product.

b.      Identify likely hazards at every process step.

c.       Describe the measures for control of hazards at each process step.

 

2. Determine the critical control points (CCPs)

 

a.       Analyse each step by using the decision tree.

b.      Identify the steps (points) where control is critical for assuring the safety of the product

 

3. Establish critical limits Fix critical limit for control measures relating to each identified CCP (e.g. temperature, time, speed, pH, moisture content)

 

4. Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP

 

Decide on monitoring procedure, which should cover the nature of monitoring (observation, testing), monitoring frequency and responsibility for monitoring and recording monitoring results.

 

5. Establish corrective action to be taken when monitoring results indicate that a particular CCP is not under control.

 

Develop procedures for dealing with the deviation from critical limits when it occurs and how to bring the CCP back into control, including disposing of the affected product produced during deviation.

 

6. Establish procedures for verification to confirm that the HACCP system is working effectively.

 

Develop procedures for verification to confirm that the HACCP plan is working (e.g. periodic audit, random sampling and analysis, review of the HACCP system and its records)

 

7. Establish documentation on all procedures and records appropriate to the HACCP principles and their application

 

Prepare and follow procedures and work instructions for each control measure, including those needed for maintaining hygiene conditions; keep records.

 

HACCP is not a stand-alone system. Good hygiene practices and other prerequisites for food processing as well as strong management commitment are also necessary. HACCP is not a substitute for these. If your company produces a variety of food products, you should develop a separate HACCP plan for each product, abiding by the seven principles outlined above.

Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) adopted the standard US ISO 22000:2018, Food safety management systems — Requirements for any organization in the food chain (2nd Edition) which incorporates HACCP principles.

Benefits of HACCP for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the food processing business

Standards help businesses of any size and sector reduce costs, increase productivity and access new markets.

For small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), standards can help to:

  • Build customer confidence that your products are safe and reliable
  • Meet regulation requirements, at a lower cost
  • Reduce costs across all aspects of your business
  • Gain market access across the world

The writer is a Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards