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HACCP (Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points)
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is basically a food safety management system that focuses on a proactive approach to hazard prevention rather than inspection of finished products. HACCP deals with all biological, chemical and physical hazards related to food safety. HACCP is successfully used in the food and pharmaceutical industries to identify potential safety hazards and take key actions to eliminate or reduce the risks caused by them. The HACCP system can be used at different stages of production and processing to ensure food safety and public health protection.
The concept of HACCP originated in the 1960s when Pillsbury designed and produced space flight food for NASA – the first venture of its kind. After that, the concept was internationally recognized, and traditional inspection methods were replaced by a science-based food safety management system. HACCP plans have so far helped both governments and the food industry to effectively deploy their resources in establishing safe food production practices and providing effective food audits. Legislation places the responsibility of making food safe on food service operators, and HACCP software is designed to help operators achieve this. HACCP system certificates are offered by only a few commercial bodies. The concept of HACCP is still almost untouched in developing countries due to lack of knowledge and proper approach.
The HACCP food management system is not an independent program in itself. It is built on some prerequisite programs such as SSOP (Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). Therefore, the effectiveness and efficiency of HACCP depends on both GMP and SSOP. Therefore, food business entities that have weak GMP and SSOP often face food safety issues, and if these issues are not addressed properly, they can result in serious consequences for public health.
Principles behind HACCP
HACCP is outlined with seven basic principles necessary to maintain hygiene standards.
1. Hazard Analysis: Identification of potential hazards including biological, chemical and physical.
2. Identification of critical control points: Determining the point at which hazards may occur, causing harm to the consumer.
3. Establishing critical limits: Setting parameters for control points to identify any activity that is out of control.
4. Implementation of monitoring system: To monitor critical control points.
5. Establishing Corrective Actions: Defining the corrective actions to be taken when any critical control point parameter is violated.
6. Establishing verification procedures: To verify that the above 5 points are working effectively.
7. Establishing reporting procedures: These reports will be a kind of evidence that the system is working effectively.
HACCP and food safety
Since the emergence of strict laws related to food safety, HACCP certification and programs are ongoing. The options available in the market for food business operators to comply with food safety regulations have increased manifold with awareness in the industry. E-Control Systems, Inc., recently launched IntelliHACCP, a wireless solution specifically for HACCP compliance giving food industry operators some freedom to manage their food safety standards through a single platform. Q22, launched by HiQ Software Consulting Inc, of Kitchener, Ontario, was also an innovative product for HACCP compliance and the rigorous standards of ISO 22000. HACCPNow, doHACCP Norback, Ley and Associates LLC, etc. were also leading implementation software of HACCP. But it’s not all about choosing the best HACCP compliance software; Apart from these researchers working on different aspects of HACCP have identified three obstacles that hinder the successful implementation of HACCP. These are the knowledge barrier, the attitude barrier and the behavioral barrier.
Knowledge barriers refer to a clear understanding of the program, attitudinal barriers refer to differing agreement with the principles and actions of the adopted program, and finally behavioral barriers refer to money, time and other resources. Although companies have worked hard to overcome these obstacles, only a few are successful in solving these problems. IntelliHACCP basically suffers from the first hurdle because knowledge of the program is a limiting factor. HiQ Q22 tried to keep all barriers level during the design. The program is simple but full of features and covers all seven principles of HACCP. These programs have made HACCP compliance very easy for food industry operators. These programs can help implement HACCP in companies that need HACCP certification in simple steps; all that is required after that is training, which is readily offered by various service providers.
Not only that, these HACCP programs have proven to be very helpful in maintaining and keeping records. Q22, for example, offers data management, document management and data analysis features. Document management refers to keeping track of documents, old, new, rejected or approved. All documents are systematically stored in one central place and are available for review. In addition, the program provides visibility along with a reliable and controlled audit trail. These programs also provide customizable and customized data management for recorded data. Data analysis, a kind of business intelligence, is done using a reporting module that is designed as an open concept and has the ability to add new templates, as required. Adaptability to any company structure was a significant feature of these programs. Critical Control Points (CCPs) are determined by the Process Flow Form plotting module which allows for automatic data entry. This automation helps significantly reduce configuration time.
The main concept behind HACCP is to prevent any hazardous product from leaving the processing unit or manufacturing facility. The keys to HACCP success are employee training, attitude and behavior. There is still a prevailing misconception that a successful HACCP plan is only about controlling the areas where safety can be involved. However, controlling certain areas will not be an effective approach in the long run. HACCP manages the entire process as a single system and thus provides better and more efficient results. HACCP has been found to produce better results when used in tandem with other control systems. Total quality management systems and standard operating procedures can be used in addition to HACCP to improve food safety and quality.
Vedran Hasanagić, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
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