Funny you should bring this up -- I just got my NYC Health Dept. Food Protection certification week before last, so my manual and notes are handy!
For those not familiar with it, HACCP is a system originally developed by Pillsbury for the U.S. space program, to ensure a supply of safe food for astronauts. It is an acronym: Hazard: any condition in which food can be contaminated Analysis: likely problems are identified and their prevention determined Critical Control Point: this is a step in which action must be taken to eliminate a hazard. Failure to do so will render the food unfit for consumption.
To quote the training manual we used:
----------------------------------- The HACCP system as decribed by the International Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians has a series of six inter-related steps:
Identify hazards and assess their severity and risks. The first step in this system is to review recipes to identify potentially hazardous foods or food containing potentially hazardous ingredients, set out the preparation process in a flow chart and identify the hazards that can occur at each step in the process.
Determine Critical Control Points. The second step is to identify the critical control points, that is, those steps where action MUST be taken to prevent, reduce, or eliminate a hazard.
Institute control measures and establish criteria to ensure control. The third step is to determine the measures or the actions that are needed to prevent, reduce or eliminate hazards that are anticipated.
Monitor critical control points and record data. The fourth step is to monitor what is being done at each critical control point to determine whether the hazards are controlled by the actions set up in the third step.
Take action whenever monitoring results indicate criteria are not met. The fifth step is to put in place immediate corrective action if the hazards are not controlled at the critical control points.
Verify that the system is working as planned. The sixth and last step is to review the system to ensure that it is working, that hazards are identified, corrective actions are taken and that a safe food product is produced.
------------------- Note: the manual for ServSafe inserts another step between taking action (#5 above) and verification (#6): Setting up a record-keeping system, to keep information (temperature of food, etc.) of importance in the process.
The "Food-Flow Diagram" breaks down every step from receiving to storage to preparation to cooking to hot holding (same day service), and cooling, storage, and reheating of leftovers, if done. The possible hazards at each of those steps are identified. If it is a step at which action must be taken to eliminate the hazard, it is flagged as a critical control point. Then the criteria for control at that step are determined, along with the monitoring procedure and the corrective action to be taken if the criteria are not met.
It is possible to write production recipes with the specific criteria built in. That way there is no question about how to avoid or correct problems.
As for using it at work ... you'll have to ask someone with a regular job!
Although I'm not yet working, we did have a Sanitation class this past semester the central theme of which was HACCP. We are taught and run our restaurant based on the general HACCP principles.
In class we discussed in great depth some of what's involved. While the basic ideas and principles are certainly somethign to be strived for...the challenges come in the documentation required. For every dish served there must be on file the standard recipe outlining all the CCP's and the steps to be taken. We were given copies of some of these from local institutions...I have a clam chowder one that runs 20pp! Anything served...so this means each evening's specials.
Record keeping is complex....for instance holding temperatures must be taken and recorded each hour. Records to be kept for two years.
Apparently here in our county we are only a couple years away from mandatory HACCP compliance. Inspections have recently changed in the first step toward this. Many of the small restaurant owners are very concerned about the costs involved....not about the health standards and food handling procedures but the administration costs involved.
Seems like a tough dilemma...how to ensure compliance while not running everyone out of business....
In any case, it was quite an interesting class. Certainly no one can argue with the general principles involved.
In the corporate world, HACCP is the BIBLE! Our integrated food safety program starts when the product comes in the door. Actually, it goes back to investigating the vendors and their storage facilities. We track products from proper storage (cold items refrigerated within 40 minutes of arrival) to rotation (EVERY item is labeled with date of arrival, incuding #10 cans) to production (by the book, including handling techniques, correct tools, etc.!) to discarding of leftovers and every step in between.
Food safety is paramount, not only in corporate food service, but everywhere. It is a legal and ethical responsibility to implement a food safety program and HACCP, although sometimes cumbersome, works. A well-educated staff grounded in HACCP and active supervision is a successful combination of keeping customers alive.
And, yes, it is time consuming, but tied to production records, it can be part of a routine without dragging everybody down, in my experience.
In the NYC Health Dept. course I just took, we were warned that sometime in the near future HACCP would be phased into inspections. The first step for restaurants would be the analysis and identification of CCPs. Inspectors would have their inspections on a hand-held computer, using HACCP principles. No clue how long it would take to introduce a full-blown system. Probably not in my lifetime But it's great if it really will be followed.
At least this is one thing the NRA cannot possibly lobby against!
I will fight HACCP becoming mandatory tooth and nail!! I have a big problem with the government imposing more and more regulations on the private sector. I am not against the general principle of the HACCP programs, per se, though I do find all the documentation to be quite burdensome, and redundant. My problem lies with the goverment wanting more and more say about how we should run our businesses, and our lives. Every restaurant I have ever worked in has always been very concious of the rules of food safety, and I take offense at the government saying that I am not being careful enough, so they must step in and make sure I do my job properly. Health inspections are one thing. I understand the need for them, though I do wonder just how stupid and uneducated about food one must be before one is rejected from being a health inspector. Besides, just think about how many foods you prepare and serve that do not meet the "HACCP" guidelines. Things such as butter sauces, hollandaise, rare & MR meats, serving butter that is spreadable, making of creme fraiche. These are just a few of the things that become even more difficult to serve with a HACCP program in place. Yes, I do understand that there are chefs and restauranteurs out there that break the rules all the time, and the public should be made aware of these places. So use the HACCP program for these people who fail or score low on health inspections as a way of righting their wrongs, but please, keep the government out of my business as much as possible!!!
Sorry for the rant, but I am a firm believer that once you let the government in, they just slowly chip away at our freedoms, all in the name of saving us from ourselves.
Sorry Pete, we're HAACP'd already in one way or another whether we like it or not. I firmly believe that the public outcry for more regulation is due to the overcommercialization of the restaurant industry. For example, think about what that piece of chicken you eat at Applebee's or some equally bad chain restaurant has to go through before you bite into it.
First, the chicken is raised in a cage. If it's lucky it has enough room to maybe stretch its legs. It smells real bad in that cage because the feces are flushed off the floor about only once a year. It's fed a steady diet of antibiotics to ensure it stays alive until it gets big enough. Then it goes to the slaughterhouse with a million other chickens, then off to the processing plant where machines hack it up into parts. Off again to a central warehouse where the breasts go to the (maybe) an Applebee's processing plant and who knows where the rest go.
The plant is basically a big huge production kitchen where no one knows about cooking and where every minute of downtime means mega $$$. The breasts are put on a wire conveyer underneath an infrared wire where they are marked. Then they go into some kind of cooking device, often a steam oven and then flash frozen. These are then packaged and shipped to the commisary or distribution center, a big walk in freezer or refrigerator.
It goes from this big walk in, onto a truck, to an Applebees, and then sits on the dock for a bit until it goes into a smaller walkin. You know what goes on here right? The truck comes in at 7am, dumps the stuff on the dock and some guy signs the invoice without making sure everything's there. He's heard the manager say that everything needs to go in the walkin quickly so he just dumps everything in there and doesn't care to rotate the produce. There's a case of who knows what from months ago sitting on a shelf but nobody cares. It turns out that it's ground beef, and it's dripping on the chicken.
So what happens with this frozen precooked marked chicken breast? (it's happened to all of us) It's 1 o'clock in the afternoon and it's graduation weekend. Parents are allover campus and people are still ordering chicken breast. The KM yells over to the DMO to go pull the breast out of the freezer and start quick thawing it. The DMO dumps the chicken in the vegetable sink. No big deal right? After all, the chicken is cooked right? Yeah right...
Day after, kitchen is a mess and it starts allover again. Morning prep cook comes in and tosses a case of lettuce in the same vegetable sink. The sink hasn't been been cleaned so it has blood from two month old ground beef in it. Ah so what, prep cook doesn't see it so there's a good excuse.
Anyway... that's an extreme example, but all too real. Contrast this with what used to happen in America just 15 years ago.
Me: Chef, chicken's here
Chef: La merde! It's 9:30! Make sure they're all there and nice and fresh, then cut out the breasts and legs, we still have time to start the stock.
These scenarios are very true, but do you really think that more legislation and regulation will change that? No! To people like that, these rules are just another thing they have to fudge. How hard is it to go back and post date cooler log entries? Just because the system has been put in place, doesn't mean that it will be followed. Education, not regulation is the key. I am sorry, but I truely believe that the institution of HACCP just brings the government one step closer to regulating how we eat. State governments have already tried it. I do not want anyone telling me that I can't eat raw oysters, steak or tuna tartare, MR steaks, just as I am opposed to all these states that have seat belt laws. Yes, I know seat belts save lives, but since when does our government have the right to enter that deeply into our lives? It is my choice! Sure HACCP doesn't cross that line, but it does take us one step closer to it.
I understand your point %100, However there are so many kitchens out there that have a bunch of clueless nimrods handling my food. I want a way to have people held accountable.
Healthcare, hospitals and the like live or die by these regulations!!!You must be able to trace every step of food from it's farm to it's plate.
This program was developed for all the right reasons, to protect our astronots.
I believe everyone in a proffesinal kitchen should be certified in applied food service sanitation, and the Exec Chef or manager should be trained in Haccp to moniter and train his/her staff.
This is not a case of big brother watching,we still have every opputunity to find tuna tartare, or carpaccio and eat raw oysters, but when some dude goes to the john and doesn't wash his hands and tosses the mesclun for the banquet of 250 people and the bride gets a food born pathigen, who's held accountible?
National Geographic just ran two interesting food articles. One on food safety and one on GM foods. Good articles.
One touches on HACCP. The thrust of the article was that our old methods of cooking and safety are no longer adequate because of the lack of quality control in the source food. Often from overseas, or at least not from the US. The factory food production means that one infected vegetable or animal will infect most of the rest of them before it comes out of the factory to be bought. And this isn't processed food, this is the raw basic ingredients. 80% of raw chickens have campylobacter, 23% salmonella.
I agree with Pete, the government isn't the best way. On the other hand, private industry hasn't stepped forward proactively to help ameliorate this situation. If there were competing private standards so that the consumers, providers, and chefs could pick and choose standards in keeping with their beliefs and budget, this would be less of a problem.
The final point of NG's article was that food is not a static business. Trends change, production and distribution change, cooking changes and the HACCP standard will not always be adequate or proper. But some standard(s) (private or government) will be.
It's part of being an educated consumer and business person.
Cape Chef, I am not saying that we, in the industry, should not be held accountable. I do believe that we should be held very accountable for what comes out of our restaurant. My point is, requiring a HACCP program, nationwide, is not the answer. As I said earlier, paper work can be fudged. It happens all the time. And let's face it, in the end, all that HACCP is, is paperwork to be filled out and filed. (Yes, I know it is more than that, but in the end all it is is a piece of paper). Besides, you let in the government and then you let in all the special interests groups. Take for example eggs: though health codes and HACCP, claim that 41 degrees is the safe max. temp. for cold food storage, eggs can legally be held at 45 degrees. Why? Because the Egg Council lobbied the government into giving them special treatment. Sure, the eggs are still safe, but so other foods may be also, they just don't have lobbists working for them. I have very little faith in our government at times (as if you couldn't tell) and I do believe that money can buy legislation. Are you really sure you want those types of people regulating your industry? Remember these are the same people who allow cigarettes and alcohol (both with little or no redeeming qualities) yet don't allow people to use Marijuana, even though doctors say that marijuana does have medicinal value in certain cases.
I am not totally against HACCP programs. If a restaurant feels that it needs a program in place (maybe because it is dealing with people with compromised immune systems or with uneducated people) then, by all means institute a program. When our government really has a clue what it is talking about, then maybe I will rethink it, but until then I can never support any legislation along these lines. Remember, this is the same government that does not allow us to make or import unpasterurised cheeses less than 60 days old. That means we cannot consume some of the best cheeses in the world. This is the same government, that until just a few years ago would not allow real, uncooked foie gras into this country. This is the same government that justifies paying farmers more to not plant fields, when people across this country and world are starving. And this is the government that you want to allow to have more say in how you should operate your business?
Are they really planning on making it mandatory nationwide? I don't think we need more governmental supervision. Look what that did to the education sector. I would prefer to implement HACCP on my own because I care about my food and customers not because the government wants to make me. They already have a law against slurping your soup in New Jersey, how much farther do they want to take monitoring restaurants?
I agree with Pete on this one. HACCP is good granted, but it is hard to keep up along with being a little tedious. Its almost as if the government wants ALL the food to be processed at some food plant somewhere and shipped to our homes so they can make more money. You can trace bad food back to the farmers or whatever country it got imported from in most cases. I don't see why we have to be tied to the whipping post.
Ive got the book.....maybe I need to reread it. Isn't all that documentation a little tedious, CC? Maybe we just need someone whos responsibility it is to monitor the HACCP. Ive tried to follow the guidelines and it is very hard to do that, cook and try to monitor everyone else. Especially when you don't speak their language all that well.
Sorry....very frustrating day. At least my butter cookies came out perfect. How would you recommend implementing a better HACCP system in a very tiny restaurant where all the help speaks a different language? Im in need of some guidance.
It will get computerized. Imagine bar codes, a scanner, and a PDA. Walk through, wand some things, data is automatically entered and time and date stamped. Thermometer/pyrometers would be part of the package too, probably.
Coupled with an inventory software, you can sort things out by date/expiration to quickly use up/throw out items.
Next time you fill out a software questionaire, or talk to a VAR or representative, ask for it. Show them there's a market.
So the material can be obtained in different languages.....ahhh.
Thank you CC! That would be much better than trying to use my terrible spanish to translate what should be done.
I just had a brainstorm! Duh! If you can get translations in Spanish, shouldn't they make this manual in Spanis also? They did say that spanish was the unofficial second language of the USA. Ill call the numbers you gave me CC, and also try to track down a HACCP manual in Spanish also. (Have to make sure they can read it also....some of my guys didnt go to high school where they are from. Just left the farm and worked)
I was having trouble with them reading the expiration dates and would have to show up periodically (even when Im not on duty) to make sure that nothing that has expired is in the walk ins. Last time I found a package of really black ground beef and a box of heavy cream that was curdling. Eww.
Most all manuals published for the restaurant industry are printed in English, Spanish, and in many cases Chinese (usually Cantonese). Check with your local NRA, as they usually have them in these languages. And with that, I shall leave the rest of this discussion to everyone else, as I have made my viewpoint clear and do not wish to subject you all to my rantings about our government.
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