Significant hazards for a particular food product are identified after a review of all the processing steps and use of scientific information. The steps at which these hazards can be controlled are identified, and critical limits, such as process temperatures and hold times at key process steps, are established. Monitoring procedures are implemented to ensure that these critical limits are met. If the process falls outside these limits, pre-planned corrective actions are taken to prevent a potentially defective product from entering the food supply. In addition, the HACCP system relies on extensive verification and documentation to ensure that food safety has not been compromised during any step. HACCP provides a structure for assessing risks of what could go wrong and for putting the controls in place to minimize such risks.
In fruit, vegetable and animal production, HACCP-like practices include producer record keeping, good hygiene, herd health management, residue avoidance, and, where appropriate, pathogen reduction strategies. Virtually all commodity organizations have implemented quality assurance education programs designed to maintain or increase food safety, wholesomeness, and quality.
In summary, the HACCP system identifies the possible problem; determines where to prevent the hazard (where does bruising or bacterial contamination occur?); where to recognize the problem (e.g., any possible residue); how to detect it; what to do as corrective action (e.g., drug withdrawal time); records; and documentation.