Guidelines for Implementing HACCP System in a Poultry Processing Plant

Suresh K.Devatkal and J.Sahoo


Guidelines to implement HACCP in poultry processing plant provided here would benefit producers, processors and exporters

Poultry industry has been growing consistently at about 17% per annum which is the highest growth in agriculture sector. India is the fifth largest broiler producer and second largest egg producer. It contributes about 1% of total GDP and provides livelihood opportunities to more than 3 million people. India exports large quantity of poultry and poultry products to middle East Asian countries, Bangladesh, Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, However, with regulations coupled with strict SPS and HACCP measures imposed on Indian products have prevented export of Indian poultry products to European and other developed countries. This is causing enormous economic losses. Implementing quality standards accepted by these countries will improve the export potential of poultry products to these countries. Therefore guidelines to implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points in poultry processing plant provided in this article would benefit producers, processors and exporters to understand the role of HACCP in quality control and export.

International regulatory agencies like USDA, ICMSF, Codex Committee and FAO/WHO have endorsed HACCP as an effective and rational means of assessing food safety from harvest to consumption i.e. from farm to fork. Preventing problems from occurring is the paramount goal underlying any HACCP plan. It is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement, handling to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of finished products.
HAACP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food hazards based on the following seven principles:

Principle1: Conduct a hazard analysis
Principle 2: Determine the critical control points (CCP)
Principle 3: Establish critical limits
Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures
Principle 5: Establish corrective actions
Principle 6: Establish verification procedures
Principle 7: Establish record keeping and documentation procedures

Steps in development of a HACCP plan

HACCP plan should be product and process specific. Generic HACCP plans serve as useful guides in the development of process and product HACCP plans. Five preliminary tasks need to be completed before the application of HACCP principles in the development of a HACCP plan for any product or process.

Preliminary tasks

Formation of the HACCP team
Description of the food
and its distribution
Description of the intended use and consumer of the food
Drawing a flow diagram describing the process
Verification of the flow diagram.

HACCP team must consist of individuals having specific knowledge and expertise appropriate to the products and process. HACCP team for a poultry processing plant should consist of persons expertise appropriate to the poultry processing and poultry products manufacture. The team should be multidisciplinary and includes experts from engineering, production, veterinary, sanitation and food microbiology areas. The team can be assisted by outside experts having the knowledge of biological, chemical and physical hazards in a poultry processing plant. This team should then describe the food /dressed chicken and its distribution. The description should include processing methods, ingredients, information on whether the food is to distributed frozen, chilled or at ambient temperature. Now, team will have to describe the intended use and consumers of the particular food. Developing a flow diagram that describes the production process is the next step. The purpose is to provide a clear, simple outline of the steps involved in the process of production of dressed chicken and other products. The team should perform on-site review of operations to verify the flow diagram. Modifications should be made to the flow diagram as necessary and documented. After the completion of above preliminary tasks, the seven principles of HACCP are applied.

Conducting hazard analysis is the first principle. A hazard may be a biological, chemical and physical genet that is likely to cause illness and injury in the absence of its control. Process of conducting hazard analysis involves two stages. Hazard identification by brainstorming session, literature reviews, expert discussion etc is the first step. During this stage HACCP team should review the raw materials used in the product, activities involved, equipment used and final product storage and distribution. Based on this review team must list potential hazards. In a poultry processing plant biological hazards are pathogenic bacteria like salmonella, staphylococcus, E.coli, Campylobacter, chemical hazards like pesticides, toxic substances and drugs, and physical hazards like metals, knife, stones, foreign objects may enter the products during processing. Hazard evaluation is the next stage of hazard analysis. In this, team must decide which potential hazard should be addressed in the HACCP plan. Each hazard is evaluated based on severity of the potential hazard and its likely occurrence. This is mainly based on combination of experience, epidemiological data and information in the technical literature. Thus in a poultry processing plant microbiological pathogens are considered to be potential health risks and are addressed in subsequent steps. On completion of the hazard analysis, the hazards associated with each step in the production of dressed chicken should be listed along with any measure to prevent or control the hazards.

Determining the critical control points (CCP) is the next principle. CCP is a step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or to reduce it to acceptable levels. Complete and accurate identification of CCP is fundamental to control the food safety hazards. A CCP decision tree can be used to identify the steps in the process that acts as CCP. Example for CCP in a poultry processing plant are scalding, chilling, freezing, cooking, testing ingredients for chemical residues, selection of ingredients for product preparation etc.
Establishing critical limits is the next principle. Critical limit can be of maximum and/or minimum value to which a biological, chemical and/ or physical parameter must be controlled at a CCP to prevent or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level. Safe and unsafe operating conditions at a CCP should be distinguished by critical limits. These are based on factors such as temperature, time, physical dimensions, water activity, pH, moisture level, titratable acidity, salt concentration, and available chlorine, sensory attributes etc. The critical limits are generally derived from sources such as regulatory standards, guidelines, experimental results, literature surveys and experts. In a poultry processing plants, hazard identification identifies bacterial pathogens as significant biological hazard. Scalding step in the processing reduce the surface contamination and control measures like optimum time and temperature combination can be applied at scalding stage to reduce the contamination. Further, chilling step will prevent the growth of bacteria in the dressed chicken. Cooking step during product preparation ensures the reduction or elimination of biological hazard to an acceptable level.

Monitoring procedures should be established in next step to assess whether a CCP is under control, identify loss of control at a CCP should be to produce an accurate record for future use in verification. Personnel who monitor CCP are line supervisors, quality control personnel associated with production process. Generally physical and chemical measurements are preferred as they are rapid, more effective for controlling the microbiological hazards. Safety of dressed chicken is monitored by regulating the temperature of scalding, chilling, frozen storage and cooking .Beside measurement of temperature, pH moisture level, water activity are used as tools to monitor a CCP.

Any deviation from above established procedures must be corrected by taking corrective action preventing food that may be hazardous from reaching consumers. Corrective actions should include the cause of noncompliance, disposition of noncompliant product, record of corrective actions that have been taken. Specific corrective actions should be developed in advance for each CCP and included in the HACCP plan.

Apart from monitoring, the validity of HACCP plan and that the system is operating according to the plan should be carried out by establishing verification procedures. These procedures should take place during the development and implementation and maintenance of HACCP plan. Information needed to validate the HACCP plan are expert advice, scientific studies, in-plant observation, measurements and evaluations. Comprehensive verification of HACCP system should be conducted by an independent authority. Generally a third party experts, lead auditors and regulatory agencies/bodies carry out verification procedures before giving a HACCP certification to a poultry processing plant.

The final principle of HACCP is establishing record keeping and documentation procedures. These records should include summary of hazard analysis, control measures, HACCP plan, responsibilities of each member of HACCP team, description of food, its distribution and use, critical limits, corrective actions and record keeping procedures.

Implementation and maintenance of the HACCP

The successful implementation of HACCP is facilitated by commitment from the top management. It is essential to establish a plan that describes the individuals responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining HACCP system. HACCP coordinator and team are properly selected and trained as necessary. Product team can be appointed to develop HACCP plan for a specific product. Final implementation of HACCP system involves the continual application of the monitoring, record keeping, corrective actions procedures and other activities as described in the HACCP plan. Maintaining an effective HACCP system depends largely on regularly scheduled verification activities. .The HACCP plan should be periodically updated and revised as necessary. An important aspect of maintaining the HACCP system is to assure that all individuals involved are properly trained so that they understand their role and can effectively fulfill their responsibilities.


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