hygiene zone
quality tools
quality techniques
human issues
quality awards
quality extra
visitor tools


Stay Informed
Sign up below to receive our Occasional Newsletter.

We Respect Your Privacy!

Web SaferPak
SaferPak: Food Packaging Safety, Food Safety, Business Improvement and Quality Management
       Home     About     Contact

Useful resources
HACCP Training for Food Packaging
If you are preparing a HACCP training programme for your employees and you need ideas, visit our secure online store to review our training CD-ROM's, booklets and posters: Online Store
Do you need help developing a HACCP system?
If you are planning to develop a HACCP system and need external assistance - visit the Food Safety Standards Directory to find an Expert HACCP Consultant

Ask an Expert in Our Online Discussion Forum
If you are developing a HACCP system and you need to ask a question visit our free access: discussion forums.

HACCP for Food Packaging Processes
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) is the recognised method for conducting a food safety hazard analysis and the methodology provides a useful framework for conducting a hazard analysis in a food packaging context.

On this page we provide you with the information and practical advice you need to implement a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system in your organisation that will meet the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging requirement for the adoption of a formal hazard and risk management system.

HACCP puts man in space
Ascent of HACCP
Benefits of HACCP
HACCP principles
The puzzle for packaging
Prerequisite programme
HACCP study guide
Further reading
Jargon review
Add a resource

HACCP puts man in space
A HACCP system is a preventative approach to controlling food safety. HACCP moves away from reliance on end product testing to a more proactive, preventative approach of controlling potential hazards.

Although HACCP is a relatively new concept to the food packaging industry, it has it's roots way back in the sixties. The first incarnation of HACCP was developed by the Pillsbury Corporation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to ensure food safety for the first manned space missions.

Since then, it has been widely adopted by national and international organisations, and the modern HACCP system and guidelines for its application were defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the Codex Alimentarius Code of Practice.

Ascent of HACCP
The ascent of HACCP has been rapid, mainly because of the increase in the reported cases of serious food poisoning and the introduction of The Food Safety Act 1990 and The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 (EU Food Safety Directive 93/43/EEC), which requires a food business to carry out a hazard analysis.

Although there is no legal requirement for food packaging manufacturers to carry out a hazard analysis, in recent years it has been a strong customer requirement and the adoption of a formal Hazard Analysis System is now an explicit requirement of BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging.

Benefits of HACCP
A preventative approach to food packaging safety
Can help identify process improvements
Reduces the need for, and the cost of end product testing
Is complementary to quality management systems such as ISO 9000
Provides evidence of due diligence
Reduces the likelihood of product recall & adverse publicity
Enhances customer satisfaction / reduces dissatisfaction
Facilitates better understanding of food packaging safety issues throughout the organisation
Improves staff performance through the promotion of team spirit
Improves staff morale and motivation through a cleaner working environment
Helps maintain compliance to the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging

HACCP principles
The standard approach to HACCP is that specified by the Codex Alimentarius, 1997, and follows 7 basic principles:

1. Conduct a hazard analysis
2. Determine the critical control points
3. Establish critical limits
4. Establish a system to monitor control of the CCP
5. Establish the corrective action to be taken when monitoring indicates that a particular CCP is not under control
6. Establish procedures for verification to confirm that the HACCP system is under control
7. Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application

The puzzle for packaging
HACCP was developed for the food industry and there are no guidelines for implementing HACCP within a food packaging context. The puzzle for packaging therefore has been trying to apply the Codex Alimentarius principles to food packaging and this has been the cause of endless frustration for the packaging quality professional. HACCP is a difficult enough system to implement when the guidelines are wholly relevant!

In general it is recognised that Critical Control Points (CCP's) as encountered in food companies, do not exist in food packaging. For example, if a food needs to be cooked for 30 minutes at 150°C in order to destroy any dangerous bacteria that may be present, then this is obviously a Critical Control Point and time and temperature are the control parameters that must be monitored. In my experience of carrying out HACCP studies on food packaging processes; I have found it extremely difficult (almost impossible) to identify CCP's (in their true form), and this has always created healthy debate with food safety auditors during technical audits. Most of the hazards that can be identified in a food packaging operation are of a generic nature and could occur at any stage of the process e.g. blades, glass, pests, poor personnel hygiene etc. These types of hazards are controlled by what are commonly referred to as 'prerequisite programmes' e.g. the standard operating procedures and basic environmental conditions that are necessary for safe food packaging production, and one would expect to find these in any comprehensive food packaging Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) / Good Hygiene Practice (GHP) system.

Prerequisite programme
Requirements for what should be included in a prerequisite programme are widely specified for food operations.

Fortunately the criteria for the 'prerequisite programme' for food packaging
manufacture is now very straightforward. It is the requirement for:

a documented Technical Management System
the control of factory standards, products, processes and personnel

as specified in sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 of BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging.

You may well find that the HACCP study does not identify any additional required control measures, but the practice of carrying out a hazard analysis may identify improvements, or exemptions against specific clauses of the standard. The HACCP study also provides for a greater understanding of the process and demonstrates that 'all risks' have been considered and that hygiene is under control.

HACCP study guide
The BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging requires a formal hazard analysis of the production process to be undertaken considering foreign objects, chemical and microbiological contamination as well as packaging defects critical to consumer safety. The following can be used as a guide for carrying out a HACCP study:

If you are developing a food packaging technical system to meet the requirements of the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging sign up for the discussion forum to download free document templates including an example HACCP study, procedures and forms.

1. Assemble the HACCP team
The team should be multidisciplinary and consist of people who know the process. Building your team from a wide spectrum of manufacturing personnel, and allowing them to identify the hazards within their process, facilitates greater understanding, and they will be much more likely to take ownership of solutions, controls and procedures.
2. Train the team
It's commonsense but all team members should have at least a basic understanding of HACCP principles and methods.

3. Outline the Terms of Reference
This is where the documentation of the HACCP system starts - The HACCP Plan. Begin by outlining the 'Terms of Reference' of the HACCP Study, e.g.

The HACCP study covers all products manufactured at AAA factory.
The HACCP study covers the production process from raw material source to delivery of finished product to the customer.
For each process step all potential hazards to consumer safety and product integrity have been identified and appropriate control measures established to minimise their risk.
The hazards considered by the study are foreign objects, chemical, microbiological and packaging defects critical to consumer safety.
The HACCP study has been carried out by the following team:

Mr Black- Technical Manager
Mr Pink - Quality Manager
Mrs Brown - Warehouse Manager
Mr Red - Print Manager
Mrs Blue - Conversion Manager
Mr Green - Engineering Manager
The HACCP Team will review the HACCP Study annually and following significant changes to the process.

It's good practice to produce the terms of reference before commencing the HACCP Study proper as this will help to focus the minds of team members for the task ahead.
4. Describe the product
Describe the product and product composition e.g. materials, coatings etc. Also detail any shelf-life and storage conditions that apply.
5. Identify the products intended use
Describe the users and uses of the product. e.g. Product AAA is used by customers for direct contact packaging of food, pharmaceutical and tobacco products. Product AAA provides a tamper evident seal in order to protect and preserve customers products.
6. Construct the Process Flow Diagram
Draw a simple 'flow chart' of the main process steps. Consider process steps not physically within the operation e.g. raw material sourcing and delivery of finished product to the customer.
7. Validate the Process Flow Diagram
Ensure that the Process Flow Diagram is accurate and is validated by all team members and other relevant personnel.
8. List all Potential Hazards Associated with Each Process Step
Carry out a detailed analysis of each process step listing all hazards that could reasonably be expected to occur.

9. Conduct the hazard analysis
Analyse each of the identified hazards. The hazard analysis should follow general principles for quantitative risk assessment, although the decision as to the likelihood and severity of each hazard is rather subjective.

Historical incident/complaint data may be useful for clarifying the likelihood of the risk occurring.

(L) = the Likelihood of the hazard occurring
(S) = the Severity of the outcome

(L) Likelihood  (S) Severity
3 High 3 High
2 Medium 2 Medium
1 Low 1 Low

L X S = R

(R) = the Risk Level for the specified hazard

Risk Level
1-3 Low risk (establish control measures where appropriate)
4-6 Medium risk (establish control measures)
7-9 High risk (Critical Control Point)

10. Consider Control Measures
The HACCP team must consider what control measures, if any, exist which can be applied for each hazard. More than one control measure may be required to control a specific hazard(s) and more than one hazard may be controlled by a specific control measure.

11. Establish Documentation
Because we have attributed a "numerical risk level" for each of the hazards we can determine both the priority for addressing the hazards and the level of control and monitoring required.

Obviously start by addressing the hazards with the highest risk level and develop appropriate process control and monitoring procedures and the supporting documents and records.

The vast majority of the hazards will be generic (not process step specific) and should be controllable by the provisions of the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging (the prerequisite programme).

12. Critical Control Points
Where Critical Control is required the following range of measures should be established for the CCP:

1. Critical limits
2. Monitoring system
3. Corrective action
4. Documentation and record keeping
5. Verification procedures

e.g. To try and get a handle on this it may serve to give an example: Let's say that the hazard analysis identified that the 'level of risk' of blade contamination following a tool change by an engineer was high, and the HACCP Team determined this to be a CCP.

We could implement a system whereby following every tool change the engineer was required to clear the machine of all extraneous matter and sign off the machine as 'safe for production''. The measures could then be:

1. The clear-down must be completed by the engineer 100%.
2. Effective completion of the clear-down must be verified by a supervisor before production can commence.
3. If production had commenced and the clear-down has not been completed then internal reject/product recall procedures should be initiated.
4. The documentation would be a checklist detailing the requirements of the 'clear-down' and provisions for the engineer/supervisor sign off, machine number, production order number etc.
5. Regular routine audits of completed checklists should be carried out.
13. HACCP Review
All controls required by the hazard analysis should be regularly reviewed, verified and validated to ensure that they are functioning effectively and to ensure that they are still up to date and reflect current knowledge. This should be done both through internal auditing and by the HACCP Team who should carry out a full review of the HACCP Study annually and following significant changes to the process.

TIP: Include a supplementary sheet in the HACCP Plan for recording the dates of reviews and the details of any changes to the HACCP plan.
14. HACCP Training
To ensure effective implementation of HACCP it is essential that employees understand the basic principles of the HACCP system and their role within it. They must be trained to identify potential contaminants and they must be shown how to prevent them through training in relevant control measures and procedures.
15. Exemptions to provisions of the standard
The hazard analysis may show that some aspects of the production process can be exempted from some of the provisions of sections 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the BRC Global Standard - Food Packaging e.g. in a low risk area such as a finished goods warehouse, where all product is covered and there is no manual handling. It may be that the hazard analysis confirms that 'hand washing' is not a required control.

TIP: To be accepted by the Certification Body an exemption must be clearly identified by the hazard analysis and the reasoning documented in the HACCP Plan.

Further reading
Hygiene Audit and HACCP Training for Packaging Manufacturers
by Dagmar Engel

A book written specifically for packaging! Now Available.

If there can be such a thing as a magical 'food safety' web site then this is it!

Food Standards Agency
A wealth of information from the independent food safety watchdog.

Food Safety Today
The Food Safety Today site is a regular alerting and information service from the Leatherhead Food International in the UK, one of the world’s leading research, information and training centres for the food and drinks industry.

Wait - grab yourself a coffee first!
This comprehensive list of food safety links is reproduced from the Appendix of Dr Stephen Forsythe's book, The Microbiology of Safe Food.

Jargon review
Control (verb) To take all necessary actions to ensure and maintain compliance with criteria established in the HACCP Plan.
Control (noun) The state wherein correct procedures are being followed and criteria are being met.
Control measure Any action and activity that can be used to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
Corrective action Any action to be taken when the results of monitoring at the CCP indicate a loss of control.
Critical Control Point (CCP) A step in the process at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level.
Critical limit A criterion which separates acceptability from unacceptability.
Deviation Failure to meet a critical limit.
Flow diagram A systematic representation of the sequence of steps or operations used in the production or manufacture of a particular food packaging item.
HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point - a system which identifies, evaluates, and controls hazards which are significant for food safety.
HACCP plan A document prepared in accordance with the principles of HACCP to ensure control of hazards which are significant for food safety in the segment of the food chain under consideration.
Hazard A foreign object, chemical or microbiological agent with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.
Hazard analysis The process of collecting and evaluating information on hazards and conditions leading to their presence to decide which are significant for food safety and therefore should be addressed in the HACCP plan.

The act of conducting a planned sequence of observations or measurements of control parameters to assess whether a CCP is under control.

Step A Point, procedure operation or stage in the production process from raw material source to delivery of finished product to the customer.

Obtaining evidence that the elements of the HACCP plan are effective.

Verification The application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring to determine compliance with the HACCP plan.
Adapted from Codex Alimentarius Food Hygiene Basic Texts 1997.







Back to previous page










top of page


home :: about :: contact :: terms

© 2006 SaferPak Ltd.