Corrective Actions Explained

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Corrective actions are important because they protect consumers from eating a potentially unsafe product and required under food safety legislation (EC 852/2004). These actions are implemented when monitoring indicates a deviation from defined critical limits at critical control points. Rapid detection of a deviation from a critical limit at monitoring will make it easier to regain control over the process and reduce the amount of non-conforming products.

Predetermined corrective actions are created during the development of the HACCP plan and focus on process and product. These actions should be developed by the HACCP team and must be validated to demonstrate a non-conforming product will not reach the consumer.  This avoids misunderstanding and provides evidence for a due diligence defence if required.  

The corrective action for a process is about bringing the process back under control immediately, but it may also be a longer term activity due to further investigation to prevent a similar recurrence in the future. Short term actions that adjust the process to regain control and prevent a deviation include cook longer to achieve correct temperature and increase PH

A corrective action for a product deals with the unsafe product produced following a loss of control. There a number of factors to consider when evaluating a corrective action for a potentially unsafe product. These will include how to appropriately deal with affected product and whether the product can be reworked or reprocessed safely. The non-conforming product may be need to be quarantined to assess the situation and conduct further tests. This will provide time to obtain further information to make a decision on what should happen to the product.  Reworking or reprocessing may not necessarily be the correct actions to take as they may not remove the threat and can actually create additional hazards.  These steps must be carefully considered and based on a thorough risk assessment. Destruction of product is usually regarded as the last option due to the cost implications for the food business operator.

Corrective action procedures should state what immediate action is required to bring the process under control and how to deal with the affected product. These instructions must also clearly define responsibilities for taking corrective actions and recording them, and whom should be informed. Two words that are usually found in the description for a corrective action are ‘if’ and ‘then’. The word ‘if’ precedes the condition that indicates a deviation and the word ‘then’ precedes the action taken to bring the process under control and deal with the affected product. Monitoring and corrective actions are usually recorded on the same form. A corrective action report should include a description of the deviation, product and amount on hold, details of the corrective action, names of those responsible for taking the action and results of any safety evaluation (testing).

Find out more about corrective action by enrolling on accredited HACCP course. We offer Level 2, 3 and 4 HACCP in courses in catering and manufacturing throughout the year at venues in Milton Keynes and London (East Acton). Alternatively, we could deliver an onsite course at your premises for two or more candidates. Areas covered include Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire (Corby), Warwickshire, Birmingham, Cambridgeshire (Peterborough), Berkshire, and Surrey.

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