The effective implementation and maintenance of the HACCP plan requires evidence to demonstrate systems in place are capable of producing safe food and consistent in practice. Validation demonstrates systems can control hazards and monitor deviations; whereas verification shows compliance. Prerequisite programmes, such as cleaning and disinfection, should also be validated and verified to demonstrate they can effectively support the HACCP plan.
Validation can be defined as obtaining evidence that elements of the HACCP plan are effective before implementation. This involves checking significant hazards and critical control points are correctly identified and can be effectively controlled during the process. Validation activities can include predicative modelling, challenge testing, experimental trials and document review (scientific studies, legal requirements and industry best practice).
External documentation is useful in validating control measures, critical limits and monitoring systems, but the HACCP team must evaluate whether this evidence is sufficiently related to the actual process. Internal validation is important because external evidence based on scientific studies may not relate to a specific product and process. Conducting an internal scientific study will demonstrate a process step is capable in controlling a hazard and monitoring can detect a deviation from operational and critical limits. Internal validation studies must be documented and show repeatable evidence in how the hazard was eliminated or reduced.
The sixth principle of HACCP is verification. At this stage the focus is to determine what happens in practice complies with the HACCP plan and includes verifying process or product descriptions, process flow diagrams and the HACCP control chart. Verification is in addition to monitoring and mainly includes compliance audits, microbiological and chemical tests, and records review conducted by the HACCP team or externally by third party experts. Collecting and evaluating objective information will confirm monitoring activities are performed correctly by those responsible for the task, equipment used for monitoring is reliable, corrective actions are performed properly when a deviation occurs and HACCP records are accurate. Verification procedures must be documented and include method and frequency. The method should be capable of detecting a deviation in the HACCP plan and frequency should be conducted in relation to the risks identified with products and process steps. Verification activities must be recorded and provide sufficient detail to confirm compliance with the HACCP Plan. Records can include audit reports, results from chemical and microbiological tests, and challenge testing and calibrating monitoring equipment.
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