Why HACCP Fail In Practice

A food safety management system based on the principles HACCP should in theory reduce the risk of food poisoning. But food poisoning still occurs where systems are in place. A food manufacturer was fined £1 million after 37 people were made ill after eating chocolate bars contaminated with Salmonella. The investigation revealed an ineffective HACCP system was in place. There are many reasons for failures.


Pre-requisite programmes are the foundation of HACCP and control general hazards.  These include design and facilities, control of operation, maintenance and sanitation, personal hygiene and food safety training. Failures in providing these basic requirements are major causal factors in food poisoning outbreaks across the world. A pre-requisite assessment will identify any gaps in basic standards.


Poor hazard analysis and ineffective control measures are a serious risk to public health. This may be to failure to identify intrinsic factors of the product and process that could increase the risk of food poisoning. For example: cooking is not an effective control for destroying heat resistant exotoxins. 

Too many critical control points is a common error. Correct CCP identification requires technical knowledge and expertise to make a science based justification. They must be based on food safety and not quality.  Thorough hazard analysis and determining CCP’s through a decision tree will correctly identify critical control points.


An over complicated HACCP system may look good in theory, but unnecessary jargon will makes it difficult to implement and users may to find it hard to understand.  This could lead to knowledge based errors or deliberate violations by food handlers. HACCP systems must be written in plain English and communicate information in the shortest amount of words possible.


Motivated and competent people are an integral part of HACCP. They put policies and procedures into practice.  Competency does not mean trained. Training provides knowledge and stimulates behavioural changes. Competency demonstrates how a food handler can perform a task safely. This is usually done by completing a practical assessment which is observed by a supervisor or manager. But failures arise because there is too much focus on ‘ticking a box’ rather than thinking about how training will support a food safety management system. Completing an online food safety course will not necessarily meet the legal requirement for training to be commensurate with the work activity. Complex processes in catering and manufacturing may not be covered. Competency is observed in the workplace and not the classroom.


We regularly deliver level 2, 3 and 4 HACCP courses throughout the UK, including Birmingham, Milton Keynes, London (Park Royal and East Acton) and Slough. Please contact us to find out more on how we can support you. 

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