Purpose and Function
Assembling the HACCP team is the first preparatory stage in the development of the HACCP plan. The primary role and functions of the team is the development, implementation and maintenance of an effective HACCP system. Members of the team are recruited from relevant roles and departments within business. This multi-disciplinary approach shares technical expertise and practical experience, develops synergy between different departments and fosters a wider ownership of the HACCP plan.
The HACCP Team Leader
Senior management will normally appoint the HACCP team leader, usually a competent technical manager who has practical expertise in the application of HACCP and possess effective management and communication skills2. The role supports, motivates and directs the HACCP team and ultimately held accountable for management of the HACCP system. Other functions within the role include:
- Selecting HACCP team members with relevant technical, operational or administrative expertise2
- Coordinating tasks within the HACCP team and other stakeholders
- Overseeing training and development opportunities relevant to the functions of the HACCP team
- Sourcing and allocating resources necessary for an effective HACCP system.
- Driving continuous improvements in HACCP system to ensure it remains valid
- Reporting to senior management on the progress and performance of the HACCP system and team
Selecting HACCP Team Members
The HACCP team leader will normally select members who possess technical, operational, and administrative expertise to support the HACCP system1. This team should be a manageable size and consist of three to six core members. They should be recruited from relevant departments within the business, including technical, quality assurance, engineering, production, hygiene etc. Specialists may be occasionally required to provide the HACCP team with additional expertise on specific aspects, such as microbiology, packaging and GFSI certification standards. Collective expertise for an effective HACCP team should include the following:
- Technical knowledge and practical experience in implementing and maintaining the HACCP system, especially validation and verification activities.
- Operational experience of inputs, processes, and outputs within the scope of the process flow diagram.
- Comprehensive understanding of likely sources and causes of food safety hazards relevant to onsite raw materials, operational processes and finished products.
- Thorough understanding of the intended use of the product, especially the potential for consumer abuse and unintended use.
- How to implement and maintain a wide range of effective control measures to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards.
- Technical knowledge and operational experience in how equipment in the process functions, especially its capability to achieve defined parameters and critical limits.
- Technical understanding in how legislation, customer requirements and certification standards affect the HACCP plan and its supporting prerequisite programmes.
Members of the team may occupy administrative roles to ensure the HACCP system follows in a logical and systematic manner and the process is adequately documented. These responsibilities may require additional expertise in functional skills (English, Maths and ICT), project management techniques, data analysis, root cause analysis and report writing.
Educating and Training the HACCP Team
Education and training are important factors in creating and maintaining an effective HACCP team. The HACCP team leader will usually conduct a skills gap analysis to the determine level of training required for individuals and different roles within the team. They are likely to require initial training, especially for those new to the HACCP system, and ongoing training to maintain competency. Core members of the team would be expected to hold a level 3 qualification in HACCP and the team leader a level 4 qualification. Additional training may be necessary to develop new skills to support administrative and maintenance functions such as project management, auditing, conflict resolution, etc. Audit standards may also require refresher training for members of the team whose certificates have expired.
Document Details of the HACCP Team
Details of the HACCP team members should be documented within the HACCP plan. Key information should include role within the team, full name, job title, relevant training, qualifications and experience. Any changes to the HACCP team must be recorded.
- Food Standards Agency (2020). Principle 5: Establish a Corrective Action Plan. [online]. Available at: https://myhaccp.food.gov.uk/help/guidance/principle-5-establish-a-corrective-action-plan%20Accessed%20on%2001/11/20#help-31 Accessed on 01/1120
- Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (unknown). Section 3 – THE HAZARD ANALYSIS AND CRITICAL CONTROL POINT (HACCP) SYSTEM [online]. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/w8088e/w8088e05.htm#module%2010%20%20%20establish%20corrective%20actions%20%20%20task%2010principle%205 Accessed on 01/1120