Role and Functions
Assembling the HACCP team is the first preparatory stage within the 12 CODEX Steps of HACCP. The main role and functions of the HACCP team are to develop, implement, and maintain an effective HACCP system, which meets legal requirements, codes of practice standards, and protects consumers from harm.
Creation of a multidisciplinary HACCP team provides a productive environment in which members are encouraged to share technical expertise and practical experience at each step of the production process. This collaborative approach facilitates a robust and transparent approach in making crucial decisions during and after the HACCP study.
Members of the HACCP team will occupy advisory and administrative roles. Advisors within the group provide technical and operational expertise. While members with administrative responsibilities ensure the HACCP process follows a logical and systematic approach, and is appropriately documented. Team meetings are invariably a part of the administrative process. The frequency should drive momentum, but also permit sufficient time to gather information and complete actions points before the meeting. Each one must have specific objectives and follow a written agenda. Discussions and action points during the meeting must be recorded in a written format.
The HACCP Team Leader
The role of a supporting and encouraging HACCP team leader is vital in implementing and maintaining a successful HACCP system. Senior management will normally appoint this person, usually a competent technical manager who has expertise in the practical application of HACCP and underpinning leadership and management skills. The HACCP team leader is held accountable by management for delivering an effective HACCP system. Other functions within the role include:
- Selecting HACCP team members with relevant technical and practical expertise
- Coordinating tasks within the team and other stakeholders
- Managing training and development opportunities relevant to the functions of the HACCP team
- Sourcing and allocating resources required to support the implementation and maintenance of the HACCP system.
- Driving continuous improvements to ensure the HACCP system remains valid.
- Reporting to senior management on the progress and performance of the system and team.
Selecting HACCP Team Members
The HACCP team leader will usually select members who possess technical, operational, and administrative expertise to support the HACCP system. The team should be a manageable a size between three to six members. Core members will be required on a continual basis while others maybe join the team temporarily for specific tasks.
The team should be multidisciplinary and draw upon expertise from food production operations, quality assurance, technical, and engineering disciplines. Additional specialists working other departments may be required to fill gaps in existing knowledge and experience during the development and maintenance of the HACCP system. Specialists may include those working in hygiene, procurement, laboratory services, new product development, storage and distribution and training and development. An external consultant may be required to advise the team on certain aspects beyond their collective expertise. This person should not write the HACCP plan as this may undermine ownership and maintenance of the system.
- Collective expertise required within an effective HACCP include the following:
- Technical and practical aspects in implementing and maintaining the HACCP system, especially validation and verification activities.
- Extrinsic and intrinsic characteristics of the finished product and its intended customers and consumers.
- Practical knowledge of inputs, processes, and outputs within the process flow from receipt of goods to dispatch or distribution. Proficiency in how equipment functions, its capabilities to achieve process parameters and critical limits, and known or possible faults
- Competence in identifying sources and causes of food safety hazards relevant to onsite raw materials, operational processes and finished products. Capability in implementing and maintaining a wide range of effective control measures to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards.
- Technical knowledge in how legal compliance, customer requirements and certification standards affect the HACCP plan and its supporting prerequisite programmes.
- Administrative tasks may require members with expertise in project management, effective written and verbal communication, computer skills, data collection and analysis methods, root cause analysis and report writing.
Documenting Details of the HACCP Team
Details of the HACCP team members should be documented within the HACCP. 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.