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HACCP Principle 2 – The Difference Between CCP & SOP

This post is a continuation of last week’s HACCP post and the second in a series of posts here on The Back Burner that will completely outline a proper HACCP program for your restaurant.

HACCP Critical Control PointsA Critical Control Point (CCP) is a specific place where food can become contaminated.  After conducting the Hazard Analysis in Step 1, and identifying the what, where, when, why, and how, you should have a good idea of what your CCPs should be.  However, not all potential contamination points should be labeled a Critical Control Point.  Critical control points are exactly that: absolutely essential to ensuring food safety in your restaurant.

Other points of potential contamination should absolutely be addressed without using the HACCP system.  This is a key distinction when using HACCP: this program is designed for the control of critical contamination points in the food preparation and storage process, and should be used in conjunction with a robust food safety program, not in place of a food safety program.

Unless you are brand new to the food service industry, you have probably already created a list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for applying proper food safety in your restaurant.  New operators should work with their local Board of Health to develop their SOPs before opening the doors.  These SOPs are called Prerequisite Programs in HACCP.  This distinction is important because as you identify risks and hazards in your restaurant, you are going to find points that should be addressed, but are not absolutely essential to achieving food safety for food safety.

These less critical points should be addressed with a Prerequisite Program, with definitive steps for minimizing risks and hazards.  The critical points in food preparation and storage that have to be done right every time to prevent contamination should be labeled a CCP and folded into your HACCP program.

So how do you decide which points are a CCP and which can be handled by a Prerequisite Program?  A good strategy is to analyze the food preparation process for each item on your menu.  There are a few exceptions, but in general most menu items can be divided into three groups (please keep in mind that the CCPs listed below are the most common examples only; actual CCPs may vary depending on the situation):

Process 1 – No Cook
Process 2 – Cook & Serve
Process 3 – Complex Prep

More on these processes in the next post.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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