Now we are getting into the multiple levels of control that make a HACCP program so effective. Level 1 is monitoring: people who are directly involved with the food product at the Critical Control Point checking to make sure Critical Limits are met. These people have taken direct responsibility for the Critical Limits assigned to them and have been given clear guidelines on how often to monitor, what to monitor, and the corrective action to take if a Critical Limit is not met.
But how do you know for sure your monitors are carrying out their very important duties accurately? Despite best intentions, human error is a very real possibility, and one the success of your HACCP program cannot afford to allow. Principle 6 in the HACCP program adds another layer to the safety net designed to catch every violation of a Critical Limit.
Verification is different from monitoring in two important ways: it should be carried out by someone other than the monitor, and it should follow a less frequent but very thorough schedule than monitoring.
Monitoring is carried out multiple times every day. Verification should be carried out maybe once a day or once a week. The person conducting verification should keep the following in mind:
Observe monitoring as it is being carried out in real time. This allows you to see if actual situations allow for the monitoring guidelines to be followed properly. It also allows the verifier to see if the monitor is doing things the right way.
Review records and ensure they are being recorded accurately and consistently. It’s all too easy for someone in a monitoring position to flub a temperature record in the interest of time during a busy rush. More innocent mistakes are also entirely possible, like reading a thermometer incorrectly or placing the instrument in the wrong place when trying to read temperature. These mistakes will be revealed as you check records against observations.
Check actual practices against guidelines. What’s different between the guidelines and practice? Is there a problem with the guidelines or with the practice? Remember, your HACCP program should be an evolving creature, not a rigid set of rules.
Were corrective actions carried out properly? When a corrective action needed to be taken, was it identified correctly and in a timely manner? Was the corrective action successful? Was it recorded properly?
Is monitoring equipment up to snuff? Finally, make sure the tools your monitors use are properly calibrated and in good working order. There’s no point in monitoring with a broken thermometer or one that’s 15 degrees off.