Critical Control Point (CCP)

A critical control point (CCP) is a point or step at which control can be applied so a hazard may be prevented, completely eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level. In some cases, more than one CCP may be required to control a hazard. The number of necessary CCPs depends on processing steps and how much control is needed to ensure safety. If critical control points are not enforced, this may harm customers’ health and safety and could result in the loss of business. 

CCPs are most often used in cooking and food preparation. In these industries, food safety managers determine critical limits, and they identify and manage safety-related risk. Critical control point is an essential component to many food security plans and food safety programs; it provides regulatory agencies, the public, and customers assurance that the product is safe and the food is overall well managed.

Critical control points are an essential step in HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points), which is a preventative approach to food safety. The system prevents physical, chemical, and biological hazards from occurring within the production process that may cause the finished product to be unsafe. Measures are designed using this system to bring risks down to a safe level. HACCP covers the entire process, from raw material production to distribution and consumption. 

First, a hazard analysis is conducted to identify where significant hazards are most likely to occur. The HACCP plan will focus on these hazards and how they can be controlled, prevented, or eliminated. The second step is to establish critical control points in order to address these hazards in a probable manner. Any hazard that is excluded must be justified, and this justification reported.

A CCP decision tree can help identify whether a step is a critical control point in the production process. These decision trees are tools that may also help you decide if it’s possible to eliminate the hazard or only reduce it to an acceptable level, and to confirm whether more safety controls are required.

Once the hazards and CCPs have been identified, a monitoring procedure will be established to measure limits at each control point. Monitoring CCP should describe how and when the measurement is taken, who will take it, and how frequently the measure should be conducted during production. A key component to HACCP is recording information that may be used later to prove that the product was indeed produced safely. Through the use of both hazard analysis and critical control points, products such as food can be processed in a way that causes no harm or loss to either customers, or the business.

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