Top HACCP Mistakes


We rely heavily on the HACCP framework as the fundamental framework to identify, manage, and mitigate food safety risks in the food industry. HACCP has been referred to as the fundamental framework for food safety regulatory and preventive control development for the United States Food Safety and Modernization Act and the framework for preventive control plan for the Safe Food for Canadian Regulations. In this blog, we will be discussing what HACCP is, why it is commonly used in the food industry and adapted into the regulatory framework, common HACCP mistakes and the best practices for HACCP programs that you can use when managing a HACCP-based program or HACCP-based preventive control plan.

What is HACCP?

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. HACCP framework is based on a systematic approach to identifying and preventing hazards in food production. The system was first developed in the 1960s by Pillsbury and NASA to ensure the safety of astronauts’ food. It has since been adapted for use in the commercial food industry.

CODEX HACCP Principles and Steps

The CODEX HACCP illustrates 7 Principles of HACCP and 12 steps for building a HACCP plan.

Codex Principles

  • Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
  • Principle 2: Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs)
  • Principle 3: Establish critical limits.
  • Principle 4: Establish a monitoring system
  • Principle 5: Establish a procedure for corrective action when monitoring at a CCP indicates a deviation from an established critical limit.
  • Principle 6: Establish procedures for verification to confirm the effectiveness of the HACCP plan.
  • Principle 7:Establish documentation concerning all procedures and records appropriate to these principles and their application

12 Steps for HACCP Program Development

  1. Assemble and train the HACCP team.
  2. Describe the products and processes.
  3. Identify intended users.
  4. Construct a flow diagram.
  5. Validate the flow diagram.
  6. Conduct a hazard analysis (Principle 1)
  7. Determine the critical control points (CCPs) (Principle 2)
  8. Establish critical limits for each CCP (Principle 3)
  9. Establish a monitoring system (Principle 4)
  10. Establish a corrective actions procedure (Principle 5)
  11. Establish verification procedures (Principle 6)
  12. Establish record-keeping procedures (Principles 7)

Note that the last seven steps refer directly to the 7 Principles. We will not be going through these steps in detail as many of us are required to go through the HACCP refresher training every five years. You can also review the CODEX FAO guidance for HACCP here. If you need a HACCP template, scroll down for our free resources. However, it is important to note that it is not about just getting the HACCP refresher training to build and implement good food safety management systems. It is about getting the HACCP plan implemented correctly. At SFPM Consulting, every HACCP plan we build is customized based on our client’s needs and processes. We write 1-2 HACCP-based programs monthly, and here are some common mistakes when developing and implementing HACCP plans.

  1. Missing Processes
  2. Missing Considerations for Site Environment
  3. Focus on Implementing only Critical Control Point
  4. Not Knowing How to Implement HACCP Plan

We will be going through the common HACCP mistakes and strategies to mitigate these mistakes.

Top HACCP Mistakes and Mitigation Strategies

HACCP Mistakes #1: Missing Processes


  • HACCP programs and processes are not reviewed by the HACCP team or only reviewed for one shift and not checked against all shifts.
  • Combining processes into one, but they are not the same, can result in missing food safety hazards. For example, unboxing ingredients and opening canned foods have different hazards.

Possible solutions:

  • Break down all processes in detail before grouping processes together.
  • HACCP plan must be reviewed and signed off by Production Supervisors, Managers or production representatives for all shifts.
  • Observe processes to ensure all the process hazards are being captured.

HACCP Mistakes #2: Not Incorporating Site Environment


  • Environmental hazards are not included in the HACCP Plan. Check if you include
    • Possible cross-contamination risks from traffic flow
    • Potential risks from cooler and freezers
    • Other known environmental contamination, e.g. roof leakage etc.

Possible solutions:

  • Review traffic flow, cooler and freezer risks, and other potential environmental contamination risks

HACCP Mistakes #3: Forget to Implement Prerequisite Program


  • Only focus on getting the Critical Control Point right and ignoring the remaining prerequisite program.

Possible solutions:

  • Perform regular site inspections and internal audits to review the effectiveness of your prerequisite program.
  • Get guidance from SFPM Consultant to help coach your team on how to run and follow your food safety plan efficiently
Remember: Pre-requisite program is the building bricks for your HACCP plan

HACCP Mistakes #4: Do not know how to use the HACCP program and implement the HACCP program

Disclaimer: This is a real-life situation. Some food company have their HACCP plan but they are not implemented ie. not followed because they don't know how to use them.


  • Critical control points records are not available
  • Corrective actions for essential points of control are not conducted or not documented.
  • Essential points of control are not monitored.

Possible solutions:

  • Follow Critical Control Point Procedures
    • Monitor your CCP
    • Verify your CCP monitoring
    • Validate your CCP
    • Follow deviation procedures when there is a deviation
  • Get guidance from SFPM Consultant to help coach your team on how to run and follow your food safety plan efficiently

HACCP Program is Difficult to Implement

HACCP Program can be a struggle -it takes time, focus and attention to build and review a HACCP program. We did it so much that we feel your pain. Thus, we understand if you like a second opinion to review your HACCP plan and food safety program. Here is when we come in to assist our clients with building or reviewing their HACCP plan and/or help with the HACCP-based program implementations. Whether you need to complete a HACCP certification, SFC compliance or US FSMA compliance, we can assist you with your HACCP-based program development and implementation. Connect with us, and we can help you build a customized plan for your HACCP program. The best way to connect with us is by booking a complimentary Strategy Call here. Simply find a time that works for you 🙂



Free Food Safety Resources:

Download a free HACCP template here.

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Author: Felicia
Felicia Loo is a Certified Food Scientist and registered SQF Consultant, focused on assisting food business to obtain food business license, achieving effective food safety management system and automate food safety system.
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