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Process HACCP: How to implement a restaurant HACCP plan

Looking to implement the 7 Principles of HACCP in your restaurant? Read CMX's guide to “Process HACCP,” a modified HACCP process built for purpose.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (or HACCP) is a food safety system that focuses on potential food safety hazards occurring in the production flow. For many decades now, HACCP has been successfully applied in food processing facilities, helping manufacturers to produce safe food for their consumers.

While HACCP is required for most food processing companies; for restaurants, it’s voluntary. This, of course, doesn’t mean that it’s not important. This article explains how you can implement a modified ‘Process’ HACCP to fit your retail food business—protecting your customer’s safety as well as your brand’s reputation.



What is process HACCP?

Process HACCP is an approach that takes the same food safety principles that are mandatory for food processing companies and adapts them so that they’re applicable to retail food establishments. All the same principles are adhered to, but with slight modifications that enable you to implement them efficiently in your restaurant.

It’s no secret that food safety remains one of the biggest challenges in the food industry. But while food manufacturers have a time-tested HACCP system, it’s not the same case for restaurants. Fortunately, with Process HACCP, you can implement these same principles with slight modifications to suit your retail food establishment and enjoy the benefits.



How does it work?

Usually, when a food manufacturer sets up a HACCP plan, they look at the various food products they produce and then follow the steps that go into making that one product. Naturally, this becomes a lot more complicated for a restaurant that uses different food products to produce one final meal.

Because food service and retail food establishments have to deal with a wide range of products and menu items (each with its own process), it’s necessary to modify the traditional HACCP approach in order for it to be more usable. Instead of focusing on the end product, you apply the “process approach”, looking at the whole flow of food through your establishment – from receiving to sales.



So what do these processes look like?

Most establishments make use of one (or all) of the following food preparation processes:

  • Receive – Store – Prepare – Hold – Serve. This process includes no cook step to kill potential illness-causing bacteria.
  • Receive – Store – Prepare – Cook – Hold – Serve. This process includes a cooking step (sufficient to kill off potential pathogens), but food also moves through the danger zone (40°F and 140°F) once.
  • Receive – Store – Prepare – Cook – Cool – Reheat – Hot Hold – Serve. This process includes multiple steps and foods move through the danger zone more than once.

Of course, these are only examples. Depending on your concept, other steps (like packaging and food delivery) may be included before final consumption. For a fast-food restaurant, they may have a specific cook-serve process, with no holding step.

With such complicated processes and multiple menu items, it’s easy to see why a modified and specific Process HACCP approach is necessary for your restaurants. Instead of the arduous task of looking at every individual food product, you look at the process as a whole to identify potential food safety risks.


Food Prep Line shutterstock_635021303-1

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The 7 principles of ‘process’ HACCP for restaurants

The 7 principles of HACCP are used to identify, evaluate, and control the chemical, biological, and physical food safety hazards within restaurants. Using a typical chicken cooking process (Receive – Store – Prepare – Cook – Hold – Serve) as an example, the principles will look like this:



1. Conduct a hazard analysis

You’ll want to start by listing any potential food safety hazards related to your menu with the potential to cause illness or injury to your customer if not effectively controlled.

For restaurants, this means creating a list of food safety hazards related to your menu. It also includes how the food is stored, prepared, and cooked (if applicable), and which equipment is used. Overlooking one potential hazard could render the entire HACCP plan ineffective, even if you adhere to it diligently.

Example: Raw chicken is prepared for same-day consumption. The potential food safety hazard is the risk of Salmonella bacteria if the chicken is not cooked properly. (a potential biological hazard).



2. Determine the critical control points (CCPs)

Next, identify the points where hazards could be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level. While some processes form part of prerequisite programs (PRPs), critical control points are those processes where a control can be applied.

Restaurants should pay specific attention to food safety hazards that could lead to contamination (whether chemical, biological, physical). For each item on your menu, go through the food preparation process—from receiving raw materials to storage, and food preparation—and identify points where food safety is likely to be compromised.

Example: A critical control point could be where the raw chicken is cooked. The cooking step needs to be sufficient in order to destroy Salmonella or reduce the bacteria to a level safe for consumption.



3. Establish critical limits

Next, you’ll set the minimum and maximum CCPs necessary to maintain a safe environment and prevent, eliminate, or reduce food safety hazards to an acceptable level.

Critical limits must be based on scientific factors, guidelines, regulatory standards, experts, or experimental results and can include factors such as pH, temperature, humidity, salt concentration, etc.

Example: In order to kill Salmonella, raw chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F for at least 15 seconds. The critical limit would therefore be 165°F for 15 seconds.



4. Establish monitoring procedures

Going forward, you’ll need to keep detailed records to ensure that the critical limits are adhered to. Ideally, the monitoring procedures are continuous and done electronically. Doing this will ensure increased accuracy, control, and visibility over the process as opposed to doing it intermittently and manually.

Monitoring a CCP is an important responsibility. Employees should be properly trained on the “why” and the “how”. Once employees understand the impact of food safety hazards (e.g., outbreaks, product recalls, business closure, job losses, etc.), they are more likely to get on board with the HACCP plan.

Example: In order to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, a clean (and sanitized) temperature probe should be placed in the thickest part of the chicken meat to ensure that a temperature of 165°F was reached for at least 15 seconds.



5. Establish corrective actions

Inevitably, issues will arise. You will need to create and record corrective actions to mitigate discovered hazards.

When deviations do inevitably occur, it’s vital that corrective action be taken immediately:

  • First determine the root cause of non-compliance and then correct it by demonstrating the CCP is once again under control (re-examine the process if needed);
  • Establish the disposition of the product that is non-compliant;
  • Document the corrective actions that are to be taken in response.

It’s crucial that you outline unique corrective actions for each CCP in advance, and list those in your HACCP plan. Instructions can include:

  1. What is to be done after a deviation happens;
  2. Who will be responsible for applying corrective actions;
  3. How and where the corrective actions will be documented.

Example: If the internal temperature of the chicken did not meet the requirements, it should continue cooking until 165°F is reached for at least 15 seconds. This additional time should be recorded.



6. Establish verification procedures

To maintain consistency and safety, establish checklists, verification, and operational routines for each daypart and shift throughout the week to verify whether your HACCP system is working. Also, having the management team perform routine self-assessments helps gauge overall compliance with regulatory bodies and brand standards. This also ensures your restaurants are ready for an audit by the local health department.

Example: the shift manager needs to review the temperature logs to ensure that the critical limit was met every time.



7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures

Document all efforts to maintain food safety and quality, including the initial hazard analysis, the HACCP plan, the assignments, roles, and duties, to the support documentation confirming the procedures were fulfilled.

It’s of vital importance to maintain proper records, particularly for auditing and inspection purposes. It allows you to keep track of raw materials, process operations, and finished products in your establishment. This will allow you to identify potential problem areas where deviations might occur.

Examples of documentation related to the chicken cooking process would include: temperature monitoring charts (including notes on deviations and corrective actions), and supplier invoices.



Digitizing Process with CMX1

When you consider the multitude of hazards and critical control points in your restaurants, coupled with the number of menu items, locations, and frequency of staff turnover you may have, you can see why digitizing your restaurant’s food safety and quality systems is a worthwhile investment.



But why go digital with CMX1?

Going digital with CMX1 will help you improve accountability, visibility, accuracy, and gain the oversight needed to ensure your customer’s safety and protect your brand’s reputation!

The CMX1 platform enables your restaurant brand to completely transform all your HACCP-related procedures. You’ll benefit from the innovation and learnings we’ve gained from working with leading restaurant brands for more than 10 years running. Together, we can automate your restaurant operations—which ultimately impacts customer satisfaction, growth, and profits.

At CMX1 we’ve partnered with dozens of the leading restaurant brands, providing them with the digital tools and solutions they require ensuring quality, food safety, and consistency across the board.


If you want a digital partner that knows restaurant operations, look no further.

Reach out to the expert team here at CMX1 today.

Free eBook: Transform your restaurant’s Food Safety System


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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in March 2021 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.