Food Safety Systems - Prerequisite Programs and Validation


March 31, 2015 - Robert Culler and Tina Conklin


During the preparation and processing of food products there are many aspects to assure that the item is wholesome, safe and not adulterated. "Adulteration" is a legal term meaning that a food product fails to meet federal or state standards. Adulteration usually refers to noncompliance with health or safety standards as determined, in the United States, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The backbone of any Food Safety System is Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection.

Meat and poultry HACCP systems are regulated by the USDA, while seafood and juice are regulated by the FDA. The use of HACCP is becoming mandatory under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for other food industries.
HACCP itself was conceived in the late 1960s when the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US Army Natick Laboratories and Pillsbury collaborated to design a food safety tool to manufacture the first foods for space flights. It was, however, recognized that HAACP by itself does not provide the complete food safety system. For a complete food safety system, HACCP is supported by numerous programs that are generally referred to as “prerequisite programs”. Depending on the industry other names for prerequisite programs are Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Preventative Maintenance Program, etc.

The goal of this document is to identify the various prerequisite programs and explain their purpose.


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