History of HACCP

How it started

HACCP got its start in the 1960s. Pillsbury Co. made a commitment to improve on already good quality programs by using some techniques it developed to supply food to NASA's astronauts. Howard Baumar Pillsbury's Vice President of science and regulatory affairs, was the key figure in the development work for the space program and its later application throughout the company.

Before the HACCP acronym was identified Phillsbury had taken the food safety system outside the research-and-development and pilot-plan mode and put it in to the East Greenville, pre-refrigerated dough plant in 1970. The original objective was to use expanded computer capabilities developed in Minneapolis, MN, to focus on product controls, specifications, and automated recall capabilities.

In 1970, a Pillsbury drink powder called Funny face was withdrawn from the market because it contained cyclamate sugar substitute which had been suddenly declared a possible carcinogen. This led to the establishment of the Product Control and Identification System (PCIS) task force.

The task force, under consultant John Haaland, developed what was referred to as the Product Safety Documentation Instructions by 1972. This manual covered the workings of the Corporate Food Safety Committee and its relationship to the free standing business or profit centres in regard to food safety. This manual had some significant resemblance to the concepts and format of what are now the ISO 9000 standards and the U.S. military standards.

The similarity is not surprising since the original HACCP work was done with what became Natick Laboratories of the Army, the Air Force Space Lab group and NASA. Thus even at its first commercialisation, HACCP is the cornerstone of the building blocks used to design and produce a safe food product. The overall program as implemented at Pillsbury elevated food safety to a corporate culture. It changed a reactive system into a proactive, preventive system from design to documented conformance.

HACCP, as part of a food company policy and management system, is still economically justified today and even more applicable for consumer protection in today's environment. Previously botulism incidents led to the Low Acid Canned Foods Regulations of 1973 that formally utilised the HACCP principles. Now the challenge to other segments of the food industry is to become more scientific and technologically capable to meet a common objective: to supply unadulterated food to the consuming public in an efficient cost effective way.

Not stated in that objective is a whole world of quality and nutrition relative to various markets or consumers. All areas are dealt with in a comprehensive quality programme which matches consumer needs with product attributes and spending price. Additional management systems, including ISO 9000 requirements, can deal with these areas in a formatted and effective manner. Further on there is a distinction between scientific food safety compliance through HACCP and other regulatory requirements such as adulteration, mislabelling, net weight, and so on. Regulatory requirements must be dealt with in an ISO program (elements 4,4 and 4,9).

What to include in a working HACCP plan has been an area of debate for the 25 plus years since HACCP was introduced publicly in 1971 at the National Conference of Food Protection. Pillsbury incorporated some regulatory compliance issues into many original HACCP plans. For many years, the HACCP system helped train personnel to prevent problems but did so through considerable, possibly excessive, documentation.

The HACCP systems of today correctly put many of the important but not critical control points (CCPs) in to prerequisite programs. Prerequisite programs are defined by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods as "procedures including good manufacturing practices that address operational conditions providing the foundation for the HACCP system." This approach puts the emphasis on doing the job with a reasonable amount of documentation to train, instruct, monitor, or try to measure such things as sanitation effectiveness or employee hygiene in supporting systems. It leaves the few critical points in the process to be dealt with in the HACCP program through measurable, documented data capture.

Quality Progress/February 1999 - An Integrated Approach to Food Safety, William L Bennet and Leonard L Steed.