HACCP is an important, widely known, tool for identifying hazards that may be involved with food production and handling. In this article, we will take a look at the implementation of HACCP in Brazil.
Overview of HACCP
HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, which is Análise de Perigos e Pontos Críticos de Controle, or APPCC, in Brazil. HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical and physical hazards in its production processes. Basically, HACCP is a standard that specifies a management system intended to increase control and safety in the manufacture and handling of food. Besides from Brazil, the HACCP standard is endorsed by the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, making compliancy to HACCP standards a requirement to export food products to these countries. HACCP is also endorsed by the United Nations’ Codex Alimentarius.
HACCP is intended to protect food products from contamination that may affect the health of consumers. It is based on a series of steps inherent to food processing, based on the identification of potential hazards to health of consumers that may be present in food as well as in measures to control the conditions that may generate these dangers. To ensure safer food, HACCP requires the following seven principles to be followed:
- Conduct a hazard analysis and prepare a list of steps in the process where significant hazards can occur and describe the preventive measures
- Identify critical control points known as CCPs
- Establish critical limits for CCPs
- Establish monitoring requirements and establish procedures for using the results of monitoring to adjust the process and maintain control
- Establish corrective actions that are to be taken when monitoring indicates that there is a deviation from an established critical limit
- Establish verification procedures that document the HACCP system
- Establish record keeping procedures for future verification purposes
All companies involved in the commercialization, production, treatment and distribution of food products and other commodities, such as retailers, suppliers and commercial kitchens can benefit from complying to HACCP requirements.
HACCP in Brazil
In 1993, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) issued the first Brazilian regulation concerning the need for compliance to HACCP standards, but it was only necessary for producers and handlers of seafood and its derivatives. It was then followed by a Ministry of Health ordinance that required all food industries to comply to HACCP standards by the end of 1993. A final ordinance by MAPA in 1998 required that all facilities dealing with products of animal origin should be compliant to HACCP standards.
But in Brazil, a larger program called Programa Alimentos Seguros, PAS, which is Portuguese for Safe Food Program, is responsible for ensuring all entities operating in the food sector are compliant with rules that increase food safety, and that especially includes compliance to HACCP standards. Created in 2002, PAS is handled by Sistema S, MAPA, the Ministry of Health and ANVISA - the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency.
PAS agents are responsible not only for overseeing that the entities of the food sector are complying to HACCP standards but, are also responsible for qualifying companies and individuals that are willing to be compliant in a more efficient way or to overcome certain particular problems related to their specific production chain. Through the means of training, consultations and courses. PAS are also responsible for supervising that HACCP standards are respected and for ensuring that new companies comply to these standards.
HACCP compliance is of extreme importance to Brazil, as Brazil is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of food exports, namely of poultry and meat, to the countries that were mentioned above and that consider HACCP standards as a minimum requirement in order to accept the import of food products.
Another agency that certifies that food handling entities are compliant with HACCP standards in Brazil is the ABNT, the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards, the representative of ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, in Brazil. In 2006, the ABNT issued the ABNT NBR ISO 22.000:2006 - Sistemas de Gestão da Segurança de Alimentos - setting further requisites, that were in line with ISO’s, to improve food safety in Brazil. The mainobjective of ISO 22.000 is the harmonization to a global level of the safety managementrequirements for food handling companies.
Food is one of the products that are not automatically licensed by Siscomex in import operations, since they may carry hazardous organisms into Brazilian territory. Because of this, food products imported to Brazil are required to have been handled in facilities that are compliant with HACCP standards, holding the ISO 22.000 certification in order to be cleared by Anvisa, the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency, and by MAPA, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.