8 Facts About HACCP Coordinators

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic approach used to prevent chemical, physical and biological hazards in food production. The approach focuses on preventing problems of food safety and quality problems before they occur.

HACCP is an internationally recognized method that requires manufacturers to develop plans and processes that address potential food safety problems and put systems in place to mitigate their risk. It sounds as though there is a lot to HACCP, doesn’t it? Well, there is! That’s why many large companies delegate one person to implement and maintain the HACCP program.

HACCP coordinators, not to be confused with quality assurance technicians or food safety managers, coordinate all aspects related to HACCP plants.

1. HACCP Coordinators Manage HACCP Programs

HACCP Coordinators provide leadership and direction through the implementation and management of a HACCP program. They coordinate the development, implementation, maintenance and updates of a facility’s HACCP system. HACCP Coordinators ensure that documentation is maintained and updated based on improved processes. In addition to creating documentation, they also develop food safety and food quality-related training programs. Furthermore, they will go out on the manufacturing floor to verify that HACCP plans match the activities being performed by staff.

These professionals assist with third-party audits. To successfully complete these audits, HACCP Coordinators must lead team meetings and provide HACCP system performance reports. Finally, they ensure that when something goes wrong at the plant, corrective actions are put in place and preventative measures are established.

2. HACCP Coordinator perform a lot of paperwork

There’s a saying in food quality — if it isn’t documented then it didn’t happen. HACCP programs require companies to have documentation on processes, monitoring procedures, deviations and corrective actions taken at each critical control point. These documents come in many forms such as processing charts, checklists and written records. HACCP Coordinators create these documents as outlined by the international HACCP requirements. For example, every time a piece of equipment is cleaned documentation must be completed as “proof” it happened.

3. HACCP Coordinators have degrees in science 

It’s common for HACCP Coordinators to have bachelor’s degrees in food science, biology nutrition or a related field.Many of these programs have courses that teach about concepts in HACCP and to how write up your very own plan. However, in recent years, alternative routes have sprung up for students. Some companies only require individuals to have a college diploma in a food science-related discipline such as quality assurance or microbiology.

No matter their education, it is essential that HACCP Coordinators have working experience for at least a year in a quality-related role like Quality Control or Quality Assurance. Experience in these roles gives individuals a better perspective on what goes on in a manufacturing plant.

Finally, becoming a HACCP Coordinator requires an actual certification in HACCP. These certifications can be obtained from reputable certification providers that offer online courses or in-person training. Some employers may even sponsor an employee’s training

4. HACCP Coordinators work directly with operations staff

HACCP coordinators need to have strong communications skills.  They need to be team players who are able to relate with all levels of staff and build trust; Production staff, supervisors and upper management. That way every individual feels they can come to the coordinator and not feel that their concerns will be pushed aside.

5. HACCP Coordinators analyze trends

An essential step during any HACCP plan is to monitor operations and determine if there is a trend towards a loss of control. This is to ensure that operations can be taken into control before a deviation from a critical limit occurs.

For example, in a manufacturing plant that deals with allergens a HACCP coordinator might notice that over the period of a month the plant failed numerous peanut allergen tests. They would investigate to find the root cause which in this case could be poor cleaning training of new staff.

6. HACCP Coordinators assist with audits

An audit is the process of verifying proper food safety practices at a food and beverage processing facility. Data collected from audits helps manufacturing plants to verify proper safety practices and identify key areas which need to be improved.

Preparing and going through an audit is a lot of work and food plants need guidance to go through them. That’s why HACCP Coordinators facilitate or assist with third party audits and prepare/coach cross functional managers and production supervisors before and during these audits.

In addition to audits they also help to perform mock recalls.

A mock recall is an internal practice where it is pretended that a product is not safe for use such as contaminated/labeling issues. Then the facility try to imitate what would happen if a real audit occurred.

7. HACCP Coordinators train other staff

Typically there is only one individual which is established as the HACCP coordinator but this doesn’t mean that the skills end with them. HACCP Coordinators train and create training material for various levels of staff including quality assurance, operations, sanitation and maintenance.

They conduct annual training such as prerequisite training, good manufacturing practice training and food defense training.

8. HACCP Coordinators are organized, leaders and communicators

Being a quality assurance professional requires a range of skills however there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

  • Organization – HACCP programs are extensive with multiple documents and are organized like a book with sections, chapters and references to other material. To maintain these this system HACCP Coordinators also have to be organized. Information must be easily accessible and in the world of safety, nothing should ever be lost.
  • Leadership – HACCP Coordinators motivate and inspire others in an organization to uphold food safety regulations and practices. They are proactive, lead by example and establish a clear view of what a safe food facility should look like.
  • Communication/Interpersonal skills – The ability to communicate is an essential skill needed in teamwork. Staff can’t uphold food safety if they are unaware of what to do. Coordinators effectively communicate with all levels of operations.

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