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HACCP corrective actions: definition and examples

In the world of food safety and quality management, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is a fundamental t


ool. HACCP is a legal requirement, and a proactive approach designed to prevent foodborne hazards rather than reacting to them after they occur. Central to this system are corrective actions, which play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and quality of food products. In this blog post, we'll delve into the definition and provide examples of HACCP corrective actions.


Chef and inspector discussing critical control points


What are corrective actions in HACCP?


In a HACCP plan, corrective actions refer to the systematic steps taken when a critical control point (CCP) is found to be out of the specified limits or when deviations from the established HACCP plan occur. The primary objective of corrective actions is to eliminate the root cause of the deviation and bring the process back into control, thereby ensuring the safety and quality of the food product.


Corrective actions serve as a crucial component of the HACCP system because they help prevent the distribution of potentially hazardous or subpar food products. These actions are essential in maintaining consumer trust, complying with regulatory requirements, and safeguarding public health.


Examples of corrective actions in HACCP


Temperature deviation in cooking process

Imagine a HACCP plan for a restaurant cooking chicken breasts for roast dinners that must be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C to eliminate harmful bacteria like Salmonella. During routine monitoring, it is discovered that the temperature fell short of the target, reaching only 71°C. In this case, the corrective action might include stopping the cooking, adjusting the cooking equipment, and extending the cooking time until the desired temperature is consistently achieved.


Sanitation and cross-contamination

Effective sanitation is critical in food processing to prevent cross-contamination and the spread of foodborne pathogens. If, during inspection, it is found that a food contact surface is not adequately sanitised, corrective actions may involve re-cleaning the surface, retraining the personnel responsible for sanitation, and implementing more stringent monitoring procedures.


Contaminated food with bugs

Ingredient quality control

In a bakery, the HACCP plan may specify that flour should be inspected for any foreign objects, such as metal fragments, before it is used. If a batch of flour is found to contain a foreign object, corrective actions might involve immediately quarantining the affected product, conducting a thorough investigation into the source of contamination, and implementing enhanced quality control measures for incoming ingredients.


Allergen control

Allergen mismanagement can have severe consequences for consumers with allergies. If a restaurant handles multiple allergenic ingredients, a deviation may occur when an allergen is unintentionally introduced into a non-allergenic product. Corrective actions would involve stopping serving and making, segregating the affected product, conducting a root cause analysis, and implementing improved allergen control procedures.


Burger served with nuts

Record-keeping and documentation errors

Accurate record-keeping is crucial in HACCP to trace products, processes, and deviations. If it's discovered that records related to a specific batch are incomplete or inaccurate, corrective actions may involve reevaluating the record-keeping process, providing additional training to staff responsible for documentation, and ensuring that accurate records are maintained moving forward.


In all these examples, the essence of corrective actions lies in addressing the root cause of the deviation and implementing preventive measures to avoid similar issues in the future. Additionally, documentation is a key aspect of corrective actions, as it provides a traceable history of the deviation and the steps taken to rectify it, which can be invaluable during audits or regulatory inspections.


Corrective actions in HACCP are a critical element in maintaining food safety and quality. They are not merely reactive measures but a proactive approach to preventing deviations from compromising the safety of food products. By identifying and addressing issues at their source, corrective actions play an integral role in ensuring that the food we consume is safe and of the highest quality.


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