HACCP Certification : Hazard analysis and critical control points

Food safety has become a priority for the food industry, commercial catering and distribution companies, in the face of growing consumer demands and increased health standards. The internationally recognized HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) method aims to identify, assess and control food risks at all stages of the chain, thus offering a proactive approach to ensure food quality.

What is HACCP certification ?

HACCP certification is a voluntary initiative by which a company demonstrates that it has established, documented and applied a HACCP system in accordance with the principles of identification, assessment and control of biological hazards, chemical and physical at all stages, from production to consumption. This proactive system aims to ensure food safety.

Based on the global standards of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, this food certification is granted by independent and accredited entities. They attest to the company’s compliance with specific requirements in its field as well as good practices in manufacturing, production or distribution. Thus, the HACCP certification becomes a symbol of trust and quality for customers, suppliers, distributors and health authorities, guaranteeing the control of food risks.

Which organizations offer HACCP certification ?

HACCP certification is granted not by public authorities, but rather by independent and accredited private entities. These bodies have the competence to assess whether the HACCP systems deployed by companies in the food industry, commercial catering, and distribution are in accordance with the required standards. Various organizations offer HACCP certification, each following its own criteria and audit process. Some notable examples include :

eHACCP.org

eHACCP.org is an online HACCP training and certification platform, offering programs accredited by the International HACCP Alliance. The courses offered are interactive and personalized to adapt to various sectors, including production, processing, distribution, and catering. Participants who pass the final exam receive a certificate valid for five years. eHACCP.org also provides advice and support for the implementation and management of the HACCP system.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA, the regulatory agency for food and pharmaceutical products in the United States, offers guidelines and principles for the application of HACCP based on Codex Alimentarius international standards. Although not a certification body, the FDA recognizes HACCP certificates issued by accredited entities that meet its criteria. It also carries out inspections to ensure compliance with HACCP principles within regulated companies.

Michigan State University (MSU)

The MSU is an American institution offering an online food safety program, including HACCP certification after an 8-hour course. The latter addresses the principles and implementation of HACCP, as well as good manufacturing practices. The certificate, recognized by the International HACCP Alliance, is valid for five years. In addition, the SSM offers training and consulting services for the adoption and maintenance of the HACCP system.

What are the specific HACCP certification requirements for my industry ?

HACCP certification is essential for all actors in the food chain, from production to consumption. However, requirements may differ by industry. Good hygiene practice guides (GBPH) are available to adapt the rules and recommendations to each specific area. Here is an overview of the requirements by sector:

Commercial and traditional catering

Commercial and traditional restaurants are required to follow the basic principles of food hygiene, including temperature management, separation of raw and cooked foods, cleanliness of spaces and equipment, and training of staff. A Sanitary Control Plan (PMS) with a HACCP system, control procedures, registrations and corrective actions is also required. Training in food hygiene is essential for at least one manager per establishment.

Collective catering

In collective catering, such as school canteens, hospitals, and retirement homes, the principles are similar to those of traditional catering but require special attention to traceability, labelling, allergen management, and supplier verification. A PMS, including a HACCP system and control measures, must be implemented. Food hygiene training is mandatory for at least one manager per establishment.

Food production, processing and distribution

Companies operating in the production, processing and distribution of food must apply the principles of food hygiene and comply with specific standards according to the category of products (products of animal, dairy, fishing, organic, etc.). The implementation of a PMS with a HACCP system, control procedures, and corrective actions is essential. Food hygiene training is highly recommended for staff.

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What are the steps to obtain HACCP certification ?

Obtaining HACCP certification is a structured approach in several key steps, which may vary slightly depending on the certification entity chosen. Here is a guide to the universal steps required to acquire this certification:

1. Request a quote

Initiate the process by contacting a recognized certification body, specialized in HACCP certification for your specific field of activity. This first step involves submitting a detailed request providing information about your company, product, HACCP system, and special requirements.

In response, the certification body will offer you a tailor-made quote, specifying the costs, the schedule and the modalities of the HACCP certification process.

2. Prepare the audit

This step focuses on the preparation of the certification audit, which will be conducted by an external and competent auditor. It is essential to verify that your HACCP system complies with the principles and standards of HACCP certification. Make sure you have all the necessary documents and evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness.

It is also crucial to engage your staff in the process, through training and awareness of the principles and objectives of the HACCP method.

3. Carrying out the audit

The certification audit takes place in two stages. The first phase verifies the conformity of your HACCP documentation, while the second phase assesses the effective implementation of the HACCP system in the field.

During this audit, the auditor examines the relevance, consistency and effectiveness of your HACCP system, analyzing on-site practices, interviewing your staff, verifying records, and taking samples if necessary.

4. Correcting discrepancies

After the audit, it may be necessary to rectify certain variances identified by the auditor, classified by severity level. They may manifest as major or minor non-conformities, or simply observations.

You will be responsible for implementing corrective actions to resolve these discrepancies and avoid their recurrence, while providing the controller with evidence of these changes, within a time frame appropriate to the nature of the discrepancies noted.

5. Obtaining certification

The fifth and final step to completing your HACCP journey is obtaining certification, which comes after meeting the audit criteria and adjusting any non-compliance. To this end, the certifying entity will grant you the HACCP certificate, official proof that your HACCP system adheres to current standards and regulations.

This certificate has a limited validity, typically three years, during which control audits are carried out regularly to ensure the continuity of compliance of your HACCP system.

How much does a HACCP certification cost ?

The price of obtaining HACCP certification fluctuates according to various key elements such as the size and complexity of your business, the number of establishments involved in the certification process, the category of products you produce or market, the degree of risk related to your sector of activity, as well as the choice of reference and certifying body. Since the cost of HACCP certification is not fixed, an estimate can be made taking into account the following aspects :

The cost of training

Adequate training is essential to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to implement and manage an effective HACCP system. The price of this training varies depending on whether it is delivered online or in person, its duration and content, as well as the number of participants. On average, an online HACCP course costs around 100 euros per person, while a face-to-face session costs around 500 euros per participant.

The cost of the audit

Auditing is a crucial step in obtaining HACCP certification as it allows you to monitor the compliance and effectiveness of your system. The price of the audit is determined by the number of days required for its completion, the daily rate of the auditor, not to mention any travel and accommodation costs. In general, the cost of a HACCP audit is around 1,000 euros per day, although this amount may vary depending on the complexity of your business and the number of sites to audit.

The cost of certification

Obtaining certification represents the end of the process, following a successful audit and necessary adjustments made. The cost associated with certification depends on the selected repository and certification body, as well as the period of validity of the certificate. The average annual cost of a HACCP certification is about 500 euros, but it can fluctuate depending on the requirement and the reputation of the certification body.

To conclude, the total budget dedicated to obtaining a HACCP certification can range from 1500 to 5000 euros annually, depending on the criteria previously mentioned. While a significant investment, it is cost-effective to ensure the quality and safety of your products, build customer loyalty, meet regulatory standards and set you apart from the competition.

How long does it take to obtain HACCP certification ?

The time it takes to obtain HACCP certification varies depending on several key factors, such as the complexity of your business, the degree of development of your HACCP system, the choice of certification body, and many other factors. Although there is no standard time to obtain HACCP certification, it is possible to provide an estimate based on the following main phases:

1. HACCP training

Essential, HACCP training is used to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to establish and manage an effective HACCP system. The duration of this training depends on the chosen method (online or face-to-face), the desired level (level 1, 2 or 3), as well as the field of activity (production, processing, distribution, catering, etc.). In general, online HACCP training lasts about 8 hours, while face-to-face training lasts 16 hours.

2. Audit preparation

As a crucial step, the preparation of the audit ensures that your HACCP system complies with certification standards and that the documents necessary to certify its effectiveness are available. The duration of this preparation varies according to the level of preparation of your company, the number of sites to be certified, the types of products manufactured or distributed, etc. On average, this phase takes 3 months, but can fluctuate depending on the complexity of your business and the help you receive during the process.

3. Carrying out the audit

Auditing is the final step towards HACCP certification, where the compliance and efficiency of your HACCP system is examined in situ. Its duration is determined by the time required for its realization, which depends on the size and complexity of your company, the number of sites to be certified, the types of products, etc. A HACCP audit lasts on average 2 days, but this time may vary depending on the standards and the certification body selected.

The time required to obtain HACCP certification can range from 4 months to 1 year, depending on the elements previously mentioned. Obtaining this certification is a process that requires time, commitment and rigour, but it is a guarantee of quality for your products, strengthens the confidence of your customers, ensures compliance with the standards and regulations in force and sets you apart from the competition.

Should HACCP certification be renewed ?

HACCP certification, typically valid for three years, requires periodic audits to ensure the maintenance of your HACCP system standards. In order to avoid expiry, it is essential to renew this certification by following the initial process. This renewal confirms your HACCP system’s ongoing compliance with current standards and regulations, while taking into account potential changes in your business, products or processes.

This renewal offers the opportunity to stay up to date with the latest innovations and best practices in the field of food safety.

Although a renewal of HACCP certification does not necessarily require new HACCP training (as the training certification is valid indefinitely) Kitchen staff should be retrained every two years to refresh their skills and keep abreast of regulatory updates.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

1

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

2

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

3

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