In the previous lesson you learned how to conduct a hazard analysis. Hazard analysis provides the basis for identifying the critical control points (CCPs) in your process. A CCP is a processing step that is considered absolutely essential or critical to assuring food safety. It is the final step in the process where you will be able to eliminate or reduce a given hazard to a safe level. Without this step, the product will not be good for food. You begin identification of your CCPs by first completing the hazard analysis. In this way you will be able to isolate only the hazards that are significant. Once you do that, you can then identify the control measures for each significant hazard and then finally determine which ones are CCPs. Identifying your CCPs can be done using  the help of a CCP decision tree. This is a series of three, or sometimes four questions requiring a “yes” or “no” answer. A “yes” response will send you to the next question while, a “no” response will tell you to “stop” or modify the process or product.  

Question 1Does this step involve a hazard of sufficient likelihood and severity to warrant its control? The answer to this question will likely be “yes” if you are following the hazard analysis plan, since only control measures associated with significant hazards are evaluated to determine if they are critical. A “no” answer will reveal that the step is not a CCP.

Question 2Does a control measure for the hazard exist at this step? Again, your answer to this question will likely be “yes” if you are following the hazard analysis plan. This is because, you MUST have controls in place for all the hazards that you have identified as significant. If your answer is “no”, it means you have to make some modification to your process or product before you can continue.

Question 3Is control at this step necessary to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the risk of hazard to consumers? If your answer is “yes” it suggests that the step is the final opportunity in the process to bring the hazard under control. It is therefore a CCP. If your answer is “no” then a later step must be able to control the hazard. Therefore the current step is not a CCP. Once you have identified all your CCPs, assign each a number, e.g. CCP1, CCP2, CCP3. These may be added to the process flow diagram.

Reference: Scott, V. N. & Stevenson, K. E. (2006). HACCP – A systematic approach to food safety, 4th edition. Washington, DC: Grocery Manufacturers Association.

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Courtney Simons
Courtney Simons
Author, Dr. Courtney Simons has a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and a Ph. D. in Cereal Science from North Dakota State University.