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HACCP Implementation in a Shared Kitchen Environment

HACCP Implementation in a Shared Kitchen Environment

Outgoing FDA Commissioner Gottlieb released his 2nd letter concerning the legal fate of Cannabidiol (CBD) in the last 6 months

Introduction

This paper examines the challenge of HACCP implementation in a shared kitchen context. The first sections aim to guide a shared kitchen operator in assessing whether they can accommodate user-managed HACCP programs in their facility. The second half of the paper offers recommendations for how a shared kitchen operator may align their operations to support HACCP implementation. These recommendations are also provided in the sections below.

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Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • A Quick Primer on HACCP

  • The Feasibility of HACCP Implementation in a Shared Kitchen

  • When is a HACCP Plan Required?

  • Liability

  • Recommendations for Shared Kitchen

  • Operators

    • General

    • User Relationships

    • Operations

    • Facility Layout

    • Facility Maintenance

  • Conclusion


Recommendations For Shared Kitchen Operators

General

Comply with applicable regulations The first step in supporting HACCP programs is to comply with all applicable health regulations (federal, state, local). If there are outstanding health-code violations, the operator should consider addressing those first.

Understand HACCP Principles The simplest way to do this is to take a HACCP course (they are available online) and read through several HACCP plans. It is absolutely critical for an operator to have a thorough understanding of HACCP so that they can assess the plans and practices of shared kitchen users.


User Relationships

Appendix  1 lists commonly occurring process steps and hazards found in shared kitchens. Food processors can use this as a guide when building their hazard analysis.

Appendix 1 lists commonly occurring process steps and hazards found in shared kitchens. Food processors can use this as a guide when building their hazard analysis.

Set expectations with prospective users An operator should set clear expectations about how their shared kitchen may (or may not) be able to support HACCP implementation. A comprehensive tour of the space and candid explanation about how operations are conducted will support a prospective user in assessing the site’s suitability for their HACCP implementation. If an operator already has HACCP programs operating in their space, they may be able to offer more practical details about how those programs are effectively managed.

Assess each case individually Since each production process entails unique food safety risks and HACCP supports a risk-based approach, the shared kitchen operator must consider each prospective HACCP program individually. At minimum, the operator should consider the final product, the process steps and the associated hazards. Then, the operator will be able to assess whether effective HACCP implementation is feasible in their facility. Note that this oversight is meant to reduce the shared kitchen’s liability exposure, not to micromanage the user’s operations.

Protect public health and liability If a user is producing illegally without a HACCP plan or is implementing their HACCP program improperly, the operator should immediately suspend that processor’s use of the space until they are able to faithfully enact their HACCP program. This should not be viewed as punitive but rather as an effort to protect the shared kitchen and all of the users operating in the space.


Operations

Good news! HACCP is most easily implemented in shared kitchens where the operator has a “hands off” approach. Here’s why: HACCP requires the food processor to maintain tight control over their process steps and keep records proving that those processes were performed correctly.

If the shared kitchen operator provides services that are related to food safety— for example, cleaning processing areas on a recurring basis— the user working under a HACCP plan cannot (legally) trust that those activities are being performed properly. Instead, the user must confirm that those cleaning activities are effective and verify that they are being performed according to schedule and keep records to prove it. Maintaining this kind of coordination with the shared kitchen operator is sufficiently difficult that most users implementing a HACCP program choose to conduct all sanitation activities themselves— even if the operator is already providing those services. Below are some specific recommendations for building HACCP-aligned operations in shared kitchens:

Define who is responsible for maintaining prerequisite programs (PRPs) Operators should define who is responsible for maintaining prerequisite programs and share this information with users before they begin operating in the space. This way, both the operator and user understand what systems they are accountable for maintaining and where they can demand accountability. PRPs may be grouped into three broad categories:

Operator’s responsibility: This refers to prerequisite programs which the operator is responsible for maintaining and documenting. These programs typically favor centralized management, and may include:

◈ Pest control

When dedicated cold storage spaces are not available, lockable, vented totes can minimize contamination risks.

When dedicated cold storage spaces are not available, lockable, vented totes can minimize contamination risks.

◈ Maintenance of shared equipment

◈ Waste management

◈ Clean water supply

User’s responsibility: This refers to PRPs which the user must enact and maintain on their own. Typically, these programs are unique to each food processor and may include:

◈ Product traceability

◈ Supplier verification

◈ Food handling practices

Overlapping Responsibility: This refers to PRPs that may be maintained by both the operator and the user. For example,

◈ Control of employee health -- both the operator and user have employees who must comply with employee health policies.

◈ Allergen control -- The operator may control allergens through the structural zoning of space while users must maintain allergen control through their production process and storage methods.

◈ Sanitation activities -- The operator may offer a basic sanitation program while the user conducts additional sanitation activities on their own.

By defining responsibilities and enforcing accountability (even among their own staff), the operator protects the kitchen from a “tragedy of the commons” scenario where facility conditions deteriorate over time.

Allow users to retain process control Users should be allowed to pursue a high degree of autonomy so that they can maintain total control of their process and ensure their pre-requisite programs are effective. Any “concierge” services or prerequisite programs offered by the shared kitchen operator should be structured so that a business can “opt out” and conduct those activities themselves, according to their HACCP plan.

Make food safety records available: When the operator performs a prerequisite program related to food safety, a record of that activity should be produced and made available for users to access. This may include:

◈ Sanitation records

◈ Records of equipment maintenance and calibration

◈ Refrigeration logs

◈ MSDS records and product specs for all chemicals/consumables onsite

◈ Pest control reports

◈ Receiving logs (if raw ingredients are received by the operator on behalf of the user)

Strive for operational consistency and communicate changes A processor’s HACCP plan will define not only the details of their specific process but also details pertaining to the overall facility and the prerequisite programs applied by the operator. In the same way that a change to the business’s production process would require them to update their HACCP documentation, so would operational changes implemented by the shared kitchen operator at the site level.

While it is important for operators to continuously improve their systems, it is also important to acknowledge that each user’s HACCP documentation must reflect these changes once they occur. For this reason, the operator should communicate any upcoming changes to food safety systems with the entire user base. This will give users an opportunity to consider those changes and adjust their HACCP plans accordingly.


Facility Layout

Physical separation between workstations is a simple solution for minimizing cross contamination.

Physical separation between workstations is a simple solution for minimizing cross contamination.

The arrangement of workstations, storage, and utility areas in a shared kitchen can be optimized to support HACCP implementation. While it may be prohibitively expensive to undertake large scale infrastructure improvements, an operator may be able to address hazards in the facility layout by adjusting the use-of-space. Fortunately, HACCP is a flexible system that allows a processor to minimize hazards using any method that is safe and effective. An operator may consider the following strategies:

Offer dedicated access processing spaces If possible, an operator should offer dedicated-access processing spaces that a single business can occupy long term. This arrangement allows users to operate with high levels of process control, favoring a simpler HACCP program.

Use distance and barriers to minimize contamination risks in shared spaces If businesses operate in a shared space, an operator can structurally mitigate contamination risk through physical barriers (e.g. partitions) or a buffer zone between processing areas. Avoid layouts where prep tables are directly adjacent to each other and where cross contamination may easily occur.

Zone food processing and storage activities based on risk profile An operator may zone the space based on the types of risks presented by processing activities. This structurally minimizes opportunities for contamination. Types of zoning include:

◈ Allergen-based zoning: This may confine certain allergens to specific zones

◈ Hygienic zoning: Higher risk processing activities are confined to areas where higher standards of hygiene and sanitation are in place.

◈ Ingredient-based zoning: The use of certain ingredients are confined to specific zones, based on associated microbiological hazards

Offer dedicated-access storage spaces An operator may offer dedicated-access storage spaces to protect stored goods from interference or contamination. Possible solutions may include individually lockable storage closets or cages. In cold storage, dedicated reach-in refrigerators allow for individual temperature control, product security, and minimization of contamination risk from other users’ products.


Facility Maintenance

Implementing a HACCP program requires the food processor to assess any risk that may occur— including hazards that originate from the building itself. Even in a conventional food processing facility, it is common for the renter to assess a hazard that the only the building owner can repair, such as a leaky roof. In the shared kitchen environment, the user has even less control over facility conditions than a food processor operating in a conventionally rented space, and this may be the cause of some anxiety. Below are some ways that a shared kitchen operator can support HACCP programs through effective facility maintenance.

Conduct professional repairs Repairs should be conducted by professionals and DIY-fixes (e.g. duct-taped pipes) should be avoided. Because these types of temporary repairs may introduce a food safety hazard, users operating under a HACCP plan will be unable to use that piece of equipment until it is completely repaired and the hazard is eliminated.

Align facility conditions with cGMPs In order to create a safe environment for food processing, operators should meet the Current Good Manufacturing Practices outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. Regardless of whether the users in the space are FDA-regulated, this section provides a widely accepted set of standards for safe food processing. Below are several linked guides and the original text of the regulation:

Additional Resources

FDA Reader Guides:

Plants & Grounds

Sanitary Operations

Equipment & Utensils

Regulation Summary

Source Texts:

Code of Federal Regulations §117 CGMPs

 
Corrections vs. Corrective Actions in Food Processing
Corrective Action Blog Post Image.png

What You Need to Know

Correction

A correction means taking action in a timely manner to identify and correct a minor and isolated problem that does not directly impact product safety.

Examples of corrections include:

  • Re-cleaning the production line if it appears dirty after the first clean.

  • An employee is asked to leave the production area and put on the proper attire before re-entering the production area.

  • The temperature of a walk-in refrigerator is adjusted because it is a time of high traffic and the temperature is approaching the critical limit.

Corrections occur in the moment and don't require any documentation

Corrective Action

A corrective action is a procedure that must be taken if a corrective action is not properly implemented. This must be documented and the record should describe:

  • What occurred

  • How the problem was corrected

  • How it will be avoided in the future

  • What was done with the product in question

Examples where corrective action is required include:

  • A sample of canned salsa is tested and the pH exceeds the requirement of <4.3.

  • A refrigerator is found to have exceeded the temperature requirement of ≤41ºF for several hours.

  • The producer of bottled juice realizes that during the last production run, numerous bottles were not properly sealed by the capping machine, possibly due to defective packaging.

For more about corrective actions, see our full guide


Correction or Corrective Action?

The following examples illustrate how an operator may choose between a correction and a corrective action


Scenario Type of Action Required Why Recommended Action
Cookies on a conveyer oven are finished in 8 minutes instead of the required 10 minute cook time Corrective Action The cook step is (presumably) a preventive control used to kill bacteria present in raw cookie dough. Because the product failed to achieve the 10 minute cook time, then the preventive control has failed and a corrective action is required. 1. Adjust the belt temperature to reseet to 10 minute cook time.
2. Test to confirm the belt speed has increased the cook time to 10 minutes.
3. Re-cook the cookies for an additional 2 minutes (or discard)
4. Record this on a corrective action form.
Cookies on a conveyer oven are completed in 12 minutes instead of the required 10 minute cook time Correction Since the product was overcooked, it still achieved the preventive control that requires a >10 minute cook time. Adjust the belt speed to reduce the cook time to 10 minutes. Consider testing the overcooked product for quality
Sheet pans are observed to be unclean immediately after being run through the dishwasher Correction This is a minor problem that poses no risk to the safety of the food if it is corrected. Re-run the dishes through the dishwasher and confirm they are clean.
The dispenser for dishwasher sanitizer chemical is discovered to be empty after a day of production Corrective Action It is possible that many utensils and dishes were used in production without having been sanitized. This directly impacts food safety of product that was produced and so corrective action should be taken. 1. Refill the sanitizer chemical in the dish machine and confirm it is being applied during the cycle.
2. Assess why the sanitizer ran out and whether chemical levels should be checked more frequently to avoid this problem recurring.
3. Evaluate the food that contacted the un-sanitized utensils/dishes and determine whether it should be discarded, re-worked or served. If the food cannot be proven to be safe then it should be discarded.
 
Validation

What You Need To Know:

  • Validation answers the question “How do you know it works?”

  • You must validate that the preventive controls that you implement actually work.

  • Validation activities includes using scientific and technical evidence (or conducting your own studies)

Example of Validation: Collecting scientific research, and conducting tests to prove that the cooking temperature in your recipe is effective in killing the harmful bacteria in the product.

Hint: you can find information to validate many food processing practices on the FDA website.


What is Validation?

Validation means obtaining and evaluating scientific and technical evidence that a control measure, combination of control measures, or the food safety plan as a whole, when properly implemented, is capable of effectively controlling the identified hazards.

21 CFR 117(c)(1)(i)

When is Validation Required?

You are required to validate every preventive control you are implementing. This means that if you use cooking as a means to kill bacteria, then you need to show that the time and temperature are a valid method for killing that bacteria type. This can often be achieved by referencing FDA guidance materials.

You are not required to validate the following types of preventive controls:

  • Sanitation Preventive Controls

  • Food Allergen Controls

  • Recall Plan

Who Conducts Validation?

All validation activities must be performed by a preventive controls qualified individual.


When do I need to validate my preventive controls?

You must validate your preventive controls:

  • Within 90 days of beginning production or there must be written justification for why if  >90 days after production begins.

  • Whenever a change is made that could impact how a hazard is controlled.

  • Whenever the food safety plan is reanalyzed.

What Part of My Food Safety Plan Require Validation?

Some parts of your food safety plan do not need to be validated. Sanitation activities, for example, do not need to be validated because most people use a small set of scientifically proven processes (i.e. soap and water, common chemical sanitizers). As a result, there is no need to require each business to prove their sanitation practices actually work.

The following activities do not require validation

  • Food allergen controls

  • Sanitation controls

  • Recall plan

  • Supply chain program

  • Other preventive controls if the PCQI prepares the written justification that a validation is not applicable based the nature of the hazard and the preventive control.


 
 

This Article is For You if…

∆ You are developing a food safety plan or HACCP plan.

∆ You have implemented a preventive control or identified a hazard that requires a preventive control


FDA Regulation on Validation


More About Food Safety Plans

More Posts


Verification

If you are unsure whether corrective action is required, see Verification vs. Validation

What You Need To Know

  • Verification means confirming that other parts of the food safety plan have been undertaken as specified.

  • Verification can take the form of a supervisor regularly reviewing records and verifying them with a signature.


What is Verification?

Verification means the application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring, to determine whether a control measure or combination of control measures is or has been operating as intended and to establish the validity of the food safety plan.

21 CFR 117(c)(1)(i)

Examples of Verification

Common examples of verification include:

  • Reviewing cooking records to confirm the required temperature and cook time was reached

  • Reviewing refrigeration records to confirm food was held sufficiently cold

  • Observation that employees are following good food-handling practices

  • Calibrating thermometers – this verifies that they are reading properly

  • Sampling your own product for pathogens to verify that your process was faithfully performed

  • Environmental monitoring – testing your production space for pathogens living on surfaces, in drains, etc.

  • Supplier Verification – reviewing a supplier’s records to confirm they are faithful to their food safety practices and claims.

When is Verification Required?

All records which monitor a preventive control must be verified within 7 days of their creation.

All corrective action records must be reviewed within 7 days of their creation.

Other verification records, such as instrument calibration, product testing, and environmental monitoring, must be verified “within a reasonable amount of time” as determined by the producer.

Who Conducts Verification?

All verification activities must be performed by a preventive controls qualified individual (PCQI).


What You Need to Do:

  • Verify that your preventive controls are being implemented and monitored. You can do this by checking that monitoring records were completed.

  • Verify that corrective actions are taken when necessary and that the right decisions are being made in relation to any process deviations.

  • You must keep your verification records on file (digital is fine)


 
 

This Article is For You if…

∆ You are developing a food safety plan or HACCP plan.

∆ You have implemented a preventive control or have identified a hazard that requires a preventive control

∆ You take any records as part of your food safety plan


Resources

Verification Log Template

Verification Log Template

FDA Regulation on Verification

FDA Regulation on Verification


More About Food Safety Plans

More Posts


Corrective Action

If you are unsure whether corrective action is required, see Corrective Action vs. Correction

What You Need To Know:

  • Corrective Action is a response that must be taken if a preventive control is not properly implemented.

  • Corrective Actions must be written and are often completed using a standard form (see our free Corrective Action template)


What You Need to Do:

1. Write Corrective Actions Procedures

You must establish and implement written corrective action procedures. These procedures must describe the steps to be taken to ensure that:

  • Appropriate action is taken to correct a problem associated with a preventive control.

  • Appropriate action is taken to reduce the likelihood that the problem will recur.

  • All affected food is evaluated for safety

  • All affected food is prevented from entering commerce.

2. Take Corrective Action When it is Required

When to Take Corrective Action:

You must take a corrective action if

  • A preventive control fails and a corrective action hasn't been established.

  • A preventive control is found to be ineffective

  • Verification records are found to be incomplete or improper decisions were made about corrective action

3. Keep Records of Your Corrective Actions

All corrective actions taken in this section must be documented. We recommend using a pre-written form so that it’s easy to complete and no details are missing. Check out our corrective action template here

Corrective actions must also be verified (See Verification or §117.155)


 
 

This Article is For You if…

∆ You are developing a food safety plan or HACCP plan.

∆ You have implemented a preventive control or identified a hazard that requires a preventive control


Resources

FDA Regulation on Corrective Actions

FDA Regulation on Corrective Actions

Corrective Action Template

Corrective Action Template


More About Food Safety Plans

More Posts


Monitoring

These requirements are a part of our comprehensive Food Safety Plan Guide

What You Need To Know:

  • Monitoring means observing some activity in your production— such as checking the temperature of your walk-in refrigerator

  • Monitoring is required for all preventive controls to ensure they are implemented properly.

  • You must have written procedures for how and how often you will monitor preventive controls.

  • You must monitor preventive controls enough to ensure they are being performed.

Record keeping Requirements

  1. You must document your monitoring actions, store them, and also verify them (see verification)

  2. Exception records are acceptable type of monitoring record (this means records are only taken when a deviation occurs.) For example, a refrigeration log may shows records only when the temperature is outside the acceptable range.


Resources

FDA Regulation on Monitoring Preventive Controls

FDA Regulation on Monitoring Preventive Controls

 
Preventive Controls

These requirements are a part of our comprehensive Food Safety Plan Guide

What You Need To Know:

  • A preventive control is a strategy implemented to eliminate a hazard in a food manufacturing environment

  • You must identify and implement preventive controls when you identify a hazard that is reasonably likely to cause injury to a customer if left unaddressed.

  • Preventive controls include Critical Control Points and other types of controls.

  • Preventive controls must be written

Types of Preventive Controls

Process Controls:

These are procedures and processes that are used to control parameters of processing (i.e. acidifying, refrigerating, cooking.) They must be written in a way that is specific to your process and they must include:

  • parameters associated with controlling the hazard (i.e. if you are using cooking as a process control, then you must include the required cook temperature and cook time)

  • The maximum or minimum values required to control the hazard.


Food Allergen Controls

These include processes to control food allergens. These are implemented to:

  • Protect food from allergen cross contact

  • Label food properly with allergens to ensure it isn't misbranded


Sanitation Controls:

These are practices to ensure the facility is kept clean and to minimize biological hazards. They relate to:

  • Cleanliness of food-contact surfaces (equipment, utensils, tables)

  • Prevention of contamination of food from dirty sources (i.e. dirty people, dirty food, dirty packaging, dirty raw ingredients)


Supply Chain Controls:

Supply Chain Controls are described fully in Part G


Other Controls

You may have other types of controls (i.e. hygiene training and current good manufacturing practices)

What To Do If You Implement a Preventive Control

If you implement one or more preventive controls then you must conduct the following activities for each one:

  1. Monitoring activities

  2. Corrective actions

  3. Verification activities

Circumstances Where Preventive Controls Are Not Required

You aren't required to implement preventive controls if any of the following apply:

  1. The food cannot be consumed without application of an appropriate control (i.e. coffee beans cannot be consumed without pouring boiling water on them, which would kill any bacteria on the bean. By preparing coffee the consumer is inherently applying the necessary control)

  2. You rely on your customer, who is subject to this subpart, to ensure that the hazard is mitigated. You must:

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that the customer is following the procedures you have provided, which will eliminate the hazard.

3. You rely on the customer who is not subject to this subpart to eliminate the hazard. You must:

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that the customer is following the procedures you have provided, which will eliminate the hazard.

4. You rely on the customer to provide assurance that the food will be processed to control the hazard by a subsequent entity in the supply chain

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that your customer will:

A. Disclose in documents accompanying the food that it is "not processed to control [identify hazard]"

B. Will only sell to another entity that agrees in writing that it will mitigate the hazard and obtain similar written assurance from subsequent customers.

5. You have established and implemented a system that ensures control of the hazards in your product, at the distribution step.

Note: You must document any circumstance (related to the section above) that applies to you, including written assurances from customers.


 
 

This Article is For You if…

∆ You manage a facility that makes, holds, or packs food.

∆ You are developing a food safety plan or HACCP plan.

∆ You have identified a hazard in your hazard analysis

∆ You are subject to Part 117 Subpart C (very small businesses are exempt from this requirement)


Resources

Food Safety Plan Templates

Food Safety Plan Templates


More About Food Safety Plans

More Posts


References

117 Subpart F: Record Keeping

What You Need to Know

Record Keeping Blog Image.png
  • Records can be electronic or paper.

  • They must have:

    • Plant name / address

    • The date/time

    • Product name

    • Signature/initials

    • Actual information/observations not summaries

  • You must store records onsite for at least 2 years

  • You must be able to retrieve records within 24 hours.

  • All records must be made available upon request

All of our food safety plan templates are aligned with this section.

Summary of Subpart F: Record Keeping

Below is a summary of Subpart F so that you can get a deeper sense of the requirements. If you want to read the original text, check out the source texts, linked below.

This text is aligned with the coding used in the FDA Regulations so that you can hunt down the corresponding section with ease. For example,  you have a question about my wording in §117.305 (f) (2) then just look up this same code in the CFR.

§117.301 Records Subject to the Requirements of this Subpart

This section quickly states two points, neither of which are terribly important:

  1. Only the food safety plan must be dated and signed when created and updated.

  2. If a business is applying for a small business exemption (aka "Qualified Facility exemption") the standards for those records is less than what is described in this section.

§117.305 General Requirements Applying to Record

Records must:

a. Be kept as originals, true copies (i.e. scans, photocopies) or electronic records.

b. Contain the actual values and observations, not summaries.

c. Be accurate, unchangeable and legible

d. be created in real-time with the activity being documented.

e. Be as detailed as necessary

f. Include:

  1. information about the plant identity

  2. The date (and time, if necessary)

  3. Signature or initials of the observer

  4. Product name and lot code, if applicable

g. Electronic records required by other regulations may be subject to the requirements in Part 11 (This is the FDA section about electronic records, it unlikely applies to your business if you are following this statute)

§117.310 Additional Requirements Applying to the Food Safety Plan

The owner or operator of the plant must sign and date the food safety plan when it is first authored and whenever it is modified.

§117.315 Requirements for Record Retention:

a.

  1. All records must be retained onsite for 2 years

  2. A qualified facility must retain records attesting to their exempt status.

a. Small businesses operating under a Qualified Facility exemption must retain records to support that they apply for the exemption (typically 3 years of records)

b. Records that relate to equipment or processes that are no longer used must be retained for 2 years after their discontinuation.

c. You may store records offsite (not food safety plan) if you can retrieve them within 24 hours.

d. You can store a food safety plan offsite if the plant is closed

§117.320 Requirements for Official Review

All records must be made available upon request

§117.325 Public Disclosure

Your records may be disclosed by the FDA in accordance with Chapter 20 of the CFR

§117.330 Use of Existing Records

a. Existing records used for other purposes don't have to be duplicated to satisfy these requirements.

b. The records don't have to be kept in one set.

§117.335 Special Requirements Applicable to a Written Assurance

Any written assurance (which is required by other parts of the code) must contain the date and the names/signatures of the officials making the attestation.

Part 117 -- Subpart F: Requirements Applying to Records That Must Be Established and Maintained

 
117 Subpart C: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls

This is a regulation summary For a more general guide to Food Safety Plans, start here

What You Need to Know:

This section outlines the pre-requisite for a food safety plan and associated operational and documentation requirements.

binding-books-bound-272980.jpg

Summary of Subpart C: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls

Below is a summary of Subpart C so that you can get a quick sense of the requirements. If you want to read the original text, check out the source texts, linked below.

This text is aligned with the coding used in the FDA Regulations so that you can hunt down the corresponding section with ease. For example,  you have a question about my wording in §117.126 (a) (2) then just look up this same code in the CFR.


§117.126 Food Safety Plan

a. Requirement for a food safety plan:

  1. You must have a written and implemented food safety plan

  2. It must be prepared or overseen by a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual

b. Contents of a food safety plan

It must include the following, in writing:

  1. A hazard analysis

  2. Preventive controls (if you identified a hazard in your hazard analysis that you deem requires a preventive control)

  3. Supply chain program

  4. Recall plan

  5. Procedures for monitoring your preventive controls

  6. Corrective Action Procedures

  7. Verification procedures

c. Records: The records generated are subject to regulations under Subpart F. (i.e. you must store them either in print or electronically)

§117.130 Hazard Analysis

a. Requirement for a hazard analysis:

1. You must conduct a hazard analysis for each type of food manufactured, processed, packed, or held at your facility.

2. The hazard analysis must be written.

b. Hazard Identification: This must consider

1. known or reasonable hazards, including:

i. Biological Hazards (bacteria, parasites, etc.)

ii. Chemical hazards (i.e. toxins, pesticides, food allergens)

iii. Physical hazards (i.e. stone, glass, metal fragments)

2. Hazards that could be present in the food because:

i. the hazard occurs naturally (i.e. toxins in fish)

ii. The hazard may be accidentally introduced (jewelry from employee falls into food)

iii. The hazard may be introduced intentionally for economic gain (i.e. sabotage by a competitor)

c. Hazard Evaluation: 

i. the hazard analysis must evaluate the hazards identified to assess the severity of illness or injury that would occur and the probability that it would occur if left unaddressed.

ii. The hazard evaluation must consider environmental pathogens whenever a ready-to-eat (RTE) food is exposed to the environment before packaging.

2. The hazard analysis must consider these effects on the food:

i. formulation of the food

ii. condition and design of the facility

iii. Raw materials and other ingredients

iv. Transportation practices

v. Processing procedures

vi. Packaging and labeling activities

vii. Storage and distribution

viii. intended use of the product

ix. Sanitation, including employee hygiene

x. any other relevant factors (i.e. weather, natural toxins)

§117.135 Preventive Controls

a.

  1. You must identify and implement preventive controls when required by your hazard analysis.

  2. Preventive controls include: Critical Control Points and other controls.

b. Preventive controls must be written

c. Preventive controls include:

  1. Process Controls: These are procedures and processes that are used to control parameters of processing (i.e. acidifying, refrigerating, cooking.) They must be written in a way that is specific to your process and they must include:

i. parameters associated with controlling the hazard (i.e. if you are using cooking as a process control, then you must include the required cook temperature and cook time)

ii. The maximum or minimum values required to control the hazard.

2. Food Allergen Controls include processes to control food allergens. These are implemented to:

i. Protect food from allergen cross contact

ii. Label food properly with allergens to ensure it isn't misbranded

3. Sanitation Controls: Practices to ensure the facility is kept clean and to minimize biological hazards. These relate to:

i. Cleanliness of food-contact surfaces (equipment, utensils, tables)

ii. Prevention of contamination of food from dirty sources (i.e. dirty people, dirty food, dirty packaging, dirty raw ingredients)

4. Supply Chain Controls: This is described fully in Part G

5. Recall Plan: You are required to have a recall plan (see below)

6. Other Controls: You may have other types of controls (i.e. hygiene training and current good manufacturing practices)


§117.136 Circumstances in which preventive controls are not required

a. Circumstances You aren't required to implement preventive controls if any of the following apply:

  1. The food cannot be consumed without application of an appropriate control (i.e. coffee beans cannot be consumed without pouring boiling water on them, which would kill any bacteria on the bean)

  2. You rely on your customer, who is subject to this subpart, to ensure that the hazard is mitigated. You must:

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that the customer is following the procedures you have provided, which will eliminate the hazard.

3. You rely on the customer who is not subject to this subpart to eliminate the hazard. You must:

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that the customer is following the procedures you have provided, which will eliminate the hazard.

4. You rely on the customer to provide assurance that the food will be processed to control the hazard by a subsequent entity in the supply chain

i. Disclose in writing that the food is "not processed to control [identify hazard]" and

ii. Annually obtain written assurance that your customer will:

A. Disclose in documents accompanying the food that it is "not processed to control [identify hazard]"

B. Will only sell to another entity that agrees in writing that it will mitigate the hazard and obtain similar written assurance from subsequent customers.

5. You have established and implemented a system that ensures control of the hazards in your product, at the distribution step.

b. Records: You must document any circumstance (related to a., above) that applies to you, including written assurances from customers.


§117.139 Recall Plan

If your food has a hazard that requires a preventive control,

a. You  must establish a written recall plan.

b. The recall plan must include a procedure for a recall scenario and assign responsibility for taking those steps. It must address how to:

  1. Directly notify recipients of the product being recalled and how to dispose of/return the food.

  2. Notify the public about any hazard in the food, when this is required to protect public health.

  3. Conduct effectiveness checks to verify the recall is carried out.

  4. Dispose of recalled food.


§117.140 Preventive Control Management Components

a. You must conduct the following activities for each of your preventive controls:

  1. monitoring activities

  2. corrective actions

  3. verification activities

b. You must conduct the following activities for your supply-chain program:

  1. corrective actions, especially related to supplier non-conformance.

  2. Review of records

  3. Re-analysis of your supply chain program over time and as it changes.

c. You do not need to conduct the following activities for your recall plan: monitoring, corrective actions, verification activities.


§117.145 Monitoring

as appropriate to the nature of the preventive control, you must implement

a. Written Procedures: You must have written procedures for how and how often you will monitor preventive controls.

b. Monitoring: You must monitor preventive controls enough to ensure they are being peformed.

c. Records: 

  1. You must document your monitoring actions and verify this (see §117.165)

  2. Exception Records: You can use exception records (i.e. the record only shows when a deviation occured.) For example, a log monitoring refrigeration may only show records when the temperature is unacceptable


§117.159 Corrective Actions and Corrections

a. Corrective Action Procedures: 

  1. You must establish and implement written corrective action procedures. They must address:

i. the presence of a pathogen in a ready-to-eat product

ii. the presence of an environmental pathogen detected.

2. Corrective Action Procedures must describe the steps to be taken to ensure that:

i. appropriate action is taken to correct a problem associated with a preventive control.

ii. Appropriate action is taken to reduce the likelihood that the problem will recur.

iii. All affected food is evaluated for safety

iv. All affected food is prevented from entering commerce.

b. Corrective Action in the Event of an unanticipated food safety problem:

  1. You must follow the procedure in (b)(2) if

i. a preventive control fails and a corrective action hasn't been established.

ii. a preventive control is found to be ineffective

iii. Verification records are found to be incomplete or improper decisions were made about corrective action

2. If any of the circumstances above in (b) (1) apply, you must:

i. Take corrective action, Ensure it doesn't happen again, re-evaluate all food for safety.

ii. reanalyze your food safety plan to see if changes are required.

c. Corrections: You don't need to follow sections (a) and (b) above if

  1. You take action to correct a minor and isolated problem, insofar as these are not related to allergen controls or sanitation controls.

  2. You take action in a timely manner to correct a minor and isolated problem insofar as it doesn't directly impact product safety

d. Records: All corrective actions taken in this section must be documented. Corrective actions must also be verified according to §117.155


§117.155 Verification

Note: The Verification process is one that verifies various other parts of the plans have been undertaken as specified. This can take the form of a supervisor regularly reviewing records and verifying them with a signature.

a. Verification Activities: As it relates to a preventive control, you must verify

  1. That the preventive control is valid

  2. that monitoring is being conducted as required.

  3. that appropriate decisions are being made in relation to corrective action.

  4. that the preventive control is implemented and effective.

  5. the reanalysis of your preventive controls (as your process changes or at minimum every 3 years)

b. Documentation: All verification activities must be documented in records.

§117.160 Validation

a. You must validate that the preventive controls implemented actually work.

b. Your validation must:

1. Be performed by a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI)

i. Within 90 days of beginning production or there must be written justification for why if  >90 days after production begins.

ii. Whenever a change is made that could impact how a hazard is controlled.

iii. Whenever the food safety plan is reanalyzed.

2. Must include scientific and technical evidence (or conducting your own studies) to determine whether preventive controls will control the hazards.

c. You do not need to validate:

  1. Food allergen controls

  2. Sanitation controls

  3. Recall plan

  4. Supply chain program

  5. Other preventive controls if the PCQI prepares the written justification that a validation is not applicable based the nature of the hazard and the preventive control.


§117.165 Verification of Implementation and Effectiveness

a. Verification Activities: You must verify that preventive controls are consistently implemented and effective. This includes doing the following:

  1. Calibrating instruments for accuracy

  2. Product testing

  3. Environmental monitoring

  4. Review of records to ensure they are complete and activities were performed according to the plan

i. Records of monitoring and corrective action must occur within 7 days (or provide a written justification for why not)

ii. Other records (calibration, supplier, product testing) must occur in a reasonable amount of time.

b. Written Procedures: The following activities must be written:

  1. The method and frequency of calibrating tools

  2. Product testing. These procedures must be scientifically valid, they must identify the tests conducted, the methods used, the pathogens, the laboratory conducting the testing, and the corrective action procedures.

  3. Environmental monitoring must be: scientifically valid, identify the locations and sites to be tested, the timing and frequency of these samplings, the tests conducted and methods used, the laboratory, and the corrective action procedures.


§117.170 Reanalysis

a. You must reanalyze your food safety plan every 3 years.

b. You must reanalyze your plan whenever:

  1. A change creates a new hazard or increases an existing hazard

  2. Whenever you become aware of a new hazard

  3. Whenever appropriate after an unanticipated food safety problem.

  4. When you find a part of your plan or a preventive control is ineffective

c. You must complete the reanalysis

  1. before any changes in activities OR

  2. Within 90 days of the beginning of production for a new product (or >90 days if written justification is provided)

d.  You must also document the basis for the conclusion that no revisions are required.

e. A preventive controls qualified individual must oversee this reanalysis.

f. You must conduct a reanalysis when the FDA determines necessary and when there are new developments in scientific understandings.


§117.180 Requirements Applicable to a Preventive Control Qualified Individual and a Qualified Auditor

a. One or more PQCI must do or oversee the following:

  1. preparation of the food safety plan

  2. validation of the preventive controls

  3. written justification for >90 day time frame for validation

  4. Determination that validation is not necessary.

  5. Review of records

  6. Written justification for exceeding 7 day time frame for reviewing records.

  7. reanalysis of food safety plan

  8. determination that reanalysis can be completed in a time frame that >90 days of the production of the new food being produced.

b. A qualified auditor must consult an onsite audit:

c. 

  1. To be a PCQI, one must have completed training equivalent to that developed by the FDA or be qualified through job experience. This individual may or may not be an employee of the facility.

  2. To be a qualified auditor requires technical expertise achieved through training, education, or experience.

d. All training in the development and applications of preventive controls must be documented in records.


§117.190 Implementation Records Required for this Subpart

a. You must establish records regarding the implementation of a food safety plan, including:

  1. Documentation for not establishing a preventive control (you can do this in the hazard analysis using our template)

  2. Records documenting the monitoring of preventive controls

  3. Records documenting corrective actions

  4. Records that document verification, as related to

i. Validation

ii. Verification of monitoring

iii. Verification of corrective actions

iv. Calibration of process monitoring and verification instruments

v. Product testing

vi. Environmental monitoring

vii. Records review

5. Records documenting the supply chain program

6. Records documenting training for the Preventive Conrols Qualified Individual and qualified auditor.

b. These records are subject to requirements in subpart F.


 
 

This Article Is For You If…

∆ You manage a facility that makes, holds, or packs food.

∆ You are subject to Part 117 Subpart C (very small businesses are exempt from this requirement)

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FDA Regulation Title 21 — Part 117 — Subpart C Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls

FDA Regulation Title 21 — Part 117 — Subpart C Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls

Verification vs. Validation
Verification vs. validation.png

What You Need to Know:

Verification means conducting a review to confirm a process was performed correctly. Verification answers the question "How do you know it actually happened?"

Example: Reviewing production records to confirm that the product was heated to the temperature dictated in the recipe.

Validation refers to the requirement that a food processor use scientifically proven methods to control a hazard. Validation answers the question "How do you know it works?"

Example: Collecting scientific research, and conducting tests to prove that the cooking temperature in the recipe is effective in killing the harmful bacteria in the product.

Why Verification and Validation are Important:

Both verification and validation are required or else food-safe outcomes may not be achieved.


Validation Without Verification...

Hand washing with soap is a valid method for removing dirt/grime from hands. However, if verification does not occur and employees do not actually wash their hands, then it doesn't matter how scientifically-proven the strategy is.

Verification Without Validation...

Hand washing without soap is not a valid method for cleaning hands. Even if a manager verifies that hand washing is occurring as required, it doesn't matter because hand washing without soap is not a valid method for cleaning hands.


Verification

Verification means the application of methods, procedures, tests and other evaluations, in addition to monitoring, to determine whether a control measure or combination of control measures is or has been operating as intended and to establish the validity of the food safety plan.

21 CFR 117(c)(1)(i)

Examples of Verification

  • Reviewing cooking records to confirm the required temperature and cook time was reached

  • Reviewing refrigeration records to confirm food was held sufficiently cold

  • Observation that employees are following good food-handling practices

  • Calibrating thermometers - this verifies that they are reading properly

  • Sampling your own product for pathogens to verify that your process was faithfully performed

  • Environmental monitoring - testing your production space for pathogens living on surfaces, in drains, etc.

  • Supplier Verification - reviewing a supplier's records to confirm they are faithful to their food safety practices and claims.

When is Verification Required?

All records which monitor a preventive control must be verified within 7 days of their creation.

All corrective action records must be reviewed within 7 days of their creation.

Other verification records, such as instrument calibration, product testing, and environmental monitoring, must be verified "within a reasonable amount of time" as determined by the producer.

Who Conducts Verification?

All verification activities must be performed by a preventive controls qualified individual.

Examples of Verification

Example of Preventive Control Verification Required? Why? Verification Example
Cooking Chicken to a temp of 165ºF as a preventive control to reduce the hazard of Salmonella Bacteria Yes The cook step is a preventive control. Therefore, the production record containing the cook temp/time must be verified A manager reads the cook log and confirms that all chicken cooked that day was cooked to 165º
Fermentation and low pH are used as a method to prevent bacterial growth in pickled cucumbers stored at room temperature Yes Low pH is a preventive control applied to stop bacteria growth. Therefore, the pH records must be verified. A manager reviews the daily production records to confirm the pH was below the required threshold in all batches. If there is a deviation, the manger verifies that the appropriate corrective action was taken.
Preservatives are used to kill harmful bacteria in chicken meat so that it can be consumed raw Yes This is a preventive control and must be verified A manager confirms that the appropriate level of preservative was used to render the product safe. Additionally, in such a high-risk scenario, it may be advisable to test the chicken for pathogens.
Chlorine sanitizer used to sanitize dishes Possibly Depending on the nature of the product, it may not be a requirement to verify that the appropriate concentration of sanitizer was used. Manager verifies a record showing that the sanitizer was tested and the chemical concentration fell into the designated range.
Items containing peanuts are stored in different-colored containers from non-peanut products No There is no requirement to verify the implementation of storage practices to mitigate an allergen concern, although it may be a good idea. A manager may inspect storage spaces occasionally to confirm that practices are being followed to avoid allergen contact.

Validation:

Validation means obtaining and evaluating scientific and technical evidence that a control measure, combination of control measures, or the food safety plan as a whole, when properly implemented, is capable of effectively controlling the identified hazards.

21 CFR 117(c)(1)(i)

When is Validation Required?

You are required to validate every preventive control you are implementing. This means that if you use cooking as a means to kill bacteria, then you need to show that the time and temperature are a valid method for killing that bacteria type. This can often be achieved by referencing FDA guidance materials.

You are not required to validate the following types of preventive controls:

  • Sanitation Preventive Controls

  • Food Allergen Controls

  • Recall Plan

Who Conducts Validation?

All validation activities must be performed by a preventive controls qualified individual.

Examples of Validation

Example of Preventive Control Verification Required? Why? Verification Example
Cooking Chicken to a temp of 165ºF as a preventive control to reduce the hazard of Salmonella Bacteria Yes The cook step is a preventive control. Therefore, the production record containing the cook temp/time must be verified A manager reads the cook log and confirms that all chicken cooked that day was cooked to 165º
Fermentation and low pH are used as a method to prevent bacterial growth in pickled cucumbers stored at room temperature Yes Low pH is a preventive control applied to stop bacteria growth. Therefore, the pH records must be verified. A manager reviews the daily production records to confirm the pH was below the required threshold in all batches. If there is a deviation, the manger verifies that the appropriate corrective action was taken.
Preservatives are used to kill harmful bacteria in chicken meat so that it can be consumed raw Yes This is a preventive control and must be verified A manager confirms that the appropriate level of preservative was used to render the product safe. Additionally, in such a high-risk scenario, it may be advisable to test the chicken for pathogens.
Chlorine sanitizer used to sanitize dishes Possibly Depending on the nature of the product, it may not be a requirement to verify that the appropriate concentration of sanitizer was used. Manager verifies a record showing that the sanitizer was tested and the chemical concentration fell into the designated range.
Items containing peanuts are stored in different-colored containers from non-peanut products No There is no requirement to verify the implementation of storage practices to mitigate an allergen concern, although it may be a good idea. A manager may inspect storage spaces occasionally to confirm that practices are being followed to avoid allergen contact.