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HACCP Model For Beef Slaughter: Quick Guide For Food Manufacturers

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HACCP

The US Food and Drug Administration (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently updated its HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) model concerning beef slaughter. The previous model dates back to 1996 and the newly updated version is expected to be used as the foundation for a slaughter plan for other types of livestock. This comes on the heels of the FSIS’s new Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) guide.

HACCP Updates Are Ongoing

Part of the HACCP plan is to continually release guideline updates. In the past few months, the FSIS has announced four revisions to guidance models intended to assist in the meat and poultry industry. These new guides and generic models cover topics including raw ground beef, beef jerky, bacon, and pork slaughter, which are released to keep processors up-to-date on regulations. The regulations contained in the updates are designed to help processors produce safe, wholesome food products for consumers. 2021 happens to be the 25th anniversary of the first set of HACCP regulations implemented by the USDA. It began with concerns over the processing and handling of seafood and has continued to include other animal food products.

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Poultry And Meat Guides Have Also Been Updated

The HACCP models and guidance for poultry and meat have also undergone a recent update. They now include more science-based references along with a product description, production flow diagram, hazard analysis, ingredients list, and HACCP plans.

The food safety plans designed by the HACCP first went in place to address an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in 1993 that spanned four states and resulted in 4 deaths, 170 hospitalizations, and 700 foodborne illnesses. The source was traced to a fast-food restaurant in Washington State. The incident prompted a complete overhaul of the process used to inspect meat and poultry in the US, Canada, and other countries.

The Changes in Food Inspection

Kerri Gehring, Ph.D., professor of animal science at Texas A&M University, and president and chief executive officer of the International HACCP Alliance says, “HACCP actually began being used by seafood before meat and poultry.” He states that before the mandatory use of HCAAP occurred, inspectors examined meat and poultry through sight, smell, and touch. In other words, potential hazards were identified at one time just through the simple task of poking and sniffing the food product in question. While that may have been sufficient at one point, it was not an effective way to detect major food safety threats that exist today. Since these threats are now mostly microbiological, the inspection system had to change from a command and control method to something more thorough.

The Major Changes Made By HACCP

Food inspectors still have a great deal of power in their positions. Their roles continue to be vital in the food inspection safety chain. Inspectors have much to say about how tasks are performed in a food processing plant. But two key changes that resulted from the HACCP have greatly improved the relationship between inspectors and facilities. First, the guide changed how food safety inspections are conducted. Second, it gave food processing plants responsibility for creating their own HACCP food safety plans. Before HACCP, food processors turned to food inspectors for direction. This change puts the onus on the food industry to become accountable within itself.

At First, HACCP Was Not Considered Effective

The global head of food safety for JBS, and former Administrator of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Al Almanza, says the initial reaction of food experts to the HACCP was that it would not provide a strong enough safety system for use in the food industry. “Critics said it was designed for NASA and the auto industry, not for food safety.” He added, “They didn’t see the relevance of HACCP in regulating meat and poultry which, as you know, is a heavily regulated industry. Or that HACCP could help meat and poultry plants to produce food products more safely.” Almanza goes on to state, “But was there anything better to improve poultry and meat slaughter and product safety? No. It has streamlined the whole approach to inspection for FSIS and industry – how they communicate with each other, the expectations of meat and poultry plants and inspectors – and HACCP set up a prescribed way of doing things.”

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HACCP Has Been Tough On Small Producers

According to Chris Young, executive director of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), the HACCP guides have been a burden on small meat processors. “In the beginning, some plants didn’t want to take on such a major change, so they closed or changed their operations to custom-exempt.” However, Young adds that HACCP has done a lot of good for the industry as a whole. “HACCP has been a great improvement for the industry. It forced everyone to understand the food safety side of processing. It made people look at their processes and find the areas where they can control the food safety aspects. It made the industry, the small and very small processors, aware of and understand the hazards that exist and controls they could use in making safe products.” He added, “A lot of models USDA put out in the past, in the beginning, were really more suited to the operations of large plants. I’m encouraged to see under the current FSIS leadership assistance and help geared to small plants.”

Final Thoughts

Change is often scary. However, change is also often a means of improving a situation. In food safety, the major change from the USDA came from the FSIS-created HACCP. It was the answer to a problem concerning foodborne diseases that resulted in a serious, and deadly outbreak in 1993. Since that time, there have been many updated and new food processing guides released by the FSIS to standardize processing procedures. To make foods made from animals safe for human consumption, specific guidelines were required. A quarter-century has passed since the first HACCP guide. Directives created through the HCAAP program are still being used today and have been proven to reduce the risk of illness from improper handling or processing of food made from animals.

 

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