HACCP Process Flow Diagram – Top Tips

A Process Flow Diagram is an essential part of any HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) system. This is normally complied by the HACCP team immediately after the Terms of Reference document is produced. This article will look at my top tips for producing a good Process Flow Diagram and outline the pitfalls along the way.

The Process Flow Diagram is a representation of how any food product or raw material is produced, prepared or manufactured. It should start as soon as raw materials, ingredients or packaging materials are received by the company and deal with all steps in the process of producing a final product through to the passing of the final product to the customer or consumer. However, some key areas can make the difference between a good HACCP plan and a downright confusing one. Since we are talking about food safety here it is clearly important that we get the Process Flow Diagram right 먹튀검증. First things first; unless you have organised a HACCP team and decided on any product grouping or categorisation then you should not be contemplating producing a Process Flow Diagram but organising the HACCP team first.

The first decision we must make is who from the HACCP team will compile and check the Process Flow Diagram. The person(s) responsible for this should have an intimate knowledge of the production or preparation process. If there is more than one person then this should be done as a team and the process agreed and drawn up together. This is an analysis that will involve sketching out the steps all ingredients, raw materials, packaging and waste materials go through in a logical sequence from start to finish. Each stage will be defined as a process step and this is the first area where mistakes happen. People commonly don’t understand what a process step is or how to name it. This is crucial as we will see later. A process step is effectively a box you will sketch on your paper and it should represent a change in some way of the product, raw material or packaging. When I say change I mean that the raw material changes in terms of ownership, temperature, time, location, addition or removal of something. For example; ‘Goods Inwards’ is a transfer of ownership or raw materials, ingredients or packaging. ‘Chilled Storage’ is a control and reduction of temperature where the product or raw material changes by ‘getting older’ or by having its temperature reduced. ‘Cooking’ changes the food both physically and chemically and also kills bacteria. The key here is the word ‘change’. Apply this rule to your identification of process steps and you will be able to identify process steps easily.

The next major issue related to the above is the naming of a process step. This is vital to the hazard analysis that will take place later. The reason for this is that the second question in the Codex Alimentarius decision tree asks ‘Does the Process Step eliminate or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level?’ The implication of this is that if we chose a bad naming convention for the process step then we are in danger of not being able to answer this question effectively. This is important because the answer to this question determines if the process step is a critical control point (CCP) or not. For example; if we have named a process step ‘Hold Meat in Walk In Store’ and we assess the microbial hazard ‘Bacterial growth (temperature not low enough)’ then when answering question 2 ‘Does the process step eliminate or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level?’ is not as clear as if the process step was named ‘Raw Meat Chilled Storage’. The best way to avoid this problem is to name the process step using as few words as possible and to functionally describe what happens to the food, raw material, etc at the process step. Good examples of this are ‘Goods Inwards’, ‘Chilled Storage’, ‘Frozen Storage’, ‘Cook’ and ‘Metal Detect’ Using this approach keeps us on the right track for later on in the hazard analysis process.

Having drawn up the process flow diagram we must then have it verified before approving this as the version of events. Ideally, this should be done by having someone else walk through the process and check that what you have documented actually happens. Verification should take place at different times of day, e.g. different shifts and also when things are very busy and very quiet as the pressures of production can sometimes cause people to take short cuts. Once the verification has been agreed, the HACCP team should then sign off the process flow diagram and if they are using a HACCP software system enter the flow diagram in to the system.

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