HACCP Certification or HACCP Plan? What’s the difference?

January 23, 2015 By

So what do you really need to have in your operation to ensure you are able to provide a safe food to your customer?  Every company wants to protect their brand from costly recalls and ultimately protect their customers from unnecessary health risks.  How does implementing a HACCP Program in your company differ from obtaining HACCP Certification under GFSI? How does all this fit in to the new requirements under the Safe Foods for Canadians Act and the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act? What’s the difference between ensuring you have a valid HACCP program and what the new regulations are requiring under Preventative Control Plan implementation?  There seems to be an assortment of options and the goal of this article is to provide clarity and understanding to a very critical topic.

HACCP is essential to the core of any Food Safety Program. The full acronym stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) which was developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.  It is an internationally recognized, science based food safety system designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate potential biological, chemical and food safety hazards.  For the purpose of HACCP, hazards refer to agents in a food that can cause illness, injury or death of a person. Examples of biological hazards are those caused by microorganisms (bacteria, virus, parasites and molds) and are often associated with the failure of a process step. Chemical hazards include those caused by substances or molecules that may occur naturally such as phallotoxins in mushrooms, or intentionally such as pesticides in agricultural products. Another example of an accidental chemical hazard is contamination from cleaning chemical residues or allergens causing immune system responses. Physical hazards include substances that are not normally found in food that can cause physical injury to the person consuming the food (eg: wood slivers, glass fragments, metal shavings, bone pieces).

Implementation of a HACCP program allows each production line in your facility to be assessed and evaluated for risks with clear identifications of points in the production lines that are most critical to control to ensure food safety.  Critical Control Points (CCPs) on each production line are identified, controlled, monitored and validated with the end goal of eliminating the food safety hazard.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Food Safety Enhancement Program outlines the HACCP System that includes the following:

Prerequisites Programs


Validation Documentation

HACCP System Maintenance and Reassessment Procedures

Currently only federally registered meat, poultry and dairy establishments are required by CFIA to be audited for HACCP requirements.  Many food companies in other sectors that are not mandated by law to implement HACCP have nonetheless developed programs to ensure their company’s reputation for quality.

HACCP Certification through the Global Food Safety Initiative is the stamp of approval by a third-party, government-recognized, accredited organization.  This certification basically verifies to your customers that the HACCP Plan in your operation meets the global requirements. Companies that are interested in global market share have an advantage if their HACCP plan is certified to international standards. Most large retailers and food corporations often require that their vendors be certified according to GFSI for this reason.

Here at dicentra, we are now able to help you with the implementation of HACCP for your specific operation.  Whether your company has some level of the HACCP prerequisites already in place and need help with preparing for the full GFSI certification audit or whether you are starting from scratch and a HACCP plan is new to your organization, we are able to help you succeed in your next steps.