While Bluestem has given a pretty good explanation about HACCP, I don't
accept the suggestion that it is only about microbial contamination or
that it ignores chemical contamination from whatever source. In fact as
it is interpreted here, microbial contamination is perhaps the most
serious becase a single contamination/expsoure could prove fatal to a
consumer. This is less likely with chemicals. You are required to taek
note of <bold>every</bold> input into your product.
So for our conventionally grown culinary herbs we are required not only
to have the pesticide application records on hand and only use registered
substances, but also have records, as Bluestem points out, that the staff
wash the work surfaces before starting harvesting in the morning, and
wash their hands <bold> and record that they have done so.</bold> We also
record the temperatures of our coolrooms at specified times(bacterial
contamination prevention) and so it goes.....
These requirements come from two sources: government heatlh departments
wanting to show they are dong useful things to protect citizens, and
businesses worried about lawsuits from consumers. This last reason is a
very good one to put a HACCP based system in place on your farm. Here in
Australia it is nearly an ablsolute requirement if you want to sell
produce through major outlets and soon will be an absolute obligation no
matter where you sell.
The requirtements themselves and the HACCP approach derive from ISO9000
series standards which are (as I recall) Internation Standards
Organsiation 9000 series generic rules for food production systems. I
believe the whole initiative is part of a UN/WHO program, but am happy to
be corrected. You'll often see ISO9001 and HACCP mentioned together.
Ther is no doubt that this will put pressure on smaller food producers
who will not be able to justify the cost of developing food safety
programs, and the ongoing costs of auditing. This will probably mean a
decline again in the number of small farms. There will doubtless be some
programs to make a lower cost approach accessible. The government of
Western Australia developed SQF2000 as a lower cost program to assist
food producers. A search may bring you to suitable web pages.
THere are two issues I see so far in implementing HACCP:
1./ The costs are not able to be recouped as for the most part food
producers/farmers are price takers, not price setters(please no glowing
words about the magic of the marketplace). Ultimately the grower who gets
certified should have an advantage over the uncertified,
<bold>but,</bold> we feel we have some clients who buy from us just to
get some paperwork to show and buy lots without paperwork/uncertified.
2./ A great many of the precautions which become necessary are either bad
for the environment or have bad implications for human health. For
example we use an antibacterial spray and paper towels to clean our work
surfaces three times a day. We are most certainly building up resistant
strains of bacteria on the surfaces, and this process, done on the large
scale it is being done on now, probably will produce more serious illness
than if we(all) didn't spray antibacterials. Some are chlorinating their
It is quite staggering to see our federal governmetn soften the
regulations on labelling of GMO food on the basis that it costs too much
to implement while pushing HACCP on farmers.
At 14:16 08/11/99 -0700, you wrote:
>>From Bluestem Associates:
>If you're an organic produce grower on this list and you *don't* know
>about HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) I suggest
>find out sooner rather than later.
>Can someone explain the requirements and implications of HACCP in 100
>words or less?
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