Standard 3.2.1 of the Food Standards Code in Australia states that most food businesses need to devise a Food Safety Program based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles.
However, in recent years some new acronyms have entered into food safety jargon - VACCP, TACCP and HARPC. In this post we'll take a look at what they all mean and the difference between them.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points)
HACCP stands for 'Hazard Analyisis Critical Control Points' and is a food safety system originally created in the 1960s by NASA to ensure the safety of food to be consumed by astronauts.
Many food safety plans are based on the 7 principles of HACCP - which involve determining what the potential hazards are for a business, how to identify if a hazard is exceeding acceptable levels, and what to do in such situations.
In Australia, many food businesses must have a food safety plan in place that's built on HACCP principles. The HACCP Plan is often managed by the Food Safety Supervisor of a business who's undergone nationally recognised training to understand what's involed in the process.
VACCP (Vulnerability Assessment Critical Control Points)
VACCP stands for 'Vulnerability Assessment Critical Control Points'. This is a different type of food safety system used to identify vulnerabilities for a food business due to food fraud.
Food fraud includes incidents such as counterfeiting, adulteration, smuggling, stolen goods, dilution and mislabelling. All pose a risk as food being received may not be what it says it is and/or visibility could have been list throughout the supply chain process.
The VACCP system uses similar principles to HACCP but instead of focusing on how to identify and control hazards, the focus is on how to identify and control vulnerabilities.
TACCP (Threat Assessment Critical Control Points)
TACCP is similar to VACCP but standards for 'Threat Assessment Critical Control Points'. Threats are different to vulnerabilities as they're performed for idealogical rather than economical reasons.
Threats could include intentional contamination of food products, sabotage of the supply chain, and using food or drink items for terrorism or criminal purposes.
HARPC (Hazard Analysis & Risk-Based Preventive Controls)
HARPC standard for 'Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls' and is a US standard mandated via the new Food Safety Modernisation Act 2011. It's an extension to the HACCP system and has a focus on preventive control.
In other words, instead of using a HACCP plan which is used to identify hazards and control them when they occur, a HARPC plan aims to prevent the hazards occurring in the first place. This includes hazards such as vulnerabilities and threats as explained in previous sections.
At present, there's no legal requirement for HARPC plans in Australia, although it's best practice to focus on ways to prevent hazards before they occur.
However, VACCP and TACCP plans are already being requested from suppliers by some of the larger food chains in Australia. It may only be a matter of time before they become a mandatory part of every food supplier's food safety program.