Before the actual HACCP plan design begins, several preliminary tasks must be accomplished: (1) identifying the scope of the study, (2) assembling the HACCP team and providing adequate training, (3) describing the product for which the HACCP plan is being developed and its intended use, and (4) developing and verifying a flow chart of the operation required to produce the product. It is important to remember that a separate HACCP plan must be developed for each product or processing line in the plant operation. This means that each HACCP plan will be plant-specific and must be uniquely tailored for each packer or processor.
Task 1: setting limits for the HACCP study. First, the terms of reference for the HACCP study should be established at the outset to define where the HACCP plan begins and ends. The model for discussion in this chapter considers only the preparation of shredded iceberg lettuce at a fresh-cut processing plant. Where complex production operations of a product are concerned, it can be simpler (and safer) to break down the handling chain into smaller segments (e.g., lettuce production, distribution to the consumer) and link the operations together later to form the overall HACCP system .
Task 2: the HACCP team. A HACCP coordinator with good communication skills and knowledge of HACCP techniques should be appointed to lead, coordinate, and build the HACCP team. Selection of team members should be based on their working knowledge of the entire process and their ability to contribute unique aspects of the operation toward ensuring the safety of the product. Team members should be multidisciplinary and multifunctional. The HACCP team may include a microbiologist, quality assurance and sanitation personnel, production operations, engineering and maintenance, purchasing or procurement, marketing and sales, and on-line personnel .
Task 3: product description. The HACCP team must first develop a complete description of the product under study. Information on key parameters that determine safety must be included (e.g., specific refrigeration temperature for fresh-cut produce, pasteurization temperature for processed juices, pH value for acidified vegetables). A complete description detailing its form, size, packaging and storage requirements, shelf life, instructions for use, and intended consumer must be defined, as demonstrated for fresh-cut lettuce in Table 15.2.
Task 4: flow chart of process. A flow chart can be a picture worth a thousand words when used to describe in clear and simple terms the steps
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