It has been pointed out by Sperber et al. that HACCP cannot exist as a standalone food safety program . Rather, it must be supported by a strong foundation of prerequisite programs. While not a formal part of HACCP, the prerequisite programs are written, implemented procedures that address operational conditions and provide the documentation to help an operation run more smoothly to maintain comprehensive safety assurance. Standard operating procedures (SOPs), good agricultural practices (GAPs), good manufacturing practices (GMPs), and sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) are the basis for establishing a comprehensive sanitation program in a fruit and vegetable processing plant or packinghouse facility.
SOPs are step-by-step instructions that outline how an operation is to be carried out in such a way that ensures that all processing steps critical for product safety are accomplished in an orderly fashion. SOPs provide the detailed framework and safety continuum between agricultural production and commercial processing of fruit and vegetable products. GAPs are a collection of HACCP-like principles that have been extended to the on-farm production and postharvest handling activities in order to minimize micro-bial contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables . They ensure that the fresh produce industry, for which the traditional HACCP methods do not necessarily fit, will have a systematic and proactive method to reduce potential product contamination and thereby ensure safety . GMPs, sanctioned by the FDA, are the minimal sanitary requirements that must be met by a food packer or processor to ensure safe and wholesome food for interstate commerce . GMPs are broadly written, based on federal regulations, general in nature, are not intended to be plant-specific, do not establish deviation limits, and do not describe corrective action requirements . SSOPs focus more narrowly on specific procedures that allow a fruit or vegetable processing plant to achieve sanitary process control in its daily operation. SSOPs can be categorized into two types: preoperational and operational SSOPs. Preoperational SSOPs are the sanitary procedures carried out prior to the start of production each day. Operational SSOPs refer to sanitary actions taken during production to prevent product contamination or adulteration . More extensive information on these programs as applied to fresh produce have been reviewed by Gorny and Hurst [27,28].
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