Food safety validation is an important part of any HACCP-based food safety program. It provides the confidence that your food products will be safe to consume, and your systems will achieve the desired outcomes.
Food safety validation is a requirement of any of the GFSI recognised standards along with Codex HACCP. It is also integral in our ability to produce safe food. In this post I share 3 key validation activities that your food business should have in place. You can also check out a webinar I recently recorded on the topic.
What is food safety validation?
Before we get into my top 3 validation activities let’s get clear on our definition. Food safety validation is obtaining evidence that an activity, if properly implemented, is capable of controlling the hazard to a specified outcome.
CCP Critical Limit Validation
Critical control point (CCP) validation is the most recognized food safety validation you will come across. It involves making sure that whatever critical limits you have defined in your HACCP Plan will actually work. Some common CCP critical limit validation include time – temperature relationships, storage temperatures and chemical dosing concentrations. You can generally find references back to legislation for any cooking or storage temperatures.
Shelf Life Validation
How did you come up with the shelf life or expiry date coding for your finished product? Did you take a guess or did you copy what your competitor has on their products? Both options are not acceptable.
You need to establish your own expiry dates based on your individual processing method. You can run a series of tests, using both microbiological and sensory analysis. An external laboratory may also provide guidance on what the best analysis would be for your product and process. You can read more about shelf life validation here.
Cleaning chemical validation is a big one. How do you know that the chemical sanitizer you are using in your food business is adequate? When I say adequate, I mean, will it effectively reduce the microbiological load on your equipment or utensil surfaces?
There is some general information that has been published by governments around the world which talks about chemical constituents but what about the actual brands that you use? Easiest way to obtain this food safety validation information is to ask your chemical supplier. Obtain copies of their microbiological analysis. Don’t just accept what the company sales representative has to say. Get it in writing from a suitably qualified source.
Codex Validation Requirements for Control Measures
I have previously reported that the latest update to Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene (Codex HACCP) validation of control measures is now required. This can be found in Principle 6 – Validation of the HACCP plan and verification procedures. Validation of control measures is further described more fully in the Guidelines for the Validation of Food Safety Control Measures (CXG 69-2008).
If you are interested in learning more on how to put together and documenting a food safety validation study, check out this webinar that I recorded as part of IFSQN Food Safety Friday’s presentation.
This webinar was recorded in July 2023.