AASP Pork Producer Partnerssm activities

November and December, 1998

Surviving in a HACCP world

An overview of animal production food safety workshops sponsored by the LCI, the USDA, and the Farm Foundation

Hazards analysis and critical control points (HACCP) is a term swine practitioners are becoming more and more familiar with these days. Most of us in pork production first heard of HACCP through the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), and HACCP has been the basis for the NPPC's PQA program. Now faced with more and more public concern over food safety, FSIS has mandated a science-based HACCP system within the packing industry. The Livestock Conservation Institute (LCI), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Farm Foundation recently sponsored several HACCP workshops to address some of the new regulations and requirements.

HACCP is defined as a systematic approach to be used in food production as a means to ensure food safety. It was developed in the 1950s by Dr. Howard Bauman of the Pillsbury Company. The road to HACCP began when Pillsbury was contracted by NASA to produce a diet for the space program. Although it was relatively easy to develop food and food preparation for zero gravity, guaranteeing safety was nearly impossible with a system relying totally on sampling of finished product. Instead, Dr. Bauman developed a systematic approach to food production called HACCP which ensures safe food products.

What does this mean to swine producers and swine veterinarians? One of many factors driving HACCP down to the farm level is the "trickle-down" effect of HACCP regulations. Thus, pressure is increasing from supermarkets and restaurants to processors to slaughterhouses to producers. At each of these levels, the first principle learned is that the finished product is directly dependent on the raw product. As part of their HACCP plans, packers will be required to show that they have some knowledge of incoming animals and the premises where they originate. PQA Level III certification is a way for swine producers, working with their veterinarians, to demonstrate to packers that they are producing safe, wholesome pork.

As of January 1998, the approximately 300 largest packing plants (500 or more employees) began to operate under this HACCP system. Of these 300 largest plants, only 65 slaughter cattle or swine. However, in terms of percentage of animals, these 65 plants slaughter 75%-80% of all cattle and swine marketed. In January 1999, all small plants (10-499 employees) will come on board, increasing the percentage of cattle and swine slaughtered in HACCP plants to 90%. By January 27, 2000 all cattle and swine will be marketed through packers with HACCP systems.

--Contributed by AASP member Dr. Mike Hannon