Updated: Mar 13
Food safety usually intimidates the beginning grower. Cost. Regulations. Liability!. There is a lot to think about. Using Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) helps mitigate the risks associated with operating a food production facility. All farms, indoors or outdoors, are required to have a HAACP plan as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012 (FSMA). Although it seems complicated, it is mostly common sense.
Here it is, broken down, using the seven guiding principles:
With growing, a common hazard is your system water mixing with the finished product. Or it might be something as obvious as foreign objects (like hair or jewelry) getting in to your finished product. In other words, where can things go wrong with your process.
Identified Critical Control Points (CCPs) in food preparation:
A Critical Control Point (CCP) is a procedure at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented or reduced to acceptable levels. For instance, at our farm, the packing process and harvesting process are completely separate (location, equipment, staff) thus reducing the possibility of cross contamination.
Establish Critical Control Limits for Preventive Measures:
These are usually set by a governing body. FSMA says agricultural water used during the growing process is acceptable if less than 126 CFU/100 mL. A preventative measure might be adding a UV filer to your plumbing, which kills most, if not all, the harmful bacteria
Establish Procedures to Monitor CCPs:
In the case of hydroponic ag water, test regularly (Say once a quarter) to make sure the e.coli is less than 126. A less expensive option might to be monitor you coliform levels, and then test for specific pathogens when the coliform level rises beyond your four month rolling average.
Establish the Corrective Action to be Taken When Monitoring Shows That a Critical Limit Has Been Exceeded:
Sticking with the theme of "bad" Ag water, this could be as simple as dosing your water system with 5 ppm of Sanidate, and then re-testing.
Establish Effective Record Keeping System That Document the HACCP system: -
There is a log for everything on the farm.
Establish Procedures To Verify That the HACCP system is Working:
Self auditing on a monthly basis is typically the best approach, but timing is flexible.