Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service podcast. Each episode
will bring you cutting edge news and information about how FSIS is working to ensure public
health protection through food safety. While we're on the job, you can rest assured that
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Hello and welcome! This is Sheila Johnson and Dr. Ron Jones from the Food Safety and Inspection
Service. Today we'll be discussing part six in a ten part series on how meat and poultry
plants go about designing a HACCP plan. In previous podcasts we provided a general overview
of HACCP; we've discussed the preliminary steps and the first three principles - Conducting
a Hazard Analysis, Identifying Critical Control Points and Establishing Critical Limits.
Today we'll talk about the fourth principle: Establishing Monitoring Procedures.
Ron, so as a plant owner or operator you're required to establish critical control point
monitoring procedures. Why is monitoring helpful?
Monitoring involves a series of observations and measurements that are used to make sure
a critical control point is under control. You can think of monitoring activities as the
checks-and-balances for each critical control point. When someone monitors, they are "checking
to see" that the critical limits are being met.
What can monitoring do for you?
Monitoring can do three things for your plant. First, it shows you when a deviation from
a critical limit has happened. For example, an employee tests the temperature of some
frozen beef patties and discovers that the internal temperature has gone above the established
critical limit of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If not caught here, this would be a potentially
serious health risk to consumers because harmful pathogens can grow and contaminate the
product at temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
What else does monitoring do?
Second, monitoring helps identify trends in your process that will allow you to predict
a loss of control at a critical control point. For example, a plant may monitor the temperature
of a cold storage area at 6 am, 8 am, and 10 am. Each time, the temperature is within
acceptable limits, but it's steadily climbing toward the high end of the range. This information
points toward a trend, and the plant should take action to prevent the temperature from
exceeding the critical limits.
And the third benefit?
Third, monitoring produces written records for use in future HACCP plan verification steps.
Written monitoring records are very valuable, should a serious problem occur along the
production line. The records prove that your company has established and carried out effective
monitoring techniques. It's very important that records for monitoring be kept according
to the requirements of the regulation. That means that the person who is monitoring the
critical limit must record the actual value of the critical limit that was measured, the
date, the time the measurement was taken, the initials or signature of the person who
did the monitoring.
So, how do you identify your monitoring procedures?
When looking at your critical control points, think about the specific preventative
measure you've chosen. Which method of monitoring will best keep track of the critical
limits that need to be checked? For example, would checking the time, temperature, or
pH be appropriate for monitoring or maybe something else?
What are some steps a plant can take to ensure monitoring will go smoothly?
Well, the HACCP team should clearly identify the employees responsible for monitoring.
They should make sure the employees understand the purpose and importance of monitoring.
The employees should also be trained in the proper testing procedures, the established
critical limits, the methods of recording monitoring results, and the actions to be taken
when critical limits are exceeded. The results of monitoring help plants check and see
if their critical control points are being met and that they can adjust the process at
any time and maintain control.
Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thank you Ron for the information on establishing
monitoring procedures. Also, thanks to all of you out there listening. Stay tuned for
the next episode in our series "Designing a HACCP Plan" where we will talk about the fifth
HACCP principle "Establishing Corrective Actions."
Well, that's all for this episode. We'd like your feedback on our podcast. Or if you
have ideas for future podcasts, send us an e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more
about food safety, try our web site at www.fsis.usda.gov.
Thanks for tuning in.