The Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is an internationally accepted program that helps to regulate the safety of foods sold within the U.S. and exported to a number of other countries. Hygiene and HACCP go hand in hand, as cleanliness is vital in keeping foodstuffs fit for human consumption. Many HACCP guidelines instruct manufacturers and wholesalers about the most hygienic ways to store, prepare, and ship food.
Hygiene and HACCP don't just apply to the human workers responsible for food processing. For example, a number of guidelines specific to the dairy industry outline cleanliness requirements for milking barns, equipment, and pasteurization tanks. Also of vital importance to keeping milk pure and uncontaminated with bacteria are the hygiene practices involving the cows; not only should the milking equipment be clean, but the cows should be clean as well. Details of the hygiene practices outlined by HACCP are precise, down to the hand-washing facilities that should be available to employees and how cows should be washed prior to milking.
HACCP creates more than just guidelines for the hygienic processes that individuals should follow. There are also training programs available with information on hygiene and HACCP that outline proper practices for the hygienic upkeep of facilities and equipment as well as personal practices such as washing hands. Testing materials can help employers ensure that their employees know the importance of proper hygiene when working around food.
One of the largest areas that HACCP oversees is the food-service industry. Here, hygiene is crucial for a number of reasons. Raw and cooked foods are often in close proximity to each other, and HACCP has program sheets detailing the proper way to clean cooking surfaces, pans, dishes, and other utensils to make sure potentially dangerous raw foods such as chicken do not contaminate other foods. The necessity of properly cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food provides a vital link between hygiene and HACCP.
Also under the umbrella of hygiene and HACCP is the responsibility for establishing guidelines for the juice and fruit industry. Here, the cleanliness of fruits turned into juice is vital to the purity of the final product. Guidelines cover topics including whether or not fruit should be pressure-washed, and how often storage tanks need to be thoroughly cleaned in order to maintain a hygienic environment. Other hygienic procedures include the sterilization of containers before juice is bottled, establishing hand-washing stations for those handling fruit, and ensuring that leftover pulp is properly disposed of.