"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
"I consulted with my two brothers, Dr.Reason and Dr.Experience...

The Hilarious Acronym All Cooks Promote

Breaking from tradition today in terms of post naming - It's been a while since I managed to post correctly in timeline, so I wanted to quickly reference where I was picking up from (take a look here to refresh yourself on my dilemmas about quality vs legality vs budget). 

So the H.ilarious A.cronym A.ll C.ooks P.romote. More commonly known as HACCP. Let me be clear here and explain that HACCP actually stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point - though I like my mnemonic better. Essentially, this is a system for controlling the health and safety hazards that pop up during any type of food production. If you're usually the order-in-slash-use-your-oven-for-storage-type, like my partner is, you may not realize that germs and bacteria love my cooking as much, if not more than, my dinner guests. So there are several cardinal rules that I must always follow to keep those nefarious gate-crashers at bay, and HACCP helps to identify at what point in my process I left the door open wider than in others. That's the Hazard Analysis portion. 

Once I know when my door is open, I can get an idea of what sort of barriers I should erect (baby-gate, padlock, cold-storage-below-8-degrees) and when I should be double-or-triple checking that these barriers are accomplishing their purpose. That's the Critical Control Points part. I.e. At what point is it critical that I maintain control (in order to keep the food safe from foodborne pathogens from farm to fork). 

No matter what your familiarity is with keeping your cooking safe, unless you've opened a food business here in the UK, you probably don't know that having a HACCP plan in place is a legal requirement for anyone producing food for public sale. 

Because of this broad brush requirement, there are loads of template plans available out there. Basic paint-by-numbers, fill-in-the-blanks type. Simple, easy, and straightforward. Of course when you model your whole business on something unique and new and try really hard to do something never or rarely done before... well... yeah, hardly likely that you'll find something that fits without a significant amount of rework. But the government is here to help!*

Enter myhaccp.food.gov.uk

Answer every question, and boom, by the end of the, hmm, maybe 20 page site, you've got a print-ready HACCP plan of your very own. 

I wanted to share this website with you fine readers, because when I first found it, I thought it was heaven-sent. So much information on how to consider your situation - it supported all the information I had previously learned during other HACCP courses - and it sure felt like it was going to help make the analysis and ccp set-up a breeze.

 

Wrong

Yeah. Only the super sarcasm of Hugh Laurie could convey how wrong I was. Not to say that this program isn't as helpful as expected - it's just that it cannot save you from yourself. And if you are hell bent on considering every single possible moment where there are even just tiny cracks around the edges of your door (are you still following this metaphor?!) then, it's going to take a while, whether you use a tool like myhaccp or not. I've been seriously working on this plan since December 2014. That's a long time, yo. 

But, on the flip side, once I'm 65 and the plan is actually complete - you can be guaranteed that everything you purchase from Crown & Queue Meats will be as safe as I can make it. And frankly, as opposed to the typical cooked dinner, raw fermented meats carry a teensy bit more risk. Plus, myhaccp was super helpful with shining a light on areas of safety I hadn't originally considered.

Yeah, you might think that, as anal as I already am, the LAST thing I needed was someone pointing out where else I could obsess, but that isn't so. As a sole business owner (and the only producer, accountant, janitor and delivery driver) you can easily lose sight of the grander picture of what you're doing. And even with the best of intentions, you can overlook something terrifically dangerous. I remember reading about this woman who poisoned 47 police officers with tuna sandwiches - and just thinking: "She probably didn't set out to do that!" According to the poisonees, they quite liked this lady and often purchased items from her kitchen. Close your eyes to one thing because you have 100 sandwiches to make, and well, it can really snowball. 

That AIN'T gonna happen to me. So, I'm just going to keep pushing on with my 4-month-and-counting plan. And it will be the gold standard for any cured meats producer to come after me. Or, at the very least, one more template to add the heaving online mass. 

Tune in next time for a herbaceous take on the "water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink" adage. Yeah, sure, it grows here... but you can't have it.

Tah ta till then!

 

*Don't fuss, libertarians, I'm not saying that they are in every situation. Just for HACCP. 

 

 

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