Validation and verification in food safety are not new concepts, especially to professionals in the food processing industry. Since introducing the seven principles in 1989, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system has mandated the validation of critical control points to help companies improve product safety, prevent safety issues, and reduce potential recalls. 

With today’s complex supply chains, validation of food safety management systems is more essential than ever, but too many companies still struggle to understand the difference between verification and validation in food safety. Food facilities should follow the guidelines for the validation of food safety control measures before implementing the HACCP or Food Safety Plan to ensure that any hazards associated with a specific product or process are handled effectively.

Validation vs Verification

Verification and validation are complementary processes that are ongoing. Both are vital to achieving food safety. That’s why validation must have documentation demonstrating that the preventive controls in place actually control the hazard. Types of validation include:

  • Scientific or industry journals
  • Expert opinions
  • Conducting in-plant observations or tests
  • Mathematical models or Scientific Data
  • Regulatory guidance documents

Types of Verification Activities

  • Checking equipment calibration
  • Targeted sampling and testing
  • Reviewing labels
  • Visual inspection after cleaning and sanitizing
  • Environmental monitoring 
  • 2nd or 3rd party audits
  • Internal audits
  • HACCP and Food Safety Plan re-assessments
  • Review of records and other documentation

When to Re-evaluate Validation of a Food Safety Plan

  • When there is a change in raw materials or supplier
  • When there is a change in process or product
  • When new equipment is introduced to a process
  • When new scientific discoveries are published
  • During reassessment of HACCP or Food Safety Plan

Validation Resources for Food Facilities

  • Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International
  • American Public Health Association (APHA) Compendium of Methods for the Microbiological Examination of Foods
  • APHA Standard Methods for the Examination of Dairy Products
  • The Pesticide Analytical Manual (PAM)
  • The Food Additives Analytical Manual
  • The Food Chemicals Codex
  • FDA Bacteriological Analytical Procedures Manual (MPM)
  • ORA Laboratory Information Bulletins (LIBs)
  • International Standards Organization (ISO) Methods

Remember, all food facilities are responsible for developing and implementing a food safety management program that is scientifically effective (validation) in controlling the hazards and complies with the current food safety programs (verification). Need help getting started? Contact us today!

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