Federal Guidelines for Food Manufacturers and Processors around E. Coli

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Prevention Plan

A watershed breakout of Shiga-toxin E. coli O157:H7 came in 1993 in the western United States. Children died in Seattle and hundreds of people were sickened in several states. Public outrage stirred legislators to pass the federal Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and the federal Critical Control Point Systems Final Rule, which required a mandatory Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points risk-prevention system (HACCP) in meat processing plants.

This major tool for public safety, the HACCP risk-prevention system, had been around for decades, although not applied to food safety. The HACCP was crafted during World War II by the federal government. To greatly limit the production of dud artillery shells, a grave problem, officials developed a system of safety controls called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. After a few years, health officials adopted the HACCP system toward greatly limiting the production of unsafe foodstuffs. HACCP involves preventative measures rather than inspections after items are produced. Food producers are required to measure various aspects of their production activities. These measurements gauge degrees of risk to public safety. Holding food producers within HACCP measurement guidelines, it is believed, greatly reduces the risk that unsafe food will be produced. As required by federal law, meat HACCP systems are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The federal Food and Drug Administration regulates mandated HACCP for seafood and juice. In other food industries, HACCP use is voluntary. The HACCP system can be applied at all stages of a food chain.

Importantly, all U.S. food producers must allow for federal inspection of the records of HACCP. An experienced Oregon E. coli attorney knows how to make use of such records in establishing liability in the case of E. coli poisoning.

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