Post by Deena Prichep, The Salt at NPR Food (10/3/13)
With the current bloom of artisanal small-batch producers across the country, you'd think that all you need to start up a new food business is a good idea and a lot of gumption. And for the most part, that's true. But when it comes to artisanal producers working with meat, you also need something else: a Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points plan. Or, if you will, a HACCP.
A HACCP (pronounced, by those in the industry, as HASSup) aims to accomplish the admirable goal of keeping our food supply safe by planning out critical control points, monitoring, hazard analysis and all that fun stuff, making sure that you don't get a dose of Listeria along with your saucisson sec.
For dry-cured meats, which never get a turn in the bacteria-killing heat of the oven and rely instead on critical control of pH and moisture levels, this is especially important. It may seem surprising that there isn't one universally required procedure. But that's both the bane and beauty of the HACCP.
"The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service wants you to demonstrate that the food you make is safe," explains Arion Thiboumery, founder of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network. "They put out performance standards, but they don't tell you how. People have tried a lot of different ways." This focus on results, rather than process, means that as long as you meet the safety requirements at the critical control points, you have some leeway in how you get there.