Food Safety Systems for
Low-Acid Aseptic Beverages
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a science-based system that identi- fies, evaluates and controls hazards of significance to assure food safety. Simply put, the
focus of Hazard Analysis is that hazards and
appropriate control measures are identified and Critical Control Points (CCPs) are further delineated as control measures essential to eliminate or reduce the hazard to an acceptable level.
The boundaries that separate acceptability from unacceptability
are defined as critical limits.
Where manufacturing processes and control measure components have been predefined in product and process design,
the application of HACCP can be a reflective process for the
facility HACCP team as they evaluate each control measure in
determining “What hazard is of significance and is the step specifically designed to eliminate or reduce the likely occurrence
of a hazard to an acceptable level?” (see Figure 1).
Aseptic processing and packaging refer to the processing and
packaging of a commercially sterile product into sterilized containers followed by hermetically sealing with a sterilized closure
to prevent viable microbiological recontamination.
Hazard Analysis and Control
For low-acid (pH > 4. 6), shelf-stable, non-refrigerated beverages, heat-resistant spores of
toxigenic anaerobic microorganisms, such as
Clostridium botulinum, are a biological hazard of significance
that warrant absolute control. Foodborne botulism can be se-
vere, resulting from the ingestion of foods containing the neu-
rotoxin formed during growth of the organism if present and
allowed to grow in the product. Thus, the primary strategies
in minimizing C. botulinum risk are in having effective control
measures for (i) sterilization and maintaining sterility of the
processing equipment; (ii) destruction of heat-stable C. botuli-
num spores in product; (iii) sterilization of the packaging mate-
rial and (iv) maintaining sterility during filling and packaging.
For HACCP, the components of these essential control mea-
sures can be defined as CCPs. For a regulated scheduled pro-
cess, these control measures can be described as critical factors.
A critical factor is defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (in 21 CFR 113.3) as any property, characteristic,
condition, aspect or other parameter, a variation of which may
limits for low-acid