Food Safety Food Manager

Managing Food Safety: What's the Difference Between HACCP and HARPC?

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Trust20 Contributors • 6 minute read

“Safety first” isn’t just a slogan–it’s a mandate to live by, one that holds especially true in the food industry.

If you work around food, you already know how to follow food safety best practices. You may also be familiar with hearing complicated acronyms in your day-to-day work.

In this post, we’ll review two essential food safety management system terms: HACCP and HARPC. Whether you manage a restaurant, work in a hospital, or manufacture food products, it is important to understand the difference between HACCP and HARPC and how they impact your day-to-day operations.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan?

What is a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) plan?

What is the difference between HACCP and HARPC?

What is the history of HACCP and HARPC?

What is a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan?

HACCP is an internationally recognized system that focuses on identifying and controlling hazards throughout the food production process.1 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate HACCP programs in the United States.

An effective HACCP plan covers seven core principles:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis: Identify potential food safety hazards that could affect food safety.

  2. Identify Critical Control Points (CCPs): Determine the points in the process where control is essential to prevent hazards.

  3. Establish Critical Limits: Set maximum or minimum values for each CCP to prevent hazards.

  4. Monitor CCPs: Implement procedures to monitor critical control points.

  5. Establish Corrective Actions: Define the actions to take when a CCP is not compliant.

  6. Verification Procedures: Validate that the HACCP system is working effectively.

  7. Record-Keeping and Documentation: Maintain thorough documentation of all procedures and corrective actions.

Many countries mandate that certain manufacturers and suppliers use HACCP in their facilities. In the U.S., meat, seafood, and juice processors, restaurants, and some agricultural practices use HACCP.2

Some operations, like small businesses, retail food establishments, and certain agricultural producers, may be exempt from these requirements. Even if not required by law, following HACCP principles can greatly improve your business's food safety practices.

What is a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) plan?

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) introduced HARPC in 2011. Think of HARPC as an evolution of HACCP that prioritizes proactive preventative controls.3

The steps involved in HARPC are similar but more comprehensive:

  1. Hazard Analysis: Identify known or reasonably foreseeable hazards.

  2. Risk-Based Preventive Controls: Implement preventive controls to minimize or prevent identified hazards.

  3. Monitoring: Establish procedures to ensure preventive controls are consistently applied.

  4. Corrective Actions: Define steps to take when preventive controls are not properly implemented.

  5. Verification: Validate that preventive controls are effective.

  6. Record-Keeping: Maintain comprehensive records of hazard analysis, preventive controls, monitoring, and verification.

HARPC applies across the entire food supply chain. In the U.S., most food facilities that make, process, pack, or store food for eating must have HARPC plans.

Small businesses and low-risk operations may not need to implement HARPC. However, staying informed of the regulations that apply to your operation is still important.4

What is the difference between HACCP and HARPC?

HACCP and HARPC share common goals and methodologies, such as analyzing hazards, identifying critical control points, and continuous monitoring. But what are the differences between them?

Hazard vs. risk

HACCP focuses on identifying and controlling hazards at key points in the production process.

On the other hand, HARCP takes a broader approach by considering hazards and food safety risks.

Methods of hazard analysis

During hazard analysis, HACCP plans focus on biological, chemical, and physical hazards. The analysis in HARPC includes a wider range of potential hazards, such as radiological hazards, natural toxins, parasites, and intentional adulteration.5 

Reactive vs. preventive controls

One of the most significant differences between HACCP and HARPC is their approach to control measures. HACCP is a reactive food safety plan that aims to control hazards once they are identified.

HARPC is a set of proactive preventive controls that work to prevent hazards in the first place.

Frequency of review

Under HACCP, how often you review and verify your plan depends on the food product and process. Generally, you should review your plan once a year. 

HARPC standards typically require more detailed documentation and should be reviewed once every three years or when required by your industry.6

Who is regulated?

HACCP programs are specifically required in the meat, seafood, and juice processing industries. However, HARCP regulations apply to nearly all food facilities.

Who’s responsible?

In HACCP, the responsibility for implementing and maintaining the system typically falls on the HACCP coordinator, who ensures that all principles are followed. 

In HARPC, the task is assigned to a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). The PCQI is responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the food safety plan and ensuring that all preventive controls are effectively managed.

It’s also important to note that recall plans are not required under HACCP. Under HARPC, a written recall plan is mandatory when hazards are identified.6 

What is the history of HACCP and HARPC?

NASA, Pillsbury, and the U.S. Army Laboratories worked together in the 1960s to ensure food safety for astronauts.7

This program has long been the gold standard in food safety management and has been widely adopted across the food industry.

In 2011, the FDA recognized the need for a more comprehensive food safety system.8 President Obama signed the FSMA into law in 2011, and HARPC became a required standard across the food industry.

The Takeaway

Understanding the key differences between HACCP and HARPC programs is critical for anyone in the food industry. While they both address food safety, the shift from a reactive to a proactive approach benefits public health–and everyone’s bottom line.

If you or your team need to learn more about food safety best practices, Trust20 can provide you with training and resources to support your business's success and compliance.

In a world filled with acronyms, HACCP and HARPC are two to remember. Recognizing their power and value helps your establishment comply with regulatory requirements and build a positive reputation.

Start Trust20's Food Manager Program today.


  1. FDA: Draft Guidance for Industry: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food

  2. FDA: Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

  3. Food Safety: HACCP vs. HARPC: A Comparison

  4. Safe Food Alliance: What is the difference between the HACCP and HARPC?

  5. USDA: Overview: HARPC and HACCP | Food and Nutrition Service

  6. PMC: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC): Current Food Safety and Quality Standards for Complementary Foods

  7. NASA Spinoff: How the Moon Landing Led to Safer Food for Everyone

  8. Pennsylvania State University: Understanding FSMA: HACCP, HARPC and the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule