Certification as a specialist in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) enables a food-safety professional to audit systems and evaluate them for their effectiveness. Available in the United States, HACCP certification can be achieved in the fields of dairy, food service, juice and seafood. To earn HACCP certification, you must prepare for the Certified HACCP Auditor Exam, or CHA Exam, which is offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ); then you must choose a date and take the exam; then you can apply for certification.
The decision to pursue HACCP certification should be based on several factors, including at least five years of work experience in food-related safety management. This five-year requirement is set by the ASQ. Areas of work experience can include helping launch a HACCP project, evaluating objectives for product safety and reviewing a HACCP plan that has been implemented.
You must prepare for the CHA Exam to gain HACCP certification, and several organizations, including the ASQ, offer courses that review what will be covered in the exam. Courses should cover the seven principles involved in HACCP implementation. They also should comply with the regulatory requirements of the current Food Code from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
After you are ready to take the exam to get HACCP certification, you must choose a date and register with the ASQ. The CHA Exam is administered several times a year at conferences or local ASQ chapters, also called sectors. ASQ allows test-takers to use their own reference materials and calculators during the exam, which contains more than 100 questions and can take several hours to complete.
If you pass the CHA Exam, you have two last steps to procure HACCP certification: join the ASQ and pay the membership fees, then apply for the certification and pay the separate fees associated with filing. With all of this paperwork and payment completed, you can secure your HACCP certification. This allows you to work as a designated HACCP auditor in a variety of food-related settings.
The path to HACCP certification does not end with passing the exam and receiving official recognition. The ASQ requires certified HACCP auditors to re-certify every three years. This means that certified auditors must earn a certain number of credits from activities such as teaching, taking a course or attending meetings. With these credits earned, HACCP auditors can file re-certification paperwork and pay the required fees, and their certification will be extended another three years.