Critical limits CCP


Establish critical limits for CCP’s – Principle 3

Critical limits must be specified and validated for each CCP. In some cases, more than one critical limit will be elaborated at a particular step. Criteria often used include measurements of temperature, time, moisture level, pH, Aw, available chlorine, and sensory parameters such as visual appearance and texture. Where HACCP guidance developed by experts has been used to establish the critical limits, care should be taken to ensure that these limits fully apply to the specific operation, product or groups of products under consideration. These critical limits should be measurable.

This step involves establishing a criterion that must be met for each preventive measure associated with a CCP. Critical limits can be thought of as boundaries of safety for each CCP and may be set for preventive measures such as temperature, time, physical dimensions, aw, pH, and available chlorine. Critical limits may be derived from sources such as regulatory standards and guidelines, scientific literature, experimental studies, and consultation with experts.

Criteria Most Frequently Used for Critical Limits:

  • Time
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • aw
  • pH
  • Titratable acidity
  • Preservatives
  • Salt concentration
  • Available chlorine
  • Viscosity


Critical Limit CCP

A critical limit is defined as a criterion that must be met for each preventive measure associated with a CCP. Each CCP will have one or more preventive measures that must be properly controlled to ensure prevention, elimination, or reduction of hazards to acceptable levels. The food establishment is responsible for using competent authorities to validate that the critical limits chosen will control the identified hazard.


Target Level

In some cases, variables involved in food preparation may require certain target levels to ensure that critical limits are not exceeded. For example, a preventive measure and critical limit may be an internal product temperature of 71°C (160°F) during one stage of a process. The oven temperature, however, may be 71 ±3°C (160±°F); thus an oven target temperature would have to be greater than 74°C (165°F) so that no product receives a cook of less than 71°C (160°F).


Application Example

An example for Principle 3 is the cooking of beef patties.

The process should be designed to eliminate the most heat-resistant vegetative pathogen which could reasonably be expected to be in the product. Criteria may be required for factors such as temperature, time, and meat patty thickness. Technical development of the appropriate critical limits requires accurate information on the probable maximum numbers of these microorganisms in the meat and their heat resistance. The relationship between the CCP and its critical limits for the meat patty example is shown below:

Process StepCCPCritical Limits CCP
CookingYESMinimum internal temperature of patty: 68°C / 155°F
Broiler temperature: ______°C / ______°F
Time; rate of heating/cooling
(e.g., conveyer belt speed in): cm/min: ______ ft/min ______
Patty thickness: ______ cm / ____in
Patty composition: e.g., % Fat, % Filler
Oven humidity: ______% RH

HACCP check list

  • How are the critical limits established?
  • Is there evidence (experimental data, literature references etc.)?
  • What validation exists to confirm that the critical limits control the identified hazards?
  • Have critical limits been established for each CCP?
  • How do they differ from operational limits?


HACCP plans examples





Apple Juice

Egg Packing Centre

Grower Farm

Orange Juice

Fruit Salad

HACCP Plan Catering

HACCP Plan Hotel Catering

HACCP Restaurant Full Plan


Related records

Supplier Approval (HACCP Only)

HACCP audit checklist

HACCP Team meeting template