Operational Prerequisite Programmes (OPRPs)

What are Operational Prerequisites?

Most prerequisites are general in nature and their purpose is to ensure the general hygiene conditions of the food business. However, some prerequisites may be identified through the HACCP study as being critical to food safety to control a specific hazard and these are referred to as “Operational Prerequisites” or “OPR”. 

For example, the disinfection of a piece of equipment may be identified as critical to control the hazard of E.coli o157. If there is no control later in the process to prevent these bacteria spreading, this prerequisite is described as an "operational prerequisite" because it is essential for producing safe food.

How are operational prerequisites identified?

OPRPs can be identified using a decision tree. 

Decision Tree supporting identification of critical control points

Example of decision tree to identify Critical Control Points (CCPs)

The flow chart shows an example of a decision tree to identify critical control points (CCPs). The chart consists of labelled boxes connected to each other by arrows, showing a series of questions with Yes or No answers. Answer the questions in sequence to identify whether a particular step in your process is a Critical Control Point.

Question 1. Do control preventative measure(s) exit?

  • Yes: Go to Question 2.
  • No: Is control at this step necessary for safety?
    • Yes: Modify step, process or product, then go back to Question 1.
    • No: Not a CCP. Stop and proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.

Question 2. Is the step specifically designed to eliminate or reduce the likely occurrence of a hazard to an acceptable level? (Acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be defined within the overall objectives in identifying the CCPs of HACCP plan.)

  • Yes: This is a Critical Control Point. Stop here.
  • No: Go to Question 3.

Question 3. Could contamination with identified hazard(s) occur in excess of acceptable level(s) or could these increase to unacceptable levels? (Acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be defined within the overall objectives in identifying the CCPs of HACCP plan.)

  • Yes: Go to Question 4
  • No: Not a CCP. Stop and proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.

Question 4. Will a subsequent step eliminate identified hazard(s) or reduce likely occurrence to an acceptable level? (Acceptable and unacceptable levels need to be defined with the overall objectives in identifying the CCPs of HACCP plan).

  • Yes: Not a CCP. Stop and proceed to the next identified hazard in the described process.
  • No: This is a Critical Control Point. Stop here.

Comparison of pre-requisite programmes (PRPs), Operational pre-requisite programmes (OPRPs) and Critical Control Points (CCPs)

This table compares different kinds of control measures. The information comes from a Commission Notice (2016/C 278/01) on the implementation of food safety management systems.

In this table "corrective action" means action to eliminate the cause of a detected non-compliance or other undesirable situation, while "correction" means action to eliminate a detected non-compliance.  

Comparison table

Type of control measure Pre-requisite programme (PRP) Operational pre-requisite programme (OPRP) Critical Control Point (CCP)
Scope Measures related to creating the environment for safe food; measures impacting food suitability and safety Measures related to the environment and /or product (or combination of measures) to prevent contamination, or to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards to an acceptable limit in the end product. These measures are implemented after the implementation of PRPs. s for OPRP: Measures related to the environment and /or product (or combination of measures) to prevent contamination, or to prevent, eliminate or reduce hazards to an acceptable limit in the end product. These measures are implemented after the implementation of PRPs.
Relation to hazards Not specific to any hazard Specific to each hazard or group of hazards As for OPRP: Specific to each hazard or group of hazards
Determination

Development based on

  • Experience
  • Reference documents (such as guides or scientific publications) 
  • Hazard or hazard analysis
Based on the hazard analysis taking PRPs into account. CCPs and oPRPs are product and/or process specific As for OPRP: Based on the hazard analysis taking PRPs into account. CCPs and oPRPs are product and/or process specific
Validation Not necessarily carried out by Food Business Operator (FBO). For example, a cleaning products manufacturer has validated the efficiency of the product and determined product spectrum and instructions of use – FBO has to follow instructions and keep technical specifications of product. Validation has to be carried out (in many cases, guides to good practice provide guidance on a validation methodology or give ready to use validation material) As for OPRP: Validation has to be carried out (in many cases, guides to good practice provide guidance on a validation methodology or gives ready to use validation material)
Criteria No criteria Measurable or observable criteria Measurable critical limit
Monitoring Where relevant and feasible Monitoring of the implementation of control measures: usually recorded As for OPRP: Monitoring of the implementation of control measures: usually recorded
Loss of control: Corrections or Corrective actions Corrective actions and/or corrections of PRPs where relevant Corrective actions on the process. Possible corrections on the product (case by case) 
Records kept
Pre-set corrections on the product. Possible corrective actions on the process 
Records kept
Verification Scheduled verification of implementation Scheduled verification of implementation, verification of achievement of planned hazard control As for OPRP: Scheduled verification of implementation, verification of achievement of planned hazard control