The Implementation of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Program in an Animal Food Operation
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 1999
Joseph E. Rindler
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA


Quality assurances are becoming an integral part of exotic animal facilities. The concept of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) can be used to produce priorities and procedures for food safety and quality control, leading to the prevention of contamination and cross-contamination of food products and equipment to reach higher hygiene standards. By raising these standards, the risks of possible illness related to food can be reduced.


In the 1950s, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) was developed by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration to analyze the hazards of space flight. These principles were also used to produce food for the space program. The United States Department of Agriculture ruled in 1996 that all raw meat and poultry processing plants must implement HACCP programs.8 In 1997, Walt Disney World® Resort instituted HACCP in their Food and Beverage Department. The Disney Animal Kingdom Forage Warehouse with the Walt Disney World® Environmental Health developed a HACCP program for animal food preparation. This program was implemented in April 1999.

HACCP is a system of process controls to identify potential hazards and monitor procedures. It consists of seven steps: 1) Hazard analysis, 2) Identifying critical control points (CCP), 3) Establishing the critical limit, 4) Monitoring CCP using CCP data to effectively control processes, 5) Taking corrective action, 6) Record keeping, and 7) Verification of methods.


By following the seven food safety principles utilized for the Walt Disney World® Resort’s HACCP Program, the Forage Warehouse operation was analyzed.

Step 1: Conduct a Hazard Analysis

Hazard is defined as any microbiologic, chemical or physical property that may cause an unacceptable animal health risk. Examples: E. coli and Salmonella spp. on raw meats and eggs (microbiologic hazard), food exposed to a cleaning compound (chemical hazard), and metal in food (physical hazard). By evaluating each procedure the Forage Warehouse performs, hazards of significance and all associated preventive measures were identified and listed. The risk of encountering each hazard was then assessed.

Step 2: Identify Critical Control Points (CCP)

CCP are any point or procedure in a specific food process at which control can be applied and a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels. Forage Warehouse CCPs included contamination and cross-contamination, cleaning of the equipment and facility, cooking and cooling, storage and handling, and thawing and handling raw animal products.

Step 3: Establish Critical Limits

Critical limits are one or more prescribed tolerances or criteria that must be met to ensure that a critical control point effectively eliminates or controls a microbiologic, chemical, or physical hazard. The Forage Warehouse plan identified critical limits with zero tolerances and criteria associated with time and temperature. The CCPs with a zero tolerance critical limit are contamination and cross-contamination, cleaning the equipment and facilities, handling raw animal products, and handling of food products. CCPs which use the criterion of time and temperature are cooking and cooling, thawing raw animal products, and storage of food products.

Specific Time and Temperature Criteria

  • When cooking animal products center temperature must reach 165°F.
  • When cooling, the item’s temperature must drop from 140°F to 70°F within 2 h and from 70°F to 41°F within 4 h.
  • Animal products being thawed must maintain a temperature below 41°F. Raw animal products must be maintained below 41°F when preparing and proportioning animal product for diets.
  • Storage temperatures were established a: 33–41°F for browse cooler, 33–41°F for produce cooler, 0–20°F for freezer, 55–70°F for grain room, and 33–41°F for refrigerators in animal holding facilities. Temperature for handling food products are set as 0–30°F for freezer trucks, 33–41°F for cooler trucks delivering animal products, and 33–45°F for coolers delivering non-animal products.

Step 4: Establish CCP Monitoring Requirements

Monitoring is defined as a planned sequence of observations or measurements of critical limits designed to produce an accurate record and intended to ensure that the critical limit or criteria maintain product safety.

Step 5: Establish Corrective Actions

Corrective action is defined as a planned action that is implemented when monitoring indicates that there is a deviation from an established critical limit or criteria. At the Forage Warehouse, deviation for CCPs with zero tolerance is disciplinary action. The corrective action for cooking criterion is to continue to heat until the product reaches the correct temperature and for cooling and raw meat if the criteria are not met, the corrective action is to dispose of the product. If the storage temperature is not met, then the action requires moving the product to a safer environment and immediately contacting maintenance. If the delivery temperature criteria are not met, then action will be addressed with the product vendor.

Step 6: Establish Record-keeping System

The record keeping system consists of a series of daily and weekly checklists to monitor CCPs. These include HACCP temperature logs, and accountability lists. These records are required to be maintained at the supervisor’s office for a minimum of 2 wk.

Step 7: Establish Verification Procedures

The HACCP system in place at the Forage Warehouse will be reviewed by the Walt Disney World® Environmental Health staff on a bi-annual basis. The verification process will include an in-depth inspection of the facility and testing for microbes.

Upon completion of the step-by-step analysis, a manual was designed to train the Forage Warehouse staff. This manual includes an introduction to HACCP, Standard Operational Procedures for all processes at the Forage Warehouse with corrective actions if critical limits are not maintained, and a sample of the forms utilized for documentation of CCP. A 1-h class was also developed to train the staff.


By implementing a HACCP plan for an animal food operation, the risks of a possible hazard contamination during food handling and preparation can be reduced.


Standards for production and handling of food fed to captive exotic animals are generally lower than those for humans. There are many reports of food hazards leading to the illness and/or deaths of captive exotic species. Accidental contamination of felid diets with ethylene glycol has been reported,10,11 scombroid poisoning from improper storage temperature of mackerel1,5 and mycotoxin poisoning in grains, grain by-products, and forage2 have all been documented in captive species. Most still need to be tested for contaminates during manufacturing. Even with the knowledge of possible contamination, the implementation of a HACCP plan will greatly reduce the risk of food-related illness.

The exact number of animals that are affected by food-related illness in animal holding facilities is unclear. This is due to the fact that most foodborne bacteria have several vectors of infection (e.g., feces and water), and in many cases the evidence (contaminated food) is consumed. In addition, many foodborne bacteria cause mild illness which resolves spontaneously. Fatal septicemia caused by Streptococcus zooepidemicus has been reported in brindled bandicoots (Isoodon macrourus), a tree shrew (Tupaia glis), and an elephant shrew (Elephantulus rufescens).9 Salmonellosis outbreaks in zoos have been reported especially among felids.12 Infant animals are particularly susceptible to salmonellosis as well as other foodborne microbes.6 Proper food management can prevent illness.

In the Forage Warehouse operation, two of the most important critical control points are maintaining and handling meat products below 41°F and eliminating potential cross-contamination points between animal and non-animal products. Salmonella, E. coli, Enterobacter freundii, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Streptococcus sp. have been all cultured from several horsemeat-based diets.3,7 Testing on raw chicken yielded E. coli and Serratia odorifera.7 By maintaining the core temperature of meat products below 41°F during thawing and handling, microbial growth can be slowed. The Forage Warehouse kitchen is large enough to allow a total separation between animal and nonanimal products including a separate preparation table and thawing cooler as well as separate staff. If the same equipment, prep table, and staff are utilized for meat and nonmeat product preparation, then a thorough cleaning and disinfecting plan should be developed and implemented, as well as proper handwashing practices. Food types should be separated during storage. Animal products should be placed in covered leak-proof containers and on the bottom if stored on the same shelf with non-animal products to prevent contact with dripping juice and/or blood.

Another important critical point was cross-contamination between departments. Whether an animal food operation delivers the food or it is picked up by the animal care staff, the food facility and its staff can be possible transmitters for disease between buildings. Foot baths should be utilized at all times and food prep staff should have minimal contact with animal areas. For facilities that utilize animal care staff for food preparation and delivery, this should be done prior to contact with the animals.

Implementing a HACCP plan is not expensive. The only resource needed is the time to analyze all possible hazards, to determine acceptable and unacceptable risks, to take corrective action, to ensure training, and verification of the plan.


This paper was prepared with the help of Walt Disney World® Resort Environmental Health, Disney Animal Kingdom Veterinary Service, and Forage Warehouse staff.

Literature Cited

1.  Baer, D.J. 1989. Toxins in plant and animal products. Proc. Eighth Dr. Scholl Conf. Nutrition of Captive Wild Animals, Pp. 23–25.

2.  Cheeke, P.R. and L.R. Shull 1998. Natural Toxicants in Feeds, Forages, and Poisonous Plants. Interstate Publishers, Inc., Danville, IL.

3.  Clyde, V.L., E. Ramsay, and D. Bemis 1995. Fecal shedding of Salmonella in exotic felids. Joint Conf. AAZV/WDA/AAWV Pp. 449.

4.  Dymsza, H.A., Y. Shimizu, F.E. Russel, and H.D. Graham. 1980. Poisonous marine animals. In: Safety of Foods. Second Ed. AVI Publishing Co., Westport, CT., Pp. 625–651

5.  HACCP Manual. Revised 1998. Walt Disney World® Resort Environmental Health Department.

6.  Meier, J.E. and W. Sanborn 1981. Preliminary report on management and treatment of salmonellosis with trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole in an exotic animal nursery. J. Zoo An. Med. 13:26–29.

7.  Pond, J. 1986. The results of microbiological culture of a commercial frozen meat based animal and whole frozen chicken thawed by various methods. Proc. Sixth and Seventh Dr. Scholl Conf. on Nutrition of Captive Animals, Pp. 69–72.

8.  Question and Answers/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems. 1998. U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. (22 Feb. 1999). (VIN editor: link could not be accessed on 3/8/21).

9.  Shaw, M., R.J. Montali, and M. Bush. 1984. Streptococcus zooepidemicus in small carnivorous mammals fed uncooked horsemeat. J. Zoo An. Med. 15(4):161–164

10.  Silberman, M. 1977. Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning in captive cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) population. Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet., Pp.154–161.

11.  Stoskopf, M.K., J.D. Strandberg, and F.M. Loew.1978. Renal oxalosis in large felids maintained on a commercial diet. Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet., Pp.154–161.

12.  Wallach, J.D. and W.J. Boever. 1983. Diseases of Exotic Animals. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, Pp. 365–366.


Speaker Information
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Joseph E. Rindler
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA

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