Document Control

The development and implementation of a food safety program requires documents and records. Documents are the written policies, procedures and recordkeeping forms that are developed when writing GMP programs or HACCP plans. Records are the result of putting the findings of monitoring, verification and corrective action activities on the forms.

As a food safety program is reviewed and updated to reflect the operations of your facility, there may be out-of-date documents that you need to identify and replace. A procedure must be in place to control all documents and ensure that only current versions are in use.

To be sure personnel are performing their jobs correctly and consistently, it is critical that they are using the proper documents. Using outdated procedures or documents to record information could compromise food safety. For example, if an update is made to add a new piece of equipment to a sanitation schedule and an old schedule without that equipment included is followed, that equipment may not be cleaned, resulting in contamination.

When you develop a detailed, thorough food safety program that controls hazards that may be present or introduced to your product, you invest time and resources. Back up all of your hard work with a good document control strategy.

   

Documents Requiring Control

Examples include:

  • GMP Programs
  • HACCP Plans
  • procedures
  • policies
  • record keeping forms
  • lists/schedules

Document Control Procedure

To ensure correct documents are being used, a written document control procedure should be part of your food safety program.  This procedure will describe how your company controls documents. This procedure does not need to be complicated, but it needs to be detailed enough so staff members understand how documents are prepared, handled and stored.  The following should be included:

  • staff authorized to prepare new documents or make changes to existing documents
  • where to find the documents
  • document control elements used
  • handling of obsolete documents
  • responsibility for reviewing and keeping them current
  • record retention policy
    • where completed records are stored
    • how long completed records are stored

Document Control Elements

The information for document control is usually entered either as a header or footer within your document and should be on each page. This should include:

  • title
  • identification number
  • revision date or number
  • page numbers (ex: page X of Y)

Additional information may be included based on a facility's specific requirements:

  • written by
  • approved by
  • date approved
  • other

Additional Document Control Tools

  • Master List The master list is an important document control tool. It lists all current documents including policies and procedures and their corresponding records and schedules. This list should contain the document identification number, title and current revision date or number. It may also contain the location, authorization and distribution list.
  • Master Binder of Forms You may want to develop a master binder of forms, which contains only the most current versions of documents. Copies of documents can be made only from this binder. This tool can be effective only if it is kept current and used to check document versions that are in use.
  • Log Book A log book is sometimes referred to as a Log Book of Changes. It is a record of changes to a food safety program. A log book is a useful resource during a food safety audit. It should include:
    • the name of the document
    • details of the change
    • who made the change
    • date of the change
    • the document control information for the revised document (the new current version)
    • the name/signature of who authorized the change 
    • assurance that employees affected by the change were retrained

 

Log book entries should be made at the time of the change and not delayed. It is not necessary to track changes to formatting or when correcting typos.

 

For more information, email the CVO/Food Safety Knowledge Centre or call 204-795-8418 in Winnipeg.  

     
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