Document control and the Food Industry

Document control can be the thorn of any food business if you do not have a good system in place. As your business grows and you start to document more and more systems and procedures, document control can become “out-of-control”.  From my auditing experience, there are some common document control issues that I see all the time. They are not complex issues to overcome if you know what you need to focus on.  Document control issues in the Food industryHere are my top 5 document control problems:

No dates or document name written on the document

Dates and document names serve the purpose of document identification. The document name (bit of a no brainer) tells us what the document is. The date on a document provides a mechanism for version control.

The document register does not contain all documents

All documents within you food safety program need to be on the document register. Documents includes business policies and procedures. Forms should also be included especially CCP monitoring forms. Any external documents that you use to support your food safety program should be listed in the document register.

Documents do not comply with the food business “Document Control” procedure.

As a general rule, a procedure should be documented on how your food business will achieve document control. The expectation is that you do what you say you are going to do. For example, if you have written that “all documents will be dated”, then you are required to ensure that all documents are dated.

Obsolete, out of date, or superseded documents

This can become a major issue especially when out-of-date documents are provided during the food safety HACCP audit. The danger for your business is when staff use out of date, obsolete or superseded documents. For example, a recipe is changed and updated, but staff continue to use the old recipe.

References stated within the document to do marry to the correct document

Document control at this level goes a little deeper and can get very messy. It normally happens when one document is updated but any linked document is not updated. As your document system gets bigger and bigger this can become more of an issue.

As part of your internal audit and before your certification audit, I suggest a review of your documents to check for any of the above problems. Attention to detail in this area can save you a document control nightmare and could just avoid getting a control corrective action request (CAR).

If you are looking for a food safety compliance document navigation system, check out HACCP link


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