How to design a practical document register

A document register is not only a requirement of many customer standards but it also helps to keep your food safety, HACCP and quality documentation organized and controlled. Welcome to session #11 of the HACCP Mentor 101 series. In this session we go back to basics with document registers – what they are, why you need one and the best format to use.

What is a document register?

A document register is really just a list of all the documents that exist within your food business. That’s it in the simplest of formats. You can then expand on this list further by adding other components.

Practical format

So, what makes a good document register? The first and easiest place to start is how your register is set up or formatted. It should contain the following sections (or columns):

  • Document Name
  • Document Number
  • Document Date
  • Document Version
  • Last Update
  • Authorization

For easy navigation, I like to separate my register into the type of document it is for example policy, procedure, form etc.

Combined document register

One of the best actions that I have implemented into my client’s food businesses is to have a combined document register. There are no rules (that I know of) that say each register has to be separate. This is formatted in a spreadsheet and allows for the separation and easy identification of registers for things like chemicals, specifications, amendments or labels. To get a copy of my document register template please click here.

Mapping to Key Standards

Although the following list is not exhaustive, it provides guidance on the requirement for document registers in common customer standards and legislation. You can help build this list by leaving a comment below this post

  • SQF (Edition 7.2) – Clause 2.2.1 Document Control (
  • BRC (Issue 7) – 3.2 Documentation Control (3.2.1)
  • WQA (Issue 8 Manufacturing) –  2.4 Document Register

Audit for Accuracy

How accurate is your current document register? The best way to answer this questions is to complete a mini audit. Grab 10 – 20 random documents and cross reference the dates and versions against your current register. You can repeat this process each week until you get through all of your documents. Let me know how you went by leaving a comment below this post.

Level Up

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