A product release program is a great way to ensure that the finished product that your food business is sending out into the market place is not only going to be safe, but also meet the desired product attributes. At a minimum, your food business should be ensuring that all food products that are produced are safe. A food product can be classified as safe when it does not contain any biological, chemical or physical hazards.
Components of a product release program
Over the years I have reviewed many different types of product release programs. Some have been quite simplistic where others are rather complex. It really depends on how big your food business is, the overall risk of the finished food product and any applicable customer requirements.
Your product release program should include the following:
- A statement on what makes your food product suitable for release. This could be things like all in-process checks have been completed and found to be compliant or final testing for x,y,z attributes by your in-house laboratory.
- A list of the applicable in-process checks that are used to determine compliance.
- A chart or list of responsibilities. This should basically state who is responsible for each of the product release steps. This could be tied to or documented with each of your in-process checks.
- Written procedures on how product is released. Are certain levels of responsibilities
- Records to support that the product release program has been implemented. All product release records should include product name, release date, who released the product and some type of acknowledgment that the finished product is compliant.
- A testing frequency and sample size based on product safety risk and historical supply
Examples of Release Criteria
Here are a few examples of different product release criteria’s. This list is not definitive but provided to give you an idea of where to start.
- The finished product has been packed into the correct packaging
- The finished product is labeled correctly
- The finished product has been cooked to the required temperature
- The finished product has not been subjected to any undeclared allergen cross-contract
- The finished product does not contain any pathogenic microorganisms
- The finished product does not contain any foreign matter
- The finished product has the correct moisture, protein, salt content
- Finished product packaging is not ripped, torn or contaminated.
- The finished product meets the correct temperature profile
- The finished product is the correct shape, colour and smell.
If you have a comprehensive finished product specification documented, it is expected that your food product will comply with the product attributes outlined,
Non-conforming or Quarantined product
If any product is placed into quarantine, your product release program should also include procedures on how this product is released to either the market place, re-work or to waste.
Mapping to Key Standards
- SQF (Edition 7.2) – Clause 2.4.8
- BRC (Issue 7) – Clause 5.7.1
- PrimusGFS (V2.1-2) – Clause 1.5
- Woolworths (Issue 8 Manufacturing) – Clause 5.10
Practice in play
How do you release finished product in your food business? What have you included? Share your methods with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below this post.
This post is a part of the HACCP Mentor Food Safety Compliance 101 series.