How to manage food rework in your business

Food rework practices can vary from food business to food business. Depending on your industry category, using food rework may be a daily activity, where for others, the practice maybe be a little more sporadic. Regardless of the frequency, you need to have a plan in place to manage rework.

What is food rework?

The US Code of Federal Regulation, defines food rework as being “clean, unadulterated food that has been removed from processing for reasons other than insanitary conditions or that has been successfully reconditioned by reprocessing and that is suitable for use as food”.

Examples of food rework can include pastry scrap added to new pastry, day old bread crumbed into stuffing mixture, minced meat into patties or whole produce into a sliced produce product.

Food hazards

There are several hazards associated with food rework that is not managed, handled, stored or used correctly. These can include allergen, microbiological and physical contamination along with a loss of traceability. To learn about food allergens and their impact, click here.

Implications of contamination can range from your food business having to perform a food recall to illness or injury sustained by your customer.

Basic controls for rework

To ensure that food rework remains safe and suitable at all times there are some basic controls that need to be implemented by your food business. These include

  • Identifying rework – make sure that the actual food rework is always clearly identifiable. Use clear, indelible labelling to ensure everyone in your food business knows what the rework is.
  • Good storage practices – all rework should be stored to not cause any type of contamination.
  • Recipe formulation control – it is imperative that you know what food rework was added to what food production batch.
  • Implement traceability – batch coding control and linking back to original raw materials is required to ensure full traceability can be supported, both forwards and backwards.
  • Avoiding continuous production – have a clear defined break from one production run to the next. This will help rework use to be defined with start and end points.
  • Maintain records – all food rework should be recorded as to it origin, rework classification (or reason for rework designation) and usage.
  • Documented procedures – include all aspects of food rework including storage, identification, traceability, prevention of contamination, shelf life attributes, conditions of rework, staff training.

Testing your rework systems

One of the easiest ways to test your rework systems is to perform a food traceability activity. Make sure to include both forward and backwards traceability. To learn more about food traceability please click here.

Do you have a plan for managing rework?

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Do you have a food rework plan in place? Do you know what rework takes place in your food business? If you don’t know, take the time to find out. If you do, fantastic! Take this opportunity to review your plan for adequacy and relevance. Share your insights with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.


By | 2017-05-09T14:21:17+00:00 May 9th, 2017|4 Comments


  1. Sue Carter May 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    You can be a hero by reducing waste, but a villain if quality becomes inconsistent: depending on your product you may have to consider appearance, taste and texture over shelf life and set a maximum rework percentage , or even limit the number of times trimmings, underweights etc can go round..
    You may have to consider how much processing an ingredient has already had before permitting it in rework, and watchout when ingredients get changed..
    Best practice would be a shelf life validation not only with ingredients close to code, but with the maximum amount of rework in it to ensure you haven’t overcooked, broken an emulsion, oxidised or mechanically damaged components in strange ways that show up in taste texture appearance or other customer performance criteria 🙂

    • HACCP Mentor May 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      Great insights Sue! Thanks for sharing with the HACCP Mentor community

  2. Deepak.Bhosale May 11, 2017 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Just to add on the rework. Can be identified differently as
    Recycle- This can be reused in same product
    Rework- Can be used in other product
    Reject- cannot be used in either, hence to be discarded

    • HACCP Mentor May 12, 2017 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      The 3 “R’s” is a great way to give guidance Deepak. Thanks for sharing.

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