Record falsification is very easy to detect to the trained and astute auditor. A lot of the time is it really just about common sense. It still amazes me after so many years of auditing, that I still witness record falsification practices occurring in food business. When I uncover the record falsification, I am always very amused with the reasons provided to me as to why it has occurred.
Common record falsification practices
(1) Same person
The record is completed by the same person 24/7 every day of the year. This would indicate that they never go home and never have holidays.
(2) Records are completed ahead of time.
One of the excuses I have heard for this one is “the person was going on holidays for 2 weeks and knew that nobody would complete the forms while they were away”.
(3) Mismatched record entries
Documented records do not match the indications on the equipment. For example, a thermometer reads to the 0.1oC but all records indicate rounding to the nearest whole number.
(4) Same pen and handwriting
The same pen is used, same hand-writing and records appear at a slant. This is really reminiscent of having to write lines out at school. This practice generally represents that records were completed in say a batch. Records may also be on clean crisp paper which may indicate that the record was not completed within production areas.
(5) Records completed on new forms
The issue date on the form (which records are completed on) is after the date the record was completed. This may indicate that the records have been filled out “in-bulk” or after the activity has taken place.
Consequences of Record Falsification
Now that you have been given an insight into record falsification, I am in no way suggesting that you try them on. It is far easier and more time effective to just fill the record out at the time you did the test or monitoring. Also, keep in mind that there can be penalties for food businesses who are found to be falsifying records and being dodgy.
If your business maintains 3rd-party certification to a GFSI recognised standard, record falsification can lead to having your certificate withdrawn.
Understanding record keeping
If you are just starting out in the food industry, check out our Express Learning on Understanding Record Keeping to find out how to complete food safety and quality compliance records correctly.
6 thoughts on “Top 5 record falsification practices”
Is writing somebody’s else initial on their behalf say at the end of a completed test considered Data Falsification?
Thats why you make sure your initials are a somewhat signiture style, so in court if someone is trying to say you were at fault, your defense can employ forensic handwriting evidence to the contrary.
can you go to jail for falsifying HACCP documents?
Really depends on your location and also the severity of falsification. I am sure that if you are going through legal action, any level of falsification would not help your case.
I work at a plant where falsification is rampant, especally in the temp calibration area, I try to stop it but encounter a lot of pushback from both co-workers and subordinates. What would be penatiles say hypothitically in the north dallas area of texas? asking for a friend 😉
Your local court of law will determine relevant penalties for record falsification. If you have concerns about record falsification you can report directly to your local food safety/health authority.
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