21 May 2019 Why is it important to keep Food Safety records?
Anyone involved in the food preparation, retail, and service industry within the UK will confess that keeping safety records is essential. However, when it comes to explaining which records matter, why, and how they should be used, most stakeholders are less informed. We’ll look at why it is essential to keep food safety records.
Compliance to the UK Food Safety Law
According to the UK food safety law, every food business operator (FBO) should undertake an accurate risk assessment of their business operation, identify all probable food safety risks, and take necessary measures to mitigate them. The law, which uses a preventive rather than a policing approach, implicitly requires FBOs to maintain records on the actions they have put in place to comply.
Apart from the importance of having food safety records for inspection and prevention purposes, they are essential in litigation. When things go wrong due to, probably, a food-related epidemic, food safety records are critical because they are the official records of compliance. In a court of law, they are admissible as evidence with the stipulations of verifiable risk assessment.
Every FBO must conduct a formal and verifiable food safety risk assessment of all its operations, from production to distribution. In conducting the assessment, the FBO should use the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system throughout the process. Although several commercial risk assessment systems may be used, they must uphold the principles of HACCP.
The HACCP is the most sought after food-safety risk assessment tool because it is specific to the food industry and focuses on consumer safety. Every HACCP plan has to identify the critical control points which must be controlled by verifiable control measures. Therefore, FBOs should keep records of the diligent application of each food safety critical control point (CCP) identified, and securely store them for future reference. Without accurate and appropriate records, FBOs will have a hard time proving ‘due diligence’ in a court of law, when required.
Due diligence means taking ‘all reasonable precautions,’ and this entails adhering to the quality management system as enunciated in the HACCP. An FBO has to follow the management process of detecting appropriate control measures to effectively avert the risk of food safety tragedies and then setting up necessary management control procedures to ensure everything goes well.
Reasonable precautions can be adequately demonstrated by producing a QMS documentation and adequate HACCP records. The food industry has an established UK Food Standards Agency endorsed format for the required documentation that can be used by FBOs, especially when they want to present their defence in court.
Conclusively, food safety records are essential for FBOs because they demonstrate due diligence, satisfy the requirement of the law, and can be used to defend their business.