Any food safety management system relies on effective information management.
Today, food manufacturers are also required by law to meet stringent recordkeeping requirements. Without effective – ideally cloud-based – document control, they may face harsh consequences for non-compliance.
Relevant data must be captured, stored, analyzed and easily retrieved so that:
- food safety practices can be properly monitored
- risks can be properly identified and addressed
- decisions can be made and implemented quickly
- any food safety issue can be quickly identified and addressed
- recordkeeping practices comply with applicable regulations.
FSMA recordkeeping requirements
In the United States, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – signed into law in 2011 – has shifted the focus from response to food safety issues to prevention.
It requires companies in the food industry to demonstrate, by means of records, that appropriate food safety measures are being taken at relevant points across the food supply chain.
FSMA recordkeeping requirements include:
- records showing effective application of controls to minimize or prevent food safety hazards controlled by the supplier, prior to the receiving facility receiving food
- records verifying implementation of the receiving facility’s food safety plan
- records demonstrating suitable control of identified hazards by the customer(s) of the receiving facility.
Recordkeeping failures may result in official action by the FDA.
GFSI certification: focused on continuous improvement
Elsewhere in the world, food manufacturers are increasingly adopting the Guidance Document of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
The GFSI aims to improve food safety standards through ongoing improvements in food safety management systems.
To comply with the criteria for GFSI certification, companies must have suitable documentation, demonstrating clear, concise and easy-to-understand policies, programs, procedures and records.
Document control essential for compliance
To comply with the FSMA and the GFSI criteria, companies must have suitable document control systems.
Failure can lead to stiff fines – or worse
Where businesses in the food industry can’t produce required documentation, they may:
- fail inspections or audits by official authorities
- be subject to more comprehensive auditing and monitoring
- receive warnings and fines
- ultimately, face closure – and even prosecution if people’s safety is jeopardized.
Poor document control causes hidden costs
Effective document control doesn’t only help ensure compliance. It can also save businesses time and money.
Largely hidden costs caused by poor document control can include:
- time wasted looking for documents
- loss of documents
- document version errors
- lack of traceability
- poor workflows related to invoicing and accounts payable
- delayed orders and delays for customers.
Electronic systems are no guarantee of document control
Even with an electronic system on a shared server drive, document mistakes can occur.
Common problems include:
- lack of control over who changes documents and when
- sharing of documents via email, making it harder to find them and leading to versioning mistakes
- proliferation of versions that lack consistent titles and numbering systems.
Without effective document control, audits are chaotic and more likely to reveal errors.
Document control software from isoTracker
isoTracker offers modular, cloud-based quality management software, including Document Control Software.
The software provides cloud-based document control, with features such as:
- automated version control
- approval workflows, with automated notifications/reminders
- fine-grained control over document access
- centralized, online document archiving
- a full audit history, with details of all document activity
- advanced document security.
The software can stand alone or integrate seamlessly with other isoTracker quality management modules.