Documentation and Recordkeeping 

documentation​Written documentation and records are integral parts of an effective food safety system.

Important food safety documents include:

  • Policies that state how food safety risks are managed
  • Standard operating procedures (SOP’s) that detail how to perform specific tasks
  • Records that document important actions and conditions

Policies and SOPs inform everyone on the farm about expectations for food safety. They are useful for teaching new workers what to do. Written records remind workers and managers that the tasks they do each day are important in keeping food safe. Records also provide verification that food was handled properly and show that care was taken with the produce. In the worst-case scenario of a suspected foodborne illness, records can be evidence that show workers followed food safety procedures. Successful operations incorporate food safety documentation and recordkeeping into the regular work of the farm.

Specific documentation and recordkeeping requirements vary depending on whether and which third-party audit is desired, the complexity of the operation. and the risks and practices of a particular farm. The resources below describe what policies, SOPs, and records are recommended for various types of enterprises, and provide examples.​

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Food Safety Begins on the Farm A Grower Self Assessment of Food Safety RisksLinkCornell University
Farm Food Safety Decision Tree ProjectLinkCornell
Kansas State Food-A-Syst: A Food Safety Risk Management Guide for the ProducerLinkKansas State University
Produce Safety Alliance Resources ListLinkProduce Safety Alliance
Univ. of Massachusetts GAPs ManualLinkUniversity of Massachusetts
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Potato Program: GAP InformationLinkUniversity of Maine
FDA Guidance Documents for Produce SafetyLinkFDA
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Farm Food Safety Plan Writing ResourcesLinkProduce Safety Allliance
Write a Food Safety Plan from Penn StateLinkPenn State
Developing a Plan for Third-Party AuditsLinkRutgers University
Food Safety Plan for You (FSP4U)LinkUniversity of Minnesota
Food Safety Plan from Rock Spring FarmpdfRock Spring Farm
Session 1 from webinar "Planning for Success: Food Safety Plan Writing" - Good Agricultural Practices and Written Food Safety Plans - 2015pdfPurdue University
Session 2 from webinar "Planning for Success: Food Safety Plan Writing" - Written Food Safety Plans - Policies, Procedures, and Documentation - 2015pdfPurdue University
Session 3 from webinar "Planning for Success: Food Safety Plan Writing" - Food Safety Protocols - What's Out There - 2015pdfPurdue University
Session 4 from webinar "Planning for Success: Food Safety Plan Writing" - Templates and Other Resources for Food Safety Plan Writing - 2015pdfPurdue University
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HACCP-Based Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Institute of Child NutritionpdfInstitute of Child Nutrition