To Document or not to Document – That is the Question

To Document or not to Document – That is the Question

Hello there from the Food Bites Team…

We have destroyed millions of forests in our quest to make paper. Right? Then we’ve taken this paper, put it through a printer and filed it away inside a cabinet or on a shelf in our office. Right? These “papers” are what we call our procedures and every now and then we dust off the files and present them to an auditor (usually once a year). Right?

Wrong!!! Perhaps the time has come for us to take a look at the purpose of a “documented” procedure… Sometimes it seems as if the effectiveness of our food safety management system is determined by the sheer volume of paperwork we can generate. If only it were that simple.

The best way to root out this problem (pun intended 🤭) is to understand:

  • What is meant by the term documented?
  • When should a process be documented?

In the context of management systems, the term “documented” refers to “information required to be controlled and maintained by an organization (3.31) and the medium on which it is contained

Note 1 to entry: Documented information can be in any format and media, and from any source.

Note 2 to entry: Documented information can refer to:

— the management system (3.25), including related processes (3.36);

— information created in order for the organization to operate (documentation);

— evidence of results achieved (records).” ISO 22000:2018

Although many standards have requirements relating to mandatory procedures, the bulk of these are generated internally based on our own initiative.  Many years ago, it was accepted that there simply had to be a documented procedure for every single thing – truth be told, we’ve seen documented procedures for how to replace a toilet roll or even how to pin memo’s to a noticeboard. We’ve moved on. Or have we?

Our advice is, when in doubt whether a process should be documented or not, always ask yourself “Would the absence of a documented procedure lead to confusion, chaos or inconsistency?”.  If the answer is “yes”, by all means go ahead and write it up.

Finally, we are living in a digital age.  We have access to everything in a digital format which can easily be stored and catalogued in such a way that it is easily retrieved and shared between various stakeholders – at the click, click, click of a mouse.  Next time, before you hit the print button, ask yourself “Is it necessary for this to be printed and filed, or can I store it somewhere on the “Cloud” in a protected format where it will be available for anyone who needs to access it?”.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks and our thoughts go out to every human affected by the pandemic which is ravishing our beautiful world.

In spite of the current Level 4 Lockdown Regulations, we are still running virtual training workshops – we are certainly embracing the digital era.  Our Online Basic Food Safety Training is still available at R100 pp and our Root Cause Analysis Masterclass is begging for your attendance.

Take care and stay safe!

Digitally yours,

The Food Bites Team

PS We could not resist this…

  1. What did the tree do when the bank closed? It started its own branch.
  2. How do trees get online? They just log in.
  3. What did the single tree say to the tree who stood her up? You should have put a ring on it.
  4. What type of tree fits in your hand? A palm tree.
  5. What’s a tree’s favourite dating app? Timber.
  6. Why do you never want to invite a tree to your party? Because they never leaf when you want them to.