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Document and Data Control

Development – To define detail, scope and purpose.

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Training participants will gain a basic understanding of Document and Data Control and its applications within food safety and quality systems. Basic knowledge competency will be verified through successful completion of the accompanying Document and Data Control assessment activity. Basic skill competency can be verified through the Document and Data Control competency checklist available as a resource for this training activity.

Key Definitions For Document and Data Control
- Backup: In information technology, a backup or the process of backing up refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. These additional copies are typically called backups.
- Data: A collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn through the qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables.
- Document: A document provides guidance and/or direction for performing work, making decisions, or rendering judgments which affect the safety or quality of the products or services that customers receive.
- Record: A Record proves that some type of required food safety and quality system action took place. Sometimes documents become records. For instance, Management Review Minutes become the record that a Management Review has taken place.

Document and Data Control Development
When considering the development, documentation and implementation of Document and Data Control within food safety and quality management systems, the following information should be considered to ensure effective outcomes:

What is Data and Documentation?
Documentation is data presented in a form that is meaningful to the recipient. It adds to knowledge and is relevant for the situation. Two types of documentation are policies and procedures. A document requires control if it provides guidance or direction for performing work, making decisions, or rendering judgments which affect the safety or quality of the products or services customers receive. Data becomes documentation when it is transformed to communicate meaning or knowledge, ideas or conclusions. By itself, data is meaningless. The attributes of an effective sample of documentation include accuracy, form, frequency, scope, origin, and time. Attributes of any set of documentation are relevance, completeness and timeliness. In the context of contemporary food safety and quality systems, the term documentation may also be used broadly to include records and digital data.

About Document and Data Control
Document control is one of the most critical components of the quality management system. Effective document and data control ensures that a food business can be confident that they are using the current version of a document, and the information contained in these documents has been approved by management. All documents related to operational food safety and quality programs must be managed appropriately, and must be accessible for the verification of the operational scope of the program. The general requirement for effective document control is for each page to be authorised, and to include an issue date. All documents and monitoring / verification forms should be available in a digital format, and may be photocopied from an original as required. All used forms and documents must be archived, recycled or destroyed appropriately. Procedural and policy documents must be available for general use in a read only format. Copies of this material may be printed, but general access to the alteration of such material must be strictly governed. The review of documents and records must be undertaken at programmed intervals to verify the operation of the food safety program.

The Food Safety and Quality Management System should include specific requirements for Documentation and Data Control, which may include:
- Responsibility and procedures for the management and integrity of Records, Standard Operating Procedures and Work Instructions;
- Responsibility and procedures for the amendments to documentation, general document and data control, handling and storage;
- Responsibility and procedures for how documents and data are protected from damage or loss;
- Responsibility and procedures for how long documents and data are retained. The retention time for documents should be at least until the shelf life expiry of the related products, until any reasonable point at which consumers would be expected to have used or disposed of the product, or as required by legislative or industry requirements;
- Responsibility and procedures for the communication of relevant safety, quality, industry and statutory information to staff and senior management;
- Considerations of legal privilege and confidentiality of all document and data applicable to every food business, including of personnel privacy requirements.

Document registers and Amendment registers are commonly used to provide verification for documentation control.

In an age where computers play a leading role in the management of data and digital information, it is important that systems are implemented and maintained to ensure digital data is protected against loss or corruption. Such data may be securely managed through the implementation of structured system backups, which include defined contacts and responsibilities.

Where an external contracted data or document storage service provider is used, the service provider should be managed through the approved supplier process to ensure appropriate outcomes.

Documentation and records associated with any food business operation should be maintained and retained for a period that exceeds the shelf life of the product, including where final product customers may extend the product’s shelf life. These may include documentation and records for HACCP monitoring, processing, production and distribution. Food industry or regulatory standards may also specify the timeframes for document and record retention commensurate with the products or processes involved. Defined timeframes should also be allocated for the retention and control of obsolete or superseded digital data or files.

Food Safety Program Requirements
The requirements of any science based Food Safety Management System include, but are not limited to the following systemic examples to ensure adherence to relevant legislative requirements and  food industry sector guideline:

Elements that are common to any quality management system include:
- Policy;
- Structure;
- Training;
- Awareness;
- Responsibility;
- Communication;
- Documentation; and
- Verification.

Documentation and Record Keeping requirements for:
- Packaging and labelling procedures that meet current and relevant legislation. Food standards legislation within the country in which the product is intended to be sold must also be considered;
- Written requirements for potentially unsafe production items;
- Preparation or plating time and temperature records;
- Cook chill time and temperature records;
- Holding or display time and temperature records;
- Documented production process training for specified personnel;
- Nominated position responsible for monitoring production process procedures for Preparation or plating times and temperatures, Cool chill times and temperatures and for Holding or display times and temperatures.

Storage of Testing Records and Reports
As with any management system, Good Laboratory Practices rely on well developed document and record control procedures to ensure traceability and appropriate outcomes.

The following requirements should be considered regarding the storage of testing records and reports:
- Record and report archives should be designed and equipped for the accommodation and the secure storage of all relevant notes, data and outcomes of tests conducted, including final reports, quality assurance verification activities and samples and specimens where applicable. Materials stored in such archives should be appropriately indexed to facilitate orderly storage and rapid retrieval when required;
- Only personnel authorised by management should have access to storage archives;
- Movement of material in and out of the archives should be recorded to ensure traceability of items;
- All relevant records and reports should be retained for the period specified by the appropriate authorities or customers.

Training Matrix and Training Records
A record of training should be kept for every employee that undergoes training no matter how short the employment term.  Each record should detail the type of training given, the date, and brief outline of content and signatures of both the trainer and the trainee. Copies of any relevant formal training an employee has undergone externally should also be kept in the training record. Training records should be kept on file for the lifetime of an employee.

A training matrix is a useful document to track and summarise all employees against all the different types of training that may be given. Degrees of competency may also be captured in a training matrix.

If your food business supplies foodstuffs manufactured to a customer’s specifications, it is important to consider any specific Document and Data Control Development requirements in relation to their items.

The "General Content" pages within foodindustrycompliance.com include current and relevant information broken into the following elements: Develop, Document, Implement, Monitor, Corrective Action, Verify, Validate and Skills and Knowledge.

You can use the tabs provided at the top of the page body to navigate between these elements!

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