Recording noncompliance with food safety guidelines

Issues of noncompliance with food safety policies happen with regards to fresh produce. Here’s how to go about handling situations when food safety guidelines are not followed.

When trying to maintain food safety in growing and shipping produce, things seldom if ever go according to plan. Produce shipping trucks might show up dirty. Containers may return from the packer dirty or in disrepair. From a food safety perspective, Michigan State University Extension says recording the noncompliance or nonconformance is considered the best practice.

At a minimum, this record of noncompliance should include the date, supplier, nature of the nonconformance and what the recipient did about the nonconformance. Other things that might also be helpful are the actual person’s name who received the goods and a proposal of changes that the supplier may wish to do to come into compliance.

There are a lot of ways to report nonconformances. The scale of a produce grower’s operations should dictate the form this takes. In small operations, a simple log sheet with the required information may be sufficient to document problems and satisfy an audit. For larger operations, a full page form for each nonconformance might be appropriate. This could include a portion of the full page to be filled out and given to the source of the noncompliance to direct changes going forward.

Some buyers prescribe such a system of feedback in their quality control specifications, so always check with your buyer to make sure your food safety manual will conform to their specifications as well.

If you have difficulty crafting a nonconformance log or have general food safety issues, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at or 517-788-4292.

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