Standard Operating Procedures ensure farm workers do something the same way every time

It’s important for sanitary procedures to be performed consistently from worker to worker and written in the food safety manual. Keep the following ideas in mind when crafting Standard Operating Procedures.

The backbone of a good food safety manual is a set of repeatable Standard Operating Procedures. Not only are these essential for a food safety manual, but they can help different employees perform the same task in a more routine and predictable way. Standardization among employees can lead to a more productive farming operation, too.

When creating Standard Operating Procedures, it’s best to watch another person perform the task and write it up based on what you see the person doing. After you get a draft, have another worker who performs the task review it for inaccuracies. The goal is to create a working document that specifies all the steps to a particular job from start to finish that a new employee could pick up and perform and be about the same as an existing employee. Also, Michigan State University Extension recommends reviewing all Standard Operating Procedures annually to ensure they have not changed appreciably.

The auditor is looking for evidence of a system written in the food safety manual to minimize incidence of produce contamination, visual evidence that it is taking place and documentation that it has been taking place in the past. If you are able to show evidence of these three components in place in all aspects of your farm, you will pass an audit.

If you have specific questions about writing a Standard Operating Procedure or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at or 517-788-4292. To obtain a guidance document explaining how to craft a Standard Operating Procedure, ask for “Standard Operating Procedures: A Writing Guide” from Penn State University Press.

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