Keeping production records is an investment of time and money and, as with all aspects of
running a small food processing business, the benefits must outweigh the costs. There is no
point in recording information for its own sake and records must be used if they are to have
any value. This means that the owner must understand why the information is collected and
what it can be used for. The time, cost and effort spent getting information and keeping
records must be related to the scale and profitability of the business. Many micro-scale
processors keep all the information in their heads and do not keep any written records, but the
problem with this is that no-one else can help run the business during times of illness or
absence. For most processors, the benefits of keeping production records outweigh the cost
• Records allow individual costs to be identified, which informs changes to a product or
process to optimise profits.
• They allow product quality to be monitored and controlled.
• They provide a basis for product pricing and wage levels; and
• They provide evidence of any pilferage or theft so that stock control or
production procedures can be modified.
• They can be used to identify trends in demand and profitability.
Any information that is collected should be accurate, and staff who are required to collect
information should know its value and why it is being collected. Processors should give the
responsibility for information collection and record keeping to people who have the necessary
skills and aptitude, but they should also put in place systems of checks to ensure that staff
keep accurate records and they are not able to falsify records to conceal theft (e.g. ensure that
the same person does not have responsibility for keeping records of purchases, levels of stocks
and use of materials). The owner should also ensure that all records are kept up to date and
check the arithmetic for accuracy.
There is no standard or ‘correct’ way of keeping records and processors need to decide what
types of records are appropriate their particular enterprises. For most small-scale food
businesses, record keeping involves writing in books or ledgers, but larger operations may use
computer spreadsheets or commercially available programmes that can save time and do more
complicated analyses of the business. Production records should be linked to other documents
used in the business, including customers’ orders for products, quality assurance records,
stockroom records and dispatch/delivery records. This allows an order for a product to be
traced through each stage of production, storage and delivery using identifying numbers, such
as batch numbers or Goods Received Note numbers (GRNs) as shown in Table 7.5. This
traceability allows a processor to identify which raw materials and ingredients were used in a
product, when it was made, and the testing that was done before the product was cleared for
dispatch to the customer.
The main production records should show the following movement of materials into and out of
the storeroom: when they are used in production; what is produced each day, including
confirmation that the correct weights of ingredients have been added and the correct
processing conditions have been used; the batch numbers for products and what happens to
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