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Record keeping for your preventive control plan


What is a record?

A record is a type of document that permanently captures information demonstrating that an action was taken. It can be in either hard copy (printed) or electronic (digital) format. The information can take various forms such as text, figures, graphics, data pictures and videos.

In a In a Preventive Control Plan (PCP), systematic record keeping simplifies the retrieval of records when they are needed. Record keeping is the seventh principle of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.

Records are documents that provide an accurate history of the food and its manufacturing process. They provide evidence that the PCP is implemented and working effectively.

Keep in mind

The SFCR requires preventive control plan records to be kept for 2 years (3 years for records related to the processing of shelf stable low-acids foods in hermetically sealed containers).


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) created this document as guidance to help food businesses comply with the requirements of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

It's your choice

You may use other guidance documents that have been developed by provincial governments, industry associations, international partners or academia. Always ensure that the record keeping guidance document you choose is relevant for your particular business, product or products, and market requirements.

What is included

This document outlines generic best practices for keeping records. It also outlines:

Refer to the Tell me more! section for additional sources of information that may help you establish your record keeping procedures.

What is not included

The examples provided are not exhaustive. The records retained vary for each business. For this reason the document does not specify the manner in which the information is recorded. For example, for a particular critical control point or other control measure, one business may choose to capture monitoring activities on one record and verification activities on another, while another business may choose to capture both activities on the same record.

Roles and responsibilities

Food businesses are responsible for complying with the law. They demonstrate compliance by ensuring that the commodities and processes for which they are responsible meet regulatory requirements. If a written PCP is required, the food business develops a PCP with supporting documents, monitors and maintains evidence of its implementation, and verifies that all control measures are effective.

The CFIA verifies the compliance of a food business by conducting activities that include inspection, and surveillance. When non-compliance is identified, the CFIA takes appropriate compliance and enforcement actions.

The purpose of records

Accurate record keeping is essential to the application of a preventive control plan. Records enable you to confirm easily and with confidence that your preventive control plan is implemented and working effectively. Records can also help you improve your preventive control plan by providing a means for you to, for example:

The records you keep will be unique to your food business depending on the size of your operation, the food you produce or import, and the design of your PCP. Following are some examples of records.

If you already have it, use it!

The Codex HACCP guideline states that, "a simple record-keeping system can be effective and easily communicated to employees. It may be integrated into existing operations and may use existing paperwork, such as delivery invoices and checklists to record, for example, product temperatures."

Integrity of records

The following practices help ensure hard copy and electronic records are complete, useful and accurate:

Electronically-generated records

In order to ensure the integrity and authenticity of electronically-generated monitoring data, an electronic recording and data storage system should:

Electronic signatures

An electronic signature is a secure electronic means of indicating the specific person who created the record. It may consist of a combination of letters, characters, numbers or other symbols that are unique to the person making the signature.

Good practices for electronic signatures include the following:

Record keeping procedures

Record keeping procedures are considered a best practice to help you manage your records.

Record keeping procedures:

Quick tip

Record keeping procedures can be standalone, or you can incorporate them into other procedures, such as in a monitoring procedure.

Tell me more! Further reading

The following references contain information that helps explain food safety controls, demonstrates how to develop them, and provides examples. The CFIA is not responsible for the content of documents that are created by other government agencies or international sources.

CFIA references

Other references

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