Food delivery records: what you need to know

Updated: Aug 31

Food deliveries (and their records) are often an overlooked aspect of food safety and health & safety management. But handling them properly is key to eliminating risk and ensuring compliance with the law.

Receiving goods can introduce a hazard in your premises such as pathogens or pests. That’s why it’s so important to check the goods thoroughly before accepting them, as well as keeping accurate food delivery records.

Furthermore, documenting food deliveries enables traceability in case there’s a case of food poisoning or a food complaint.

yellow vehicle to illustrate food delivery

HACCP - receiving food

According to the Food Standards Agency, your food management procedures should be based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) - and this applies to receiving food too. HACCP involves the following steps:

  • Identifying what could go wrong and any risks to food safety

  • Identifying critical control points to ensure risks are removed or reduced to a level that’s considered safe

  • Establishing critical limits

  • Establishing corrective actions, i.e. deciding what actions to take if things go wrong

  • Keeping records and establishing documentation to demonstrate your FSMS is being properly implemented and managed in an effective manner

Checking food deliveries

It’s vital to inspect food deliveries before accepting them.

Did you know? The main hazard associated with food deliveries is the presence of contaminated items (could be microbiological, chemical, allergenic or even physical contamination). Another common hazard is bacteria growth caused by delays that happen between unloading the food and refrigerating it.

What to look for when receiving a delivery:

  • Temperature:

  • Chilled food critical limit: at or below 8°C

  • Frozen food critical limit: at or below -15°C

  • Food freshness: always check best-before and use-by dates

  • Delivery vehicle: check that it looks clean and hygienic

  • Sensory aspects: odour and colour of the food

  • Signs of pest infestation

  • Food packaging integrity and correct labelling

  • Allergen: ensure that cross contamination does not occur

  • Paperwork: make sure the information is accurate and complete

Remember to wash and disinfect your thermometers before and after using them to avoid contamination.

Measuring temperatures is key to ensuring food safety. This is because bacteria can multiply very quickly between 5°C-63°C. This temperature interval is known as the “danger zone”.

If for any reason you are receiving a hot-food delivery, make sure the temperature is superior to 63°C.

Do not accept a delivery if it contains:

  • Out-of-date food

  • Evidence of pest activity

  • Damaged packaging

  • Frozen food that is thawing

  • Perishable foods with a temperature above 8°C

Another important thing to check is if non-food items (e.g chemicals) have been kept separate from food in the delivery vehicle. This is to avoid chemical contamination of food.

If a delivery cannot be accepted, make sure to notify your supplier of any issues.

Make sure to store the delivered food in the appropriate place, may it be freezer, fridge, or dry storage.

three delivery boxes

What to use for documentation? Food delivery record sheets?