Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a set of step-by-step instructions for how to carry out operational tasks within a food facility. Following and documenting appropriate SOPs can play an important role in controlling risks related to food safety.
While there is no prescribed format for SOPs and how they are written, it is recommended that they encompass nine core elements:
The purpose of the task – why,
To whom the instructions apply,
When (how often) the task must be completed,
What is needed to carry out the task,
How task must be carried out,
Steps taken to ensure the task is carried out according to the instructions,
What will happen if the instructions are NOT followed or if they are found to be ineffective in accomplishing the purpose of the task,
How implementation of any revisions or corrections to the procedures will be confirmed to be effective,
How all of the above will be documented and made accessible.
In 2021, a team of educators at UC SAREP and UC Davis department of Food Science & Technology developed a series of example SOPs inspired by the operations of food hubs. These SOPs are for guidance and educational purposes only. They are intended as a starting point to be adapted to a food hub’s specific operations and practices, and it is unlikely that they can be adopted by a facility without at least some modifications.