Record keeping has increasingly become an integral part of life on every farm. Records are kept for a number of reasons ranging from completing the tax return to knowing and improving the physical and financial performance of your business. However, there are a number of records relating to food safety which all farmers must keep.

These records can help to quickly identify the origin of a feed or food related problem and allow action to be taken to resolve it with minimal disruption to farm businesses. Failure to hold and properly maintain such records could result in financial penalties or potentially prosecution.

Food Hygiene
EC Regulation 852/2004, which came into force on 1 Jan 2006, requires all primary producers to keep certain records relating to food safety controls on their farm. For dairy farmers, these records are inspected as part of a normal dairy hygiene inspection. For other farmers, they are sought as part of primary producer hygiene inspections.

Cross compliance
Meeting the requirements of the hygiene regulations is also part of your obligations under cross compliance. In particular the Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) 10 Food and Feed law inspection will require you to present your records linked to food safety. These will include veterinary medicine records, pesticide application records and traceability records for food and feed. There is a financial penalty in the form of a reduction in the single farm payment where during a cross compliance inspection records are not presented or are inadequate. Cross compliance inspections are usually carried out without prior notice.


1. Traceability records for food and feed
Records of Inputs – including all food, feed and food producing animals and substances incorporated into Food/feed.
Detailing in particular:

  1. Name and address of supplier
  2. Nature and quantity of products supplied
  3. Date of delivery of inputs to the farm

Records of Outputs – including all food, feed and food producing animals. Detailing in particular:

  1. Name and address of customer
  2. Nature and quantity of products supplied
  3. Date products left the farm

Records of Animal Feed purchased and fed to animals. For compound feed purchased from feed mills, the delivery dockets will be an adequate record. You must only source feed from establishments that are registered/approved.

2. Veterinary medicine records
This includes the records of all veterinary medicines purchased and used. For the purchases of medicines, the Vets receipts will usually be adequate provided these itemise the individual medicines purchased. However, for the use of medicines, a record book or sheets, or computer records must be maintained showing details of every animal treated, either by you, your staff or a veterinary surgeon. This must include, as a minimum, the animal’s identification number, the date of treatment, the product used and any withdrawal periods.

3. Pesticide application records
This includes a record of all pesticides applied either by you, your staff or a contractor to agricultural land. A pesticide application record sheet or book must be maintained where these products are applied to either crops or grassland e.g. a weed killer applied to grassland. This must include, as a minimum, the location/field number, the date the pesticide was used and the name (or MAPP number) of the pesticide used.

4. Other records required include
·         The occurrence of diseases which may affect the safety of products of animal origin.
·         The results of any analyses/checks carried out on samples of animal origin or plant samples that have importance for human health.

Keep it simple and do it at the time.
Any system of record keeping should be easy to use and kept up-to-date.

Industry Quality Assurance Schemes

Many farmers participate in voluntary quality assurance schemes. Compliance with these schemes will usually require the keeping of the above records. These schemes have helped farmers meet legislative requirements regarding record keeping. Farmers in quality assurance schemes are less likely to be picked for the SMR 10 Food and Feed law Cross compliance inspection.

Guidance is available

Examples of record sheets are available from the counter at any DARD Direct office or alternatively can be obtained from the DARD website.

By Harry McBride, Agri-food Inspection Branch, Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 

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