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Product specification in the food industry: what you need to know

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 09/06/2016


In Quality Management, a large number of documents and certificates related to the purchased products and raw materials are required by buying companies.

One of the most important product related documents is the product specification. This document contains a detailed description of the product, all the requirements related to the production process as well as technical and fonctional aspects of the product. A product specification document can be released for any kind of product, from the raw materials (raw material specifications) to the machine parts or the packaging goods.

Purpose of a product specification document

The specification documents is useful on all stages of the production process, on the suppliers and producer sides as well as on the buying company side which can use this document as a quality standard required at the delivery.  

In some industries such as in the food industry, the number of protocoles and documents required during the production process can quickly skyrocket to guarantee food safety and a higher food quality. To meet this goal and standard, the food product and raw material specifications sheets primarly inform about the ingredients of each product and its condition of production.

General content of a product specification document

  • General information: production method, identification, ingredients, delivery, expiration date, transport and storage, package size, possible contamination
  • Location
  • Sensory properties: appearance/ color, smell, taste, texture
  • Nutrutional values
  • Declaration of allergens
  • Microbiological limits
  • Chemical - physical properties
  • Dispatch and Storage methods
  • Labelling
  • Certificates
  • Quality Management Methods
  • Manuals

Documentation process for the product specification

The buying company asks for specifications to its suppliers or producers and accepts the products meeting the quality standards. Each specification document generally has a resubmission date after which the data must be checked and updated by the producer or the supplier.

Some companies request further informations to meet the company specific needed data. A specific template will generally be provided to the supplier in order to get the exact information needed.

Here is a product specification template available for download:
Product Specification Template as PDF



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Tags: Insider, raw material documentation, for supplier manager