FDA Reader
Simplifying Food Regulation


FDA Reader: Simplifying Food Regulation

117 Subpart F: Record Keeping

What You Need to Know

Record Keeping Blog Image.png
  • Records can be electronic or paper.

  • They must have:

    • Plant name / address

    • The date/time

    • Product name

    • Signature/initials

    • Actual information/observations not summaries

  • You must store records onsite for at least 2 years

  • You must be able to retrieve records within 24 hours.

  • All records must be made available upon request

All of our food safety plan templates are aligned with this section.

Summary of Subpart F: Record Keeping

Below is a summary of Subpart F so that you can get a deeper sense of the requirements. If you want to read the original text, check out the source texts, linked below.

This text is aligned with the coding used in the FDA Regulations so that you can hunt down the corresponding section with ease. For example,  you have a question about my wording in §117.305 (f) (2) then just look up this same code in the CFR.

§117.301 Records Subject to the Requirements of this Subpart

This section quickly states two points, neither of which are terribly important:

  1. Only the food safety plan must be dated and signed when created and updated.

  2. If a business is applying for a small business exemption (aka "Qualified Facility exemption") the standards for those records is less than what is described in this section.

§117.305 General Requirements Applying to Record

Records must:

a. Be kept as originals, true copies (i.e. scans, photocopies) or electronic records.

b. Contain the actual values and observations, not summaries.

c. Be accurate, unchangeable and legible

d. be created in real-time with the activity being documented.

e. Be as detailed as necessary

f. Include:

  1. information about the plant identity

  2. The date (and time, if necessary)

  3. Signature or initials of the observer

  4. Product name and lot code, if applicable

g. Electronic records required by other regulations may be subject to the requirements in Part 11 (This is the FDA section about electronic records, it unlikely applies to your business if you are following this statute)

§117.310 Additional Requirements Applying to the Food Safety Plan

The owner or operator of the plant must sign and date the food safety plan when it is first authored and whenever it is modified.

§117.315 Requirements for Record Retention:


  1. All records must be retained onsite for 2 years

  2. A qualified facility must retain records attesting to their exempt status.

a. Small businesses operating under a Qualified Facility exemption must retain records to support that they apply for the exemption (typically 3 years of records)

b. Records that relate to equipment or processes that are no longer used must be retained for 2 years after their discontinuation.

c. You may store records offsite (not food safety plan) if you can retrieve them within 24 hours.

d. You can store a food safety plan offsite if the plant is closed

§117.320 Requirements for Official Review

All records must be made available upon request

§117.325 Public Disclosure

Your records may be disclosed by the FDA in accordance with Chapter 20 of the CFR

§117.330 Use of Existing Records

a. Existing records used for other purposes don't have to be duplicated to satisfy these requirements.

b. The records don't have to be kept in one set.

§117.335 Special Requirements Applicable to a Written Assurance

Any written assurance (which is required by other parts of the code) must contain the date and the names/signatures of the officials making the attestation.

Part 117 -- Subpart F: Requirements Applying to Records That Must Be Established and Maintained