What to include in a food and drink specification? If you have never written a specification , it is a daunting question. Essentially, you are aiming to record the paramethers that are representative of your product. For example, are you producing a cake which has strawberry jam in it? Do you want to pay the same price for strawberry jam with 60% Fruit or 20% fruit? How would the two types of filling affect the quality of your product, and how would your customers react?
Your quality may be affected by a lower quality jam and you may lose customers. If you have agreed to buy strawberry jam, without agreeing the specification, the supplier could argue that they delivered what you ordered. With an agreed specification, they can’t.
You can use specifications internally too, to specify the attributes of products as they travel through your production. Using the cake example again, it may be important that the sponges are all within certain weights and sizes. If the baker decides that today they will produce 6 inch (15cm) sponges, and you have an order for 8 inch (20 cm)sponges. You have a problem.
What is important to put into a food specification?
The minimum information should be shelf life, storage conditions,any important information (eg 8 inch (20cm) sponges), a reference or product name specific to that item, legal requirements such as allergens, product dimensions and safety standards. You may have information from your HACCP plan, microbiological and chemical standards, packaging information or specified physical parameters. The list can also include eating characteristics such as taste, colour or other organoleptic criteria. Thee may be customer specific information such as packing densities or delivery times.
The specification is an agreement between two parties and is invaluable in the case of a dispute.