Tip Sheet 11 - Correction, Corrective Action and Preventive Action
Simply put, a correction is an immediate action taken to fix an issue identified during an audit or while
monitoring and corrective action works to resolve the root cause of the issue. Preventative action is
one taken to prevent a food safety problem in the future. Often the terms are used interchangeably,
but each has their place in addressing food safety issues.
Describe the difference among correction, corrective action and preventive action
Applicable Code Elements
Part A 3.2
Action to eliminate a detected non-conformity.
Action to eliminate the cause of a detected non-conformity or other undesirable situation.
Action to determine and eliminate the causes of a potential non-conformity
A correction should be made when there is any observation within the site that
indicates there is a food safety risk to the product. After the correction is made, the
site must investigate to determine the root cause of the issue. When the root cause
of the problem is identified, preventative actions can be taken.
An example of a correction would be: during his walk through the site, the person
responsible for food safety notices the washdown hose on the floor of the production
Corrective action is an important part of any food safety system. Corrective actions
are proactive, rather than reactive responses to a deviation from regular operations.
It requires the development a procedure that describes, before the event, who, what,
when, where and how the site will address an identified problem or deviation. These actions can then be executed if a deviation from the prescribed course of action can
Documentation of the corrective action is to be retained by the site.
The site should consider identifying the root cause of the issue, to prevent an
occurrence of the same issue in the future.
There are many means and tools available to assist the site in identifying the root
cause of an issue. Some of common tools include “5 Whys,” “Fishbone diagram,”
Following the example above, the person responsible for food safety used the “5
Whys” tool to determine the root cause for the washdown hose being on the floor.
Why 1 – the sanitation person left the hose on the floor after washing down
Why 2 – the sanitation person attempted to place the hose onto the hose
reel but found it broken.
Why 3 – the maintenance person was informed that the hose reel was
broken, but hadn’t received approval from Finance to purchase a new hose
Why 4 – the finance person had received the purchase request, but was not
able to approve the request before leaving for vacation.
Why 5 – upon their return to the office, the finance person forgot to follow
through with the approval of the purchase request.
An important part of the process is taking preventative action to assure the
continuous improvement of the SQF System.
Following the example above, the person responsible for food safety realizes the
approval process for food safety capital expenses needs to be reevaluated to assure
expedience and works with site management to update the process.
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