Food Safety, Sanitation, and Personal Hygiene

5 Receiving Practices

HACCP is an operation system that ensures that as many precautions as possible are undertaken to eliminate, minimize, or prevent any kind of contamination. HACCP identifies critical control points that relate to all transportation, handling, preparation, service, and storage of food products.

Receiving, storage, and preparation are all important sections of a food safety flow chart, and receiving of products is your first step when developing a flow chart. The following are important elements to consider when receiving products in general.

  • Never assume that all the food you receive is good enough to eat.
  • The receiving dock and related areas should be well lit and kept very tidy. Incorporate this area into a daily cleaning schedule to ensure proper cleanliness.
  • Schedule your deliveries to allow adequate time for the proper inspection and receiving of all food products.
  • Have all appropriate equipment and containers on hand. Scales, plastic gloves, containers, and thermometers are important pieces to have in easy reach.
  • Record the temperatures of the delivery trucks refrigerated and freezer storage. If the temperature is not within an acceptable range, do not accept the shipment (because you are unable to ascertain the length of time that the temperature has been unacceptable).

Each group of food, whether dry foods, dairy products, fresh produce, or meats, requires a slightly different procedure. No matter what the product type, the principal component in a receiving procedure is accuracy. Any carelessness or half-hearted attempts at checking the delivery will render the whole process useless.

Dry foods

Dry foods or goods are usually shipped in cartons, bags, cases, or pails. Count the pieces and check that the number corresponds with what is listed on the invoice.

If a carton is damaged, check the contents carefully. Pay particular attention to signs of leakage in cartons that contain products in jars or bottles. It is extremely difficult to get credit at a later date for products stored in glass jars or bottles that have broken. In addition, visually check bags and pails for damage or leakage.

If sealed cartons show evidence of having been opened, check the contents. All unsealed or obviously repacked cartons should be checked to verify what they contain. Do not sign the invoice if there is any doubt about quantity, quality, or damage until you or your supervisor has cleared up the problem with the shipper.

Canned goods are delivered in cases or cartons. Do a count and a quality check of the cans.

The two most common types of damage to cans are swelling and large dents. If cans are swollen or bulging, it means the food has spoiled and must not be used. If the cans have large dents, seams may have split and the food may be contaminated. Again, the canned product is unsafe to use and should be sent back to the supplier. If a whole case of canned goods is unacceptable, the local health authority should be notified.

Dairy products

Dairy products are perishable and do not store long. Check the best-before date on each container, which should be at least a week after the receiving date.

As with dry foods, compare the number of items received with the invoice and check all items for damage and leakage.


Produce is delivered in bags, cases, or cartons. Count the number of pieces, weigh items, and check for quality. Open any closed cases and cartons to check the produce for ripeness, freshness, and other signs of quality.

When there are mistakes in delivery or an unacceptable quality of food has been received, you should insist that the supplier pick up the item and issue a credit.

Meats, poultry, and seafood

Fresh meat is shipped in pieces and/or by weight. Count and weigh the fresh items. Check for leaking vacuum-packed (Cryovac) packages, and check the grade of the meat against the grade on the invoice. In addition, if specifications were given on the order form, confirm the cuts of meat do meet those specifications.

Fresh poultry and seafood should also be counted, weighed, and checked for quality.

Frozen products are often delivered in cases and cartons. Open the cases to count the items and to check for signs of freezer burn, torn wrappings, partial thawing, or other problems.

In summary, when receiving goods, remember:

  • The quantity of the goods received should match the quantity on the invoice and the quantity on the purchase order.
  • The quality of the goods received should be to the specifications given on the invoice or to specifications previously worked out with the supplier. This includes supplying the specific brand name when it is requested.
  • The prices of the goods should be listed on the invoice and should match the prices on the purchase order.


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Food Safety, Sanitation, and Personal Hygiene Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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