This is one of the biggest confusions in our industry. People ask all the time how to figure out the difference between validation and verification in their food plant. I have broken it down for you so that we can, hopefully, all get on the same page about this topic.
Validation-“Is what we are going to do, going to work?” So in other words, we know from several sources that cooking chicken to the temperature of 165 degrees internally, will kill harmful bacteria that could potentially make people very ill. We have credible documentation that can prove this. So at that point, you can say your validation step is you are going to cook your ready to eat chicken to 165 degrees prior to packaging for public sale.
Verification is seeing if we are actually doing the things that we say we are going to do. So this would mean that we have already validated that 165 is a perfect temperature to kill bacteria and we have stated that that is what we are going to do with our chicken; cook it to 165 degrees. Now we have to test the temperature of the food when it reaches this temperature regularly and document this. This documentation is the proof of verification.
To confuse the topic even further, the thermometer that you use in the verification process, has to be calibrated regularly for accuracy and you will need to document this as well, proving that you are doing this.
So to sum it all up, validation is saying you are going to do something that is proven to work and verification is testing to show what you said you were going to do, you are now doing. And of course, don’t forget to calibrate. Check your thermometer, or whatever device you are using to do your verification and then write this all down in one place!
Call us if you are still thoroughly confused.
-Shannon Nute, MBA