This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue Sharps control
BRCGS Packaging Issue,, Sharps control
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3Not applicable
BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 46.1.6 Knives and other tools
FSSC22000 Version 5.1No specific clauses
IFS Food Version 7No applicable clauses
SQF Edition 911.7.3.7, Metal control


There be a procedure for the management of sharp metal items used in product handling areas, including:

  • Knives.
  • Cutting blades.
  • Needles.
  • Wires.

Only company approved metal tools may be used in product handling areas.

All other sharp metal items and metal tools, which aren’t designed for use in product areas, must be stored away from the product and locked away to prevent unauthorised use.

Snap-off blade knives aren’t allowed.

Sharps procedure

There must be a procedure which details:

  • The identification of sharp metal items.
  • That a risk assessment must be carried out of all sharps metal items to determine the required controls.
  • The implementation of controls where there’s an identified risk.
  • Condition-based checks at a frequency determined by the risk assessment.
  • Corrective action procedures, including investigation of lost items.
  • How sharp metal items must be stored to reduce the risk of damage.
  • How sharp metal items will be issued, logged and returned.
  • How loss must be reported and how replacements will be issued.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment must be carried out of all sharp metals, to determine how often condition-based checks must be completed.

The objective of the risk assessment is to define the likelihood of any damage contaminating the material.

The higher the risk, the more frequent the check must be.

Metal tools

Metal sharps must not be left unattended when not in use, but instead should be stored in a secure and designated place. Locked toolboxes or even a locked shadow board type box on the wall is a great idea.

Staff must be trained to only use metal sharps for the purpose that they were designed. For example, they mustn’t use a knife for levering off a lid, or trying to fix something if it’s intended use is to open sealed boxes.

Issuing metal sharps

It’s important that only formally issued items are in use, in product areas. This means that you need to issue each piece and mark it with an identification code before you do.

When an item is then taken out of use, you need to update your register and check sheets to reflect this.

And, make sure you don’t reuse identification codes – they need to be unique. For example, if you have a knife in goods in, which is code 0001. Don’t replace it with another knife with the same ID. Because if you do – how do you prove that the new one, is in fact new?

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Metal sharps:
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Have your say…

2 thoughts on “How to control metal sharps

  1. Hi, thanks for this useful article.
    One question – why is it necessary to have a unique ID number to prove that a knife is a new knife?

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