Food safety: Should vs. shall

 
 
Two words are more prevalent in the ANSI Z50 Safety & Sanitation than others: should and shall. Knowing the difference between what these words mean in the standard’s context can help equipment manufacturers and bakers not get lost in the document.
 
When the document uses the word “shall,” that indicates something that is required. As Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering, Safety & Sanitation, and member, Z50 Safety & Sanitation Committee, explains there should be no debate when this word shows up. On the other hand, when the standard uses the word “should,” it implies more of a suggestion.
 
“It can be seen as an optional recommendation or if you’re struggling to find a way to approach an issue, this might be a preferred way,” Brixey says.
 
He suggests that bakers and equipment manufacturers prioritize meeting the “shall” statements first on their list of specifications. Then let company policy or personal preference dictate how to handle the “should,” but they need to be as good or better than the suggestions found in the standard. This will help make meeting the standard more manageable.
 
“If you read the entire document and try to comply with every step of it, you’re going to be intertwining those two distinct aspects,” he says.