Understanding the Food Safety Audit Report
Regulatory oversight is an essential part of every aspect of the food industry, and keeping up with regulatory changes is a must. Any facility is only as safe as the sum of its parts, so making sure everything and everyone is working in conjunction with set standards is vital.
Food auditors are tasked with looking at different aspects of operations to anticipate and mitigate food safety risks at every step. However, it’s worth noting that any audit is just a snapshot of the day it was conducted. Any defects outside the scope of the audit may not be uncovered. The solution to any potential audit gaps is certifying to one or more industry standards.
The Role of the Food Auditor and the Food Safety Audit Reports
The role of the food auditor—whether 1st, 2nd, or 3rd party—is to observe and evaluate the food safety process in a facility. Major violations identified during a third-party audit increase the chance of facility certifications being revoked, or not awarded at all. In the case of a supplier audit, poor results could mean a supplier might stop doing business with your organization which can put your business operations at risk for a shutdown. No matter the type of audit, food auditors generally conduct inspections in five steps:
- Step 1 – Planning
- Step 2 – Execution
- Step 3 – Corrective and Preventative Action
- Step 4 – Verification
- Audit Evaluation
Food safety systems, quality assurance systems, grounds, building and equipment, and pest control are just the beginning of a comprehensive safety audit. Employee practices, receiving, storage and shipping, plant sanitation, and processing will also be put under the food auditors’ microscope.
The results detailed by your food auditor will determine the schedule of your next facility safety inspection. Any major violations listed must be priority one for taking corrective and preventative action. Minor issues should be appropriately addressed and any corrective and preventative actions recorded in detail for the food auditor. Additional opportunities and areas for improvement may also be detailed and should be addressed in order of importance to maintaining food safety in all operations.
What to Expect From a Food Safety Audit Report
Now you’ve had your first safety audit, and the food auditor has your initial Food Safety Audit Report in hand, what’s next? Unacceptable results of both inspections and audits can have serious consequences including costly product recalls, but failing an inspection can have more substantial penalties and may require facilities to shut down operations.
- Carefully review the audit summary and any notations listed in the initial portion of the Food Safety Audit Report.Corrective and Preventative Actions and recommended pathways to improvement will be described and assigned a complete by date.
- Set a schedule to meet the completion dates noted by the food auditor, including the names of the person or team responsible for implementing and completing the recommended actions.
- The food auditor will verify the corrective and preventative actions in the final Audit Evaluation and scoring.
Preparation for Future Food Safety Audit Reports
Being audit-ready every day can mitigate problems for future audits. But in order to be effective, food safety requires constant vigilance and inspection readiness. The importance of following well-documented and detailed food safety and HAACP plans for your plant cannot be understated. Regulatory inspectors will ask to review this plan as well as records that prove the food safety steps are being followed every day. A designated onsite food auditor to oversee and coordinate safety efforts internally can help keep everything on track. The best way to achieve operating standards that are “Audit ready, every day” is to adhere to and certify your facility’s food safety standards to anticipate and prevent problems before they happen.
ASI Food Safety offers the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification Program to help your company meet the growing demand for GFSI Compliance. The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program is recognized by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers worldwide. Recognized by GFSI, the SQF food safety codes are designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements for all sectors of the food supply chain (Farm-to-Fork).
Additional certification levels include cGMP—Current Good Manufacturing Practices for your particular industry and Safe Quality Food (SQF) for Fundamentals, Food Safety Code, and Quality. Facilities dedicated to going above and beyond should consider implementing the gold standard for food facilities is GFSI—a set of collaborative benchmarked solutions created to reduce food safety risks, and reduce audit duplication and costs while building trust throughout the supply chain. GFSI’s vision is to provide “safe food for consumers, everywhere”.
The key benefits of becoming GFSI Certified include:
- Safer global supply chain
- Gain better access to market
- Reduction of audits
- Decrease product recalls and foodborne diseases
- Improve consumer confidence and public health
Certifications can help your facility maintain the highest standards for food safety, so they are well worth the time and effort. Reach out to ASI today to learn about how SQF and GFSI Certification can improve your food safety management system.