Food defense is a top priority within your company, right? If you’re raising one eyebrow and asking yourself, “Just what does it mean to be ready for an audit?” then look into the mind of an auditor to find out exactly what it takes to pass an inspection – and pass with flying colors!
In the eyes of a food safety auditor, a company demonstrates audit-readiness when it makes documentation available upon request, and when it has a solid, tested, and streamlined plan in place.
Suffice it to say, don’t be one of the companies scrambling to avoid excessive fines, delays in production, or even loss of a registered license because your audit plan wasn't in check before the inspectors come knocking with their clipboards.
Depending upon how committed your company is to abiding by procedures, here is a brief example of what is loved – and what is loathed – by food safety auditors:
Bad: Being unorganized, making an auditor wait, having an unkempt facility, not following or understanding the code requirements, and not fully understanding the auditors’ questions.
Good: Being confident and following the plan. Showing an auditor you’ve done your research when they do happen to show up unannounced, being ready with records on hand and a staff that knows how to work with the auditors at every step.
Great: Demonstrating continuous improvements by investing in continuous education, upgrading the facilities, following KPIs to measure the performance of your food safety program, having a risk mitigation and emergency plan in place and fully documented.
Huge Bonus: Hiring a third-party auditor. Establishing an automation program to facilitate and streamline your audits.
Why a third-party Audit?
If you are unsure if your company falls into the high-risk category of food defense, or need to demonstrate that you are compliant, or if you’re trying to gain certification, then a third-party auditor might well be worth your time and investment.
According to Heena Patel, Sr. Technical Director and Auditor for SCS Global, it is important that companies involved in food safety audits look at this practice from a positive perspective. Patel believes that an audit serves the company’s best interests. It’s important to realize these practices help facilities prepare and operate with greater ease – saving time and money – and resulting in less recalls, fines, or loss of profit.
Automating a company’s FSQA operation helps streamline and improve overall performances and company operations on which your facility is being audited. Here are the many benefits to adopting automation technology:
Automation allows you to better define all regulatory, third party, internal requirements and customer specifications; this includes codes and special requirements, like HACCP/HARPC, etc.
By using cloud-based automation technology, your company will be more transparent and visible. This means your data will be accessible to select third-parties, as well as to suppliers of choosing. It is the company’s choice to determine how much or how little transparency it wants to incorporate into the technology. Alerts are received in real-time. Alerts can notify when a task associated with your food safety requirements is completed or ready to be completed.
In an article written by James Acheson, of The Acheson Group, he explains that the FDA is charging $217 an hour (as long as no foreign travel is required), and $305 an hour if foreign travel is needed. An OSHA penalty could cost up to $7,000, and run as high as $70,000 for willful and repeated violations. (Source: Achesongroup)
Food safety plans are not always going to run smoothly and perfectly, and auditors realize that as well. Prevention is the key.