If you are committed to the food safety standards of your food business, then you should consider how best to plan for a food safety audit. An audit is an important part of transparency and assurance that safety standards are being met. There are some good reasons why food businesses should engage in regular audits and these include:
- An audit is a necessary part of becoming certified to a particular recognised standard. For more details on the benefits of a BRC Audit, visit https://mqmconsulting.co.uk/services/brc-global-standards-consultancy/
- Audits are a good way to evaluate the priorities of the management and the functioning of the management systems in place.
- To help establish commercial objectives for the business.
- To evaluate supplier needs and those of the consumer.
- To meet contractual or regulatory stipulations
- To avoid incidents that may have occurred at other facilities of the business.
There is also room for improvement and growth, no matter whether many audits have taken place in the past or if this is a first for the business. An audit doesn’t have to be simply for certification, although this is beneficial, but it can be about driving motivation and value inside the company.
The global nature of the food industry means that supply chains are becoming increasingly complex. There is therefore a greater need for standardised approaches and internationally accepted processes to ensure safety.
There are different types of audit –
- First Party – this is a self-assessment that an organisation carries out to check internal processes and strategies. It is a useful exercise to evaluate business objectives and set standards.
- Second Party – this type of audit involves an organisation coming in to evaluate a business’ performance.
- Third Party – these audits are conducted by independent auditors from outside the organisation and are normally carried out to gain certification from a recognised industry body.
Planning is the first step when preparing for an audit. A main objective should be identified – perhaps management systems or a specific product line. What areas will be looked at? Will it be a focused audit, a random spot check or an in depth root cause analysis of an entire department, for example.
Audits are a great time to develop improved communication within the business. Exploring viewpoints and speaking to employees is an opportunity to promote an atmosphere of ownership and to foster a culture of food safety awareness.
Preparing for an audit can reveal areas of non-compliance and/or outdated practices. One major factor to consider is the financial cost of rectifying any identified issues. Such costs can be tough to manage, however, not all measures might be costly to fix. Some non-compliance could be easily managed with greater communication between teams before expensive actions like retraining or purchasing equipment are implemented.
The benefits of a food safety audit are many. They are great for looking at real-time information and problems that are affecting the business right now. Audits can be a proactive experience and not merely reflective or reactive.