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Risk Management

Four Food Safety Audit Mistakes You’re Making...

...and how to avoid them

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 12:17

What do you feel when you imagine your next regulatory audit? Stress? Anxiety? Overwhelming dread? The average recall can cost a manufacturer as much as $10 million, making compliance important to your brand as well as your bottom line.

As you manage the daily ins and outs of your quality responsibilities, dealing with a regulatory audit in the moment is just a small part of your role in food safety. However, a successful food safety audit requires extensive preparation, which can make your audit process run much smoother.

Following is an examination of four common food safety audit mistakes; read on to see how you can avoid them and alleviate some of the stress associated with this process.

1. You haven’t developed an audit plan

Social media has made it easy for consumers to gather information about food safety news and recalls; therefore, negative stories regarding food safety can spread quickly. Customers don’t just expect high levels of food safety, they demand it. Farm-to-fork traceability is necessary to stay compliant and competitive across the food and beverage industry.

What is your plan for achieving audit readiness? Do you have an audit plan at all? Firefighting and last-minute scrambling for data and documentation shouldn’t be part of maintaining and documenting compliance. In contrast, you can prepare for an audit by checking the accuracy of tests as well as ensuring tests are complete and recorded every single time.

2. You’re not efficiently collecting and recording data

To maintain food safety compliance, required data must be collected and maintained in a secure, efficient way. Although there are a multitude of data-collection methods, some manufacturers continue to rely on antiquated methods, such as pen and paper or spreadsheets.

3. You’re reacting instead of preventing and preparing

Use technology and innovative tools to collect more accurate data that is available in real time so that you can provide documentation of compliance during your next audit. Preparing for an audit with timely reports and data will also allow you and your team to identify problems before they become real issues that can have a negative effect on audit results. In addition, to test your organization’s readiness, perform food safety audit drills on a regular basis.

Once you have that source of real-time data, you can then take immediate action instead of reacting to older data and cleaning up the resulting mess of unaddressed mistakes. By taking informed action in real time, you can avoid some of the headaches associated with fighting fires.

4. You’re not adequately documenting action taken

When preparing for an audit, it is vital to document irregularities to record the application of proper steps and actions. Make sure the technology you have in place not only collects the data necessary to make informed decisions, but also guides your team’s actions and documents those resolutions.

As a food manufacturer (especially if your organization is a manufacturer of high-risk foods), you may be subject to an administrative detention of your products, or suspension of its registration with the FDA, if you cannot produce the appropriate records to prove that products are safe.

With proper audit planning and easy technology-driven access to real-time data, you can make immediate decisions and document those actions. Instead of worrying about your next audit, prepare with data, action, and documentation so you can stress less and breathe a little easier.


About The Author

InfinityQS’s picture


InfinityQS is a leading provider of statistical process control (SPC) software and services to a broad array of companies, from multinational giants to smaller, more specialized manufacturers. InfinityQS develops software solutions to help manufacturers monitor, control, and improve the quality of their manufacturing operations across a site, an enterprise, or an entire supply chain, continuing to provide significant returns on their initial investment and increase productivity.