Auditing and traceability are crucial issues for the food production industry today. Not only are they integral to the success of your business. They also play a central role in maintaining and improving global food safety standards.
Here are some practical strategies designed to help you ensure you conform to audits, comply with customers’ Codes of Practice (COP’s), avoid unnecessary errors and deliver the data required for absolute traceability.
Pave your path to success with preparation
You might be surprised by how many instances of audit non-conformance are caused by a failure to prepare thoroughly. Here are a few tips to ensure there are no nasty surprises on audit day.
- From customer requirements to legislation, the scope of every audit is different – so ensure that you define the scope of your audit in advance.
- Update documentation in accordance with your audit plan – and remember that having the right documents readily available is vital.
- If you use a paper-based system make sure it’s accessible and not in a locked filing cabinet – with an electronic system, ensure you have an appropriate back-up plan.
- Communicate to your team that you’re being audited, so that it isn’t sprung on them at the last minute – for example, you might find it helpful to run a training session.
Ensure the right team members are available
Your team is instrumental to a successful audit performance. Audit conformance depends on the right people being present to answer questions when necessary. In fact, failure to do so could even mean that you have to rearrange an audit.
- With the right managers, you have a strong foundation for audit success – leading by example, their commitment to the audit process will filter down through your organisation.
- Adequate provision of human resources to the audit process is crucial – you need the right team to implement your HACPP or food safety system effectively.
- It isn’t good practice to leave auditing solely to QA managers – from maintenance to procurement, HR and production, everyone has a role to play on the day itself.
- Staff should be trained in what to expect from an audit – not only will this optimise your audit performance but will help them understand the benefits of maintaining standards of certification.
Carry out regular internal audits
One effective way to all but guarantee audit success is by carrying out internal audits. Done right, this will also add considerable value to your organisation’s activities.
- Remember, it’s good practice to carry out your internal audit around a week prior to your external – this gives you the time to resolve any issues that arise.
- Internal auditing also demonstrates your commitment to traceability and maintaining the highest standards – it shows that you’re on top of your business.
- This IFS app gives you free access to the same criteria as an external auditor – HACCP Mentor also delivers training in internal auditing via an online course.
Use reliable equipment to collect your data
If you’re looking for ways to increase your audit conformance statistics, investing in equipment to collect and communicate data swiftly and accurately is a sound strategy.
- Maintaining the highest standards means replacing outdated or inferior equipment – while this will necessarily incur an upfront expense, you’ll soon start to see the long-term benefits.
- From weighing and measuring to identifying and removing contaminants to accurate labelling, all your equipment needs to work harmoniously.
- With the right equipment, you’ll have all the data you need to satisfy your auditor at the click of a button.
- At Sparc Systems, our commitment to traceability gives food manufacturers peace of mind that they’re compliant with food safety schemes – while our equipment boosts product traceability and increases overall production efficiency.
Ultimately, food safety legislation is getting stricter all the time, while consumer expectations are on the rise. As a result, it’s worth devoting the right resources to the audit conformance process.