Would your company pass an unannounced food safety audit?

Unannounced audit

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a sudden twinge of panic when someone you’re not expecting decides to drop in on you. You rush around tidying papers, shoving things in cupboards, plumping up cushions, closing the door to the kitchen and hoping against hope that they don’t ask to use the bathroom!

In this instance the only consequence you’ll suffer is initial acute embarrassment that your house isn’t as clean and tidy as you’d wish. You’ll probably mutter something along the lines of “Sorry it’s a bit of a tip. I’ve been so busy this week that I haven’t had chance to clean.” Your friend/acquaintance will say “Don’t worry” and that will be the end of the matter.

Make sure you’re audit-ready

Unfortunately being ‘too busy’ isn’t a good enough excuse if an auditor makes an unannounced visit to your company’s premises. Whilst the majority of companies still opt for an announced audit, surely it’s in everyone’s interests to ensure that they are audit-ready at any given time? Not only will this reduce the chance of product recalls and the associated expense/ loss of confidence (it took just one month for UK sales of frozen beef burgers to plummet by 43% following news of ‘Horsegate.’) it will also improve safety, efficiency and, of course, significantly reduce the chance of external audit failure.

Why do food companies fail audits?

Obviously non-compliance varies from company to company, but the most common reasons are:

Human error  – everyone needs to understand the importance of food safety and the reasons why procedures need to be adhered to at all times – even during busy periods.

Compliance failure  – making sure that your systems are compliant is more important than getting product out of the door. Non-compliance can equal product recalls or shut-downs.

HACCP failure – documentation needs to be complete and current. HACCP systems need to be validated and verified on a regular basis.

Insufficient supplier control – you need to ensure that your suppliers pass muster too – especially in terms of guarding against potential contamination or food fraud.

Being disorganised – not being able to produce accurate, up-to-date information on your systems and processes will not win you any favours with an auditor.

Staff hygiene – Even if all other systems are ship-shape, bad staff personal hygiene can cause contamination. Very recently almost 2,000 people in the Philippines were hospitalised with vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea, after eating fruit flavoured sweets believed to be contaminated with bacteria from workers’ dirty hands and sweaty armpits.

Take the first step to ensuring that your company is audit-ready by attending our next Auditing Skills and Supplier Auditing courses.

Auditing Skills

A 2-day FDQ-certificated course which provides the theory, practical skills and confidence necessary to conduct an effective audit. It includes group exercises to put theory into practice and a multiple choice test at the end of day 2. No previous experience is necessary.

Supplier Auditing

Supplier Auditing is a 1-day course certificated by FDQ, which focuses on the skills necessary for effective auditing of new and existing suppliers. It is the ideal follow-on course to Auditing Skills. Topics covered include

  • The Purpose of Supplier Auditing
  • The Supplier Audit Process
  • Priority, Risk and Due Diligence
  • Common Failings (real-life examples).

There is also a multiple choice test to ensure understanding.

To book either or both courses, please contact us on 01756 700802.

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