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Preparing for Food Industry Audits

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There's a lot more to being ready for your audits than just ticking off a checklist, we're always keen to emphasize the importance of showing your audit working out. What we mean by this is that the preparation that you do for your audits isn't something that should just take place a week before the audit is due; particularly with the rise in unannounced audits. Demonstrating long term use of procedure means that you'll never be caught fully unaware should an audit take place, and most importantly you'll actually be doing your utmost to ensure that your food is produced safely, in a safe environment!

With that in mind, here are a few things that you can do to ensure that any eventual audits do go off without a hitch:

Everyone in the business should be properly informed well in advance of any audit, it's important that none of your team ends up being surprised and unable to answer an auditors questioning. Ensuring that everyone knows what their job descriptions are as well as the key Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is vital to success, key staff being familiar with terms such as corrective action and the difference between validation and verification could make all the difference between a pass or failure.

Equally it's important that all relevant documentation is kept in a prepared state and updated regularly, key staff should know exactly where this documentation is kept and those responsible for keeping this documentation up to date should know when updates are due so that elements such as licensing and product testing certificates don't expire.

The small things shouldn't be forgotten about either, failing to address obvious issues shows a lack of commitment to maintaining standards in the long term. Make sure that overall conditions are tidy and that everything is properly labelled and stored correctly. Evidence of pest control and regular cleaning activities should be made obvious to any auditor.

Utilising I.T solutions to help prepare for your audits is also an excellent idea that can save significant time and effort on your part as well as demonstrating commitment to the overall standard. I.T solutions could be used to:

  • Automate food safety processes so that for example; reports are produced on a scheduled basis or that updated product specifications are requested from suppliers regularly.
  • Automatic notifications for team members that alert them when actions are required for elements that they manage or when tasks related to audit standards are overdue.

Most auditing bodies will allow you access to a self asssesment procedure that you can use to measure your progress and ensure that you're meeting the standards required. You can find the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety self assement tool HERE

Finally, Needlers offers a wide range of services and tools to our customers including training and induction videos, product training and expert assistance with food industry audits. If you'd like our help you can get in touch on 01482 467500 or by emailing sales@needlers.co.uk

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