Tag Archives: auditing

Bryan Armentrout, Food Leadership Group

What Do Food Facility Auditors Really Want?

By Bryan Armentrout
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Bryan Armentrout, Food Leadership Group

Third-party audits are critically important to food companies. They are the primary tool your customers use to determine if adequate food safety systems are in place. This article covers some of the strategies and tactics you should employ to maximize your chances of a successful audit.

Does This Scenario Sound Familiar?

A big audit is coming up. The plant has been preparing for months and this is the final team meeting before the auditor arrives. At some point during the meeting the plant manager turns to the QA manager and says, “Are you ready for the audit?” The QA manager swallows hard and responds, “As ready as we are going to be.”

So much stress and so much pressure just to get a “good score”. Corporate wants to know what happened before the auditor even leaves the plant. Performance evaluations, raises, year-end bonuses and sometimes even jobs are at risk. It’s no wonder people worry about audits so much.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that stressful? It doesn’t if you implement some of the things I have learned over the years.

What Is an Audit?

I informally define an audit as verification that things are being performed to established rules. Those rules can be a customer contract, an audit scheme such as SQF or government regulatory standards. For this article, we are going to talk specifically about independent third-party audits.

Who Is an Auditor?

An auditor is a person.

It’s easy to forget sometimes. They are people with their own story, training and experience. They may be a retired QA director from a major food company with decades of experience. They may be a former plant QA manager in the automotive industry with no food experience. This may be their first audit. They have a story and that will influence your audit.

Few people know that you can choose who audits you. Make sure the person who is coming in to evaluate your plant has the right experience and temperament to work with you. Ask the audit company to provide you with three to five resumes of auditors that they would like to send to your facility. Arrange for interviews with them and choose the one that fits best. You are looking for the right mix of experience and temperament. You don’t have to take who they want to send.

What Is an Audit About?

An audit is an answer to a series of specific questions and how you meet them. This is key to how you should approach an audit. The PDCA model is an ideal way to remember this point (see Figure 1).

PDCA Model
Figure 1. PDCA Model
  • Plan: What are the rules of the game?
  • Do: What is your procedure?
  • Check: What proof do you have that it was done?
  • Act: What happens if it is not correct?

Let’s address these one at a time.

Maria Fontanazza, Zephyr Wilson, Food Safety Consortium

Encourage Employees to Find Listeria

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Maria Fontanazza, Zephyr Wilson, Food Safety Consortium

Building the right food safety culture around environmental monitoring requires a realistic approach to your processes. “Culture starts with understanding your process,” Zephyr Wilson, product manager at Roka Bioscience told Food Safety Tech at the 2016 Food Safety Consortium. “You need to ask questions—a lot of questions.”

In the following video, Wilson talks about food safety culture in the context of environmental monitoring and how companies should approach environmental monitoring. “Understand all of your processes,” she said. “Take an honest look at your metrics and make sure you’re encouraging your employees to find the Listeria.”

She also reviews the steps a company should take when undergoing self-auditing, and encourages companies to work under the direction of an attorney to ensure that all results are confidential.

NSF International Acquires Burwater Pacific Group, Expands Reach in New Zealand and Australia

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Yesterday NSF International announced the acquisition of Burwater Pacific Group, a New Zealand-based food safety training, auditing and consulting business. The deal further expands NSF’s food safety and quality services to the food manufacturing and retail markets in New Zealand and Australia. Led by Nigel Burrows, the Burwater Pacific Group will be renamed NSF Burwater and become part of the NSF International Food Safety and Quality Division. NSF Burwater will offer the following services:

  • Technical consulting, including services for new product launches (product development, label review, food control plans, HACCP development, and micro and chemical sampling)
  • Auditing services, including franchise compliance and operational standards review, and third-party regulatory audits
  • Training and development