Improving Food Safety Through Internal Audits
While most food operations undergo yearly or quarterly inspections by regulatory agencies, this alone does not prevent the risk of foodborne illness. Executed properly, internal audits are one of the most effective ways to maintain food safety throughout your facility. Unfortunately, many companies’ internal audits are either non-existent or performed with a superficial focus on GMP and hygiene compliance. While those factors are important, the goal of an internal audit is to review the full scope of your programs.
Benefits of Internal Audits
Internal audits help organizations identify issues and weaknesses in food safety plans. Once identified, necessary improvements should be made and managers should focus on training employees on any changes in protocol. These steps not only eliminate hazards and prevent possible instances of foodborne illness, but further audits can verify whether training has been effective. This also provides managers with important information for potential future improvements.
Where Do We Begin?
To start, your audit program should be structured to ensure they are performed in an organized, consistent, and well-documented manner. You will need:
- An audit schedule that includes all aspects of the operation
- Auditor training and the retention of training records
- A standardized form to record all audit results
- A tracking log of all corrective actions and subsequent follow-up
- Scheduled time to review audit findings with management
Utilized correctly, these tools will allow you to control and manage issues as they arise.
Performing An Effective Internal Audit
More than just a walkthrough, an internal audit should include:
- An objective and well-trained team that independently audits different departments, functions, and processes throughout the organization
- A process for obtaining evidence to review against standard requirements
- Procedure and record review
- Confirmation of employee awareness
It’s important to review procedures before and after the audit to identify improvement opportunities. To ensure accurate results, observe a large sampling of employees from multiple shifts and speak with workers to confirm their knowledge of the process.
You Don’t Have To Do It Alone
To maintain your company’s success, one thing is clear: You can’t afford to be without an effective internal auditing program.
We know it’s a lot to take on. That’s why Avert is here to assist you. Our skilled team of advisors have over 20 years of expertise in the food industry. We’ll help you develop comprehensive audit tools to help mitigate your risk of foodborne illness and protect your brand.
Your company is everything. Let us help you protect it.
Matthew McClure provides sound strategies that instill cost-effective methods for building robust food safety, operational and quality assurance programs. Along with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Microbiology from The University of Akron and an MBA in Finance from Louisiana State University, Matthew brings over 20 years of experience in the food safety industry to AVERT Food Safety Advisors. His knowledge spans many areas including FDA food processing facilities, USDA meat and poultry plants, dietary supplement manufacturers, retail, cannabis manufacturing, and food service operations.
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