Why Internal Audit of a food safety system is important?

In today’s world food safety is a top priority to companies producing food. Having written food safety plan with corresponding policies and SOPs is not only required by food safety regulations but also a requirement for companies to sell their food to major retail stores. Internal Audits of your food safety system are important to assure the system is effective.

A lot of companies undergo an annual certification audit such as SQF, BRC or other GFSI benchmarked audit schemes. Those require a written HACCP plan developed according to CODEX guidelines, Pre-requisite Programs and Good Manufacturing Practices.

Having a written protocol is one thing, having it implemented is another. Programs that have not been implemented and followed by the employees are useless and you may say the food safety system is not existing.

But how do you know if your system is followed and implemented? The only way to find it out is to audit your system. In manufacturing / processing industry it is called an internal audit.

There are a few standards in internal auditing but the one that is widely and internationally recognized is ISO 19011:2011 for Auditing of Quality Management Systems. According to this ISO standard, your internal audit must be a process where your auditing team follows steps and uses defined techniques while conducting an internal audit.

ISO 19011:2011 requires that there be a team of qualified individuals available to conduct the audit. The team must have a knowledge of your manufacturing process and written procedures implemented at your facility. Internal food safety audit starts with your team determining the scope of the audit, selecting audit criteria, conducting the audit by collecting audit evidence, inspecting and interviewing personnel, evaluating collected evidence, determining results of evaluated evidence (acceptable vs unacceptable), documenting audit results, reporting audit findings and follow up activities to verify that deficiencies were corrected.

Requirement for internal auditing of the food safety system is part of the GFSI concept. Without internal auditing a company is unable to assure its food safety system and HACCP plan are being followed as designed. Internal audit can also serve as a method for validating changes made to GMPs, Food Safety Plans and other Pre-requisite Programs. You may say that effective Internal Audit is the key to having successful food safety system.

For the audit to be effective, the internal auditors must be properly trained. In fact, training of internal auditors is required by the GFSI. Here at BD Food Safety Consultants we do offer Internal Auditor Certification Course. There are two options for taking this course. One is a 1-day online theory class where we cover internal auditing requirements as they relate to GFSI. Another option is a 1-day theory course with optional half a day practical internal audit exercise at client’s location. In this practical exercise our instructor will conduct the audit on selected element of the client’s food safety system and will walk participants through the auditing process. Contact us for more details or visit us at https://bdfoodsafety.com/internal-audit-training/