Effective Audits & Inspections



I recently held a conversation with a gentleman and the need for auditing and thought it would be a good time to write a piece on auditing broadly based on the ISO 19011 approach and so here is part 1 of a number of articles on auditing which I will present over the next few weeks.

If you work in the food industry and particularly food manufacturing you will be aware of the recent new edition of the BRC version 7 and therefore effective auditing is based on current interest and the past instances of fraud and food-borne disease outbreaks.

Is an inspection the same as an audit?  There are differences between them and for the purpose of this article I have separated them within a table for you to see the differences.

Audits Inspections
Announced Unannounced
Internal or external standards Good practice legislation
Independent auditors Usually Government officials
Document and site visits Mainly site visits
Usually completed over a long period Shorter duration
Comprehensive to cover, management, practices and processes Concentrated on the physical aspects and practices
Optional Compulsory
Questioning, listening and observation Looking and observing
Includes some elements of inspection Inspection part of audit
Payed for/possible conflict of interest State paid for
Advice provided by inspectors
Training can be provided by inspectors

Inspection means to look at and in more recent times.  Inspections are defined within the EU Food Control regs 882/2004 as:

Here are two definitions:

“The examination of any aspects of feed, animal health and welfare in order to verify that such aspect(s) comply with legal requirements of feed and food law and animal welfare”.


“A thorough and systematic gathering and recoding of information from observation, examination and discussion with food handlers and managers to ensure the business is capable of producing safe food and complying with the law”.

The term audit means to hear.

Here are two definitions:

“Systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled”.

(ISO 9000:2005)


“”A systematic and independent examination to determine whether activities and related results comply with planned arrangements and whether these arrangements are implemented effectively and are suitable to achieve objectives”.

Or in other words “are you doing what you say you do and is it appropriate?”.

It is a requirement within the EU for food businesses and their food safety management systems to be examined making it an audit and broader than an inspection.  Adding to this, is the necessity to undertake risk-based inspections further narrowing the gap between the term audit and inspection.

A point to note is that inspections are often a legal requirement and an audit is a voluntary or optional choice with each company volunteering and spending money for the audit to be completed and in most situations the audit is undertaken to enable them to gain some form of certification.

Next time:

Factors which influence audits and inspections.





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