Food Safety Auditing & Inspection

Food Safety Auditing & Inspection

Food Safety Auditing & Inspection

It goes without saying that, for any food safety auditing & inspection to be successful, there is a requirement for the auditors and inspectors, themselves, to be trained and for them to have the relevant qualifications and working knowledge as deemed appropriate to complete Food Safety Auditing & Inspection successfully.  Reference can be made to the competencies recently identified within the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) which mainly apply to auditors but can be applicable to inspectors. Click HERE to go to the GFSI competencies technical papers.

Identified below are a range of food safety auditing & inspection skills required of an auditor/inspector.

  • Knowledge of food safety and the pre-requisite programmes
  • Hazard Analysis (HACCP)
  • Analytical
  • Technical skills
  • A knowledge of microbiological testing
  • Risk assessment and relevant hazards
  • Product knowledge (physical, chemical, microbiological, allergenic)
  • Processing characteristics
  • Operations in use
  • Legislation
  • Internal and external standards

This list is not exhaustive and the reader may feel there are other Food Safety Auditing & Inspection skills required. If so, then please post your comments.

Fault or fact?

By completing Food Safety Auditing & Inspection, we are looking to establish the facts and by doing so we are helping companies to identify whether or not they are compliant with food safety legislation and meeting their legal obligation, a company standard or policy statement.

For an auditor or inspector to be able to help and ensure a company is compliant, requires the auditor/inspector to keep up-to date their own Food Safety Auditing & Inspection knowledge and training, for this, they should use the abundant resources available to them, including the latest scientific information, epidemiology data, and keeping up with emerging trends, foods and worldwide issues of concern.  In a short, there has to be an organised system of CPD, which in turn, addresses the issue of variance amongst auditor/inspectors and increases the reliability and consistency of the audit/inspection.

There is the necessity for companies to meet the standards required by their customers which leads to multiple audits and of course the local authority inspection. To address this, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) an industry-driven initiative providing, thought leadership and guidance on food safety management systems necessary for safety along the supply chain, was established.  Their mission statement is “Provide continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.”  

Effectiveness of the auditor/inspector

Given all of the above there is an area outside of the control of the auditor/inspector and that is the attitude of the company being audited/inspected.  Does the company have the right attitude to audits/inspections or do they see them as merely a “means to an end” and obtaining the necessary pass?

It is very difficult for auditors/inspectors to determine whether food safety is at the very heart of the company’s culture, even the best Food Safety Auditing & Inspection will only assess an outer layer.

Auditors/Inspectors must ensure a thorough evaluation includes a psychological and qualitative approach to assessing the company’s core values and culture.  We only have to look to the Pennington’ report and the E.coli outbreak in Wales to see the inspection failings due to a lack of what was needed to ensure compliance, which was never put into place, that being a rigorous enforcement programme designed to compel compliance.

Bob Elsey

Pennine Training Services

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