An Outline of Food Safety Compliance Audits

Written by Assure Cloud - AssureCloud Team
4 Nov 2021

As you know, food safety is big deal. Complying with standards is essential for the safety of the public and for the reputation of your organisation. 

But, you can’t simply comply with rules and expect your responsibilities to end there. There’s more you need to do – like proving that you’re compliant. One way to prove it is by getting an FSSC 22000 certification. And, to get this certification you must undergo food safety compliance audits

Food safety compliance audits: What’s it about?

The Public Health Act (Act 63 of 1977), Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (Act 54 of 1972) and numerous food standards contain provisions directing the food industry to ensure the provision of safe food and to maintain a high degree of hygiene. 

Food safety compliance audits are essentially surveys done by external, registered auditors – to ensure that you are following regulations. 

These audits are not to be confused with GAP audits, which take place before the actual compliance audit. GAP audits are just a way for you to ensure that you are ready for the real audit, as they help you to find weak spots in your safety management system. By conducting a GAP audit first, you can correct your mistakes so that your official audit is a success. 

Stages of food safety compliance audits 

Food safety is an ongoing project, which means you should never stop working at getting better and implementing more efficient and reliable processes. That’s why auditing is an ongoing process too. As you will see below, it occurs twice before you get your certification, and annually over the following few years. 

And, just as a reminder, you’ll need to organise an audit with an official certification body – and ensure that you have all the relevant documents and have complied with regulations prior to the audit. 

Here’s how it works. 

Phase 1 – The initial audit 

In this audit, the inspector will look at your premises and the safety management systems that your organisation has put in place. Their aim is to establish whether or not you have followed the requirements of the FSSC 2200, and the laws within the country. 

Your organisation must be up and running at the time of this audit, and you must be prepared to present a minimum of 6 months’ worth of records to the auditor. 

At the end of this audit, the you will receive a list of safety elements that you have ranked below average on. The auditor will not present you with any other findings, and you have 6 months to correct the issues that they have listed. 

Phase 2 – The follow up audit 

Six months (at the most) after your initial audit, you’ll receive another visit from the inspector. This time they will assess whether you have fixed the issues they found in the previous audit, along with a general check-up of your food safety management systems. 

Again, your premises will have to be in operation at the time of the audit. 

At the end of the process, the auditor will present you with findings. Should you have any major or critical errors, you will not receive a FSSC 22000 certificate at the end of this process. However, if the results are clear then you will receive the certificate. 

Phase 3 – Check Ups 

As we mentioned earlier, food safety compliance audits are on ongoing effort. You will be subject to what is called a “surveillance audit” once every year, for three years after you receive your certificate. These will occur at a random date, so you cannot prepare for them. The purpose of this is to ensure that you are consistently implementing good food safety practices. 

Phase 4 – Recertification Audit 

After three years of having your certificate, you’ll have to get it renewed. And, to do this, you’ll have to undergo the audit process once again. 

Final Thoughts 

Not only do food safety audits ensure that you are rigidly following rules and regulations, but it also builds a culture of foo safety in your establishment. It may sound like a rigorous process, but it’s necessary and it will go smoothly as long as you’re prepared. Contact AssureCloud if you’re in need of a food safety or compliance audit. 

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