Auditing and the Food Industry are like an old married couple – always in cahoots. However, implementing a strong auditing framework doesn’t have to mean more negativity. Auditing is a critical infrastructure for your food or beverage company, if implemented properly it offers a robust continuous feedback loop, which can be tracked and managed accordingly to better your facilities health, safety and quality scores through executing best food hygiene practices.
Why does auditing matter?
Having a robust auditing infrastructure will improve the operations & the output from your food and beverage facility.
A food safety audit is an important tool used for verifying proper food safety practices in food processing facilities. They are official inspections conducted by food safety management systems (FSMS) such as HACCP, BRC and SQF Food auditors are like health inspectors perform health and safety checks at a very technical level, far more complicated than that of a restaurant check (fda.gov).
Risk management procedures are at the core of auditing, effectively managing risk is the desired outcome of such audits. There are two key kinds of auditing:
1. Internal Auditing
2. External Auditing
External Auditing is conducted by trusted 3rd parties that offer accreditation for being compliant. Most in the industry see external audits as the most important to do well in, as the auditors reserve the right to holt production should the facility not be compliant with the auditor’s expectations. Examples include BRC, HACCP and SQF mentioned above.
However, at SGA we believe success starts in the organisation’s values. Over the last 20 years of operation in the food and beverage industry and countless audits, we’ve identified a few key trends with audit success. Time and time again the customers that pass with flying colours are those who have a robust food safety program, headlined with a well supported internal audit team. Creating such a culture makes exceeding food safety standards easy.
Critically, internal auditors create opportunity for food organisations to improve systems and processes as an external auditor leaves after the audit is conducted, but the internal auditor must continue to work at the facility. (foodqualityandsafety.com)
The benefits of an auditing infrastructure:
As mentioned above, adopting a robust food safety program can build an effective feedback loop that is conducive to continuous improvement. However, here are some additional benefits you can expect from developing an effective internal audit process:
- Improved quality & safety processes
- Continuous Improvement mechanism via a strong feedback loop
- The facility is compliant and audit-ready at all times
- Pass important external audits without a scramble
- Creates a powerful culture around food hygiene that gets reflected in your brand
- Pick up on potential damaging events before they happen
- Mitigate the risk of a damaging and costly event
- Improved communication between parties
The facilities that perform the best are those that systematise and auditing is a prime example of this. Leveraging today’s technology and Implementing a digital platform to log, store and manage both internal audits and assist external audits yields fantastic results with many of our customers. Having the capacity to share/access such detailed reports and the ability to pinpoint any date has proven extremely useful since the beginning of covid-19 as we see remote audits increase in popularity.
At SGA, part of our value offering is we implement a proven auditing software for the customer, accompanied by training for key personnel to get the most out of the software. Our site manager would use this software to document every clean and the customer would be able to make requests or give feedback in real-time. This level of communication and documentation allows us to immediately action the feedback and with photographic evidence attached and logged. It is a seamless and robust process, a fantastic solution to protect and improve both the customers & SGA’s brand.
How you can build your own Auditing Infrastructure:
Here is what you need to benefit from your own auditing infrastructure:
- A digital platform with cloud storage, multi-user and detailed reporting capabilities.
- An internal QA team that is comfortable using technology.
- KPI’s that are measurable, realistic & achievable with each clean.
- A scoring system to match those KPI’s.
- A team willing to log every clean on the system.
- A smartphone to operate the application on and take photos.
If you are still using pen and paper or an outdated auditing system it is certainly time to update. In the words of Peter Drucker “What gets measured gets managed.” In this case, we at SGA have seen this to be true. At all of our sites we Implement the same system with great results. When it comes to external audits, the audits love how easy the data is to access and interpret. Happy Auditor, happy life?
Our customers frequently see improvements in quality as the feedback loop is measurable and can pinpoint a specific resolution. Perhaps most beneficial though is the clarity from both parties, cleaners know exactly what to clean and the expectations are clearly set and management can see with photographs that the work has been executed. Thus the attitude to feedback is positively embraced as the same outcomes are desired sparking effective collaboration between parties. This is critical for continuous improvement.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found value in it and are inspired to level up the food safety controls of your food manufacturing facility. We hope your quality standards improve after implementing your own internal auditing infrastructure.
Should you need more guidance, you’re welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks – The SGA Team