If you’re running a food-related business, then you know the importance of food safety. Maintaining food safety standards is essential for protecting your customers and your business. One way to ensure that food safety standards are being met is by conducting regular food safety audits.
But what is a food safety audit, and do you conduct one? This article will answer those questions and provide tips on creating a food safety audit for your own business.
What is a Food Safety Audit?
A food safety audit is a systematic and documented process in which an organization assesses its food safety system against recognized food safety standards. The food safety audit aims to identify areas where food safety practices are not being followed and make recommendations for improvement.
Today’s consumers are more aware of food safety laws and regulations, particularly the risk of food contamination. That’s why food safety audits are becoming more and more prevalent. In addition, food safety agencies put a heavy emphasis on safety and hazard analysis and their prevention to protect consumer health.
Food safety audits are usually observed to satisfy food safety requirements mandated by food regulatory agencies. However, food safety audits can also be voluntary and conducted by the business itself or by third-party food safety organizations.
Why Is Food Safety Audit Important?
A food safety audit plays a fundamental role in certifying that an organization follows food safety standards. It provides valuable insights into an organization’s food safety practices and can identify areas where it needs improvements. Additionally, food safety audits create transparency across the supply chain, enhancing food safety overall.
Types of Food Safety Audit
There are different food safety audits—categorized as either “internal” or “external” audits. An audit is considered internal if conducted by experienced and qualified food safety managers or professionals. On the other hand, food safety audits performed by second or third-party organizations are referred to as external audits.
These audits are subdivided into three main types based on the food safety system being audited:
- First-party Audit: This type of food safety audit is conducted by in-house employees. The employees assigned to perform a food safety audit will evaluate the food safety system of their organization. First-party audits are usually conducted routinely to ensure full compliance with food safety and an external food safety audit readiness.
- Second-party Audit: Also known as a proprietary audit, this type of audit is conducted by an external organization on behalf of the food industry. A second-party audit aims to evaluate the food safety system of food suppliers, food manufacturers, food distributors, and food retailers.
- Third-party Audit: A third-party audit is conducted by an independent organization not associated with the food industry. This type of audit aims to provide an objective assessment of an organization’s food safety system. It is usually conducted when an organization seeks food safety certification.
Regardless of what food safety audit you opt for, all of them are directed towards the same goal—to ensure that food safety standards are being met.
Steps of Food Safety Audit
Whether the audit is conducted by your in-house food safety committee or an external, third-party auditor, every food safety audit follows a specific procedure and key areas. Then, this ensures that all food safety audits are conducted consistently and reliably.
The steps involved in conducting a food safety audit are as follows:
- Planning and Preparation: The food safety audit team will first develop an audit plan. This plan will include the objectives of the audit because of the food safety standards that will be audited, the locations to be audited, and the people who will be interviewed.
- Conducting the Audit: The food safety audit team will conduct on-site audits at each location. During these audits, they will observe food handling practices, take photos, and interview food handlers.
- Corrective and Preventive Actions: Food safety audits may identify food safety hazards in some cases. So if this is the case, the food safety audit team will work with the organization to develop corrective and preventive actions to address these hazards.
- Verification: The food safety audit process does not end after the corrective and preventive actions have been implemented. The food safety audit team will verify that these actions have effectively addressed the food safety hazards.
- Audit Evaluation: In the actual audit process, auditors need to evaluate their real progress. Evaluating the entire auditing process ensures that it remains on track and is improved as needed.
Preparing for a Food Safety Audit
A food safety audit can be a very tedious process. But it’s important to remember that it is crucial to ensure optimum food safety. So food businesses must take the necessary steps to prepare for a food safety audit.
Here are some useful tips you can use to prepare for a food safety audit:
Review Your Basic Food Safety Knowledge
A food safety audit will test your food safety knowledge. Therefore, it is important to review the basics of food safety before the audit. This includes foodborne illnesses, food contamination, and food spoilage.
Make Sure You Have a Food Safety Management System in Place.
A food safety management system is a set of procedures and processes designed to ensure food safety. Your business should have a food safety management system before the food safety audit.
Identify Your Food Safety Hazards.
A food safety hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm to consumers. Therefore, it is important to identify all the food safety hazards associated with your food business because this will help you to develop appropriate food safety controls.
Review Documentation Files
One of the things that the food safety auditor will do is review your food business’s documentation. So, make sure that all of your documentation is up-to-date and accurate.
Use Checklists for Food Safety Audit Preparation
Checklists are a great way to ensure that you have covered all of the bases in preparing for a food safety audit. There are many food safety audit checklists available online.
Develop Food Safety Controls
Once you have identified the food safety hazards associated with your food business, you will need to develop food safety controls to mitigate these hazards. These controls can include Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
By following these tips, you can be sure that you are prepared for your food safety audit.
Key Areas for Food Safety Audit
A food safety audit will evaluate your food business operations to identify areas for improvement. Additionally, here are some key areas that the food safety auditor will focus on:
- Food handling practices
- Food safety procedures
- Employee hygiene
- Food preparations
- Pest control
- Sanitation and cleaning
- Facility design
- Waste management
- Food safety management system
- Storage and transportation of food
Keep these key areas in mind as you prepare for your food safety audit. By doing so, you can be sure that you are prepared for the food safety audit.
Why DataMyte is Perfect for Food Safety Audit
When it comes to food safety audits, it’s important to use a platform that can help you streamline the process. The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is the perfect platform for food safety audits.
DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a workflow automation software that can help you automate your food safety audit process. With the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you can:
- Firstly, create a workflow specific to your food safety audit process; use our workflow templates or upload your own.
- Secondly, collect data using smart checklists and forms for better integrity; add date, time stamps, photos, bar codes, electronic signatures, and geo tracking for complete data collection.
- Thirdly, analyze your food safety audit data in real-time; identify areas of improvement and make changes to your food safety procedures.
- Fourthly, assign food safety audit tasks to specific employees and track their progress in real-time.
- lastly, Get real-time reporting and analytics; generate food safety audit reports on the fly.
DATAMYTE is the perfect platform for food safety audits. With DATAMYTE, you can streamline your food safety audit process and improve your food safety procedures. Get started with DATAMYTE today! Visit our website to learn more.
A food safety audit is crucial in maintaining food safety standards and certification. So by understanding what a food safety audit is and how to create one, you will be able to create a food safety audit for your food business. Get started today using DataMyte’s Digital Clipboard!