Nothing destroys a food production business’ reputation faster than food contamination. In light of consumer safety concerns, there is no room for error when it comes to producing food products.
A solution several businesses take to ensure continuous improvement is conducting food safety audits. Whether done internally or by a third party, these inspections ensure that operations by food and beverage manufacturers are compliant with the Food Standards Code.
Looming third-party audits often put business owners at edge, especially those who haven’t had one before. It’s a scary thought to see an inspector with a clipboard arrive at your facility, examine equipment and interview staff.
What is often overlooked is the fact that these inspections are useful in improving the level of your food safety program. The results of an audit, compiled by an industry expert, highlight what you should focus on so that your facility is more efficient, and that the products you distribute are safe for consumption.
Preparing for the audit
The success of daily business operations relies on planning and team effort, and audits are no exception. Meet with your team a few days before the audit day and discuss how to prepare. Assign workers to be in charge of different elements of your food safety protocol and make sure roles and responsibilities are clear.
Rehearse the audit by running a thorough inspection of the plant and interviewing workers about food safety protocols. Doing so reduces stress and ensures any issues on site can be discussed and resolved before the inspector arrives.
Taking a proactive approach
A business shouldn’t rely solely on an audit to improve its processes. A proactive approach ensures that your protocols are updated, processes are being followed and that future problems are identified before they occur.
It’s highly important to continuously review the Food Standards Code. Food Standards Australia’s regular updates cover topics such as production and processing standards, microbiological limits for food, and the sanitation of equipment or fixtures like stainless steel pipes. Updating yourself with the latest news allows you to modernise equipment and processes right away.
Your facility should also have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system in place. This plan organises procedures concerned with potential hazards involved during food production. It provides businesses with a checklist that must be followed each day. Make the most out of this system to find weak points and determine areas of noncompliance. Update the HACCP plan to include new additions to your plant, if needed.
Food safety auditors are more friend than foe, and they want you to improve your business operations as much as you do. With thorough preparation, you’ll be able to approach the audit day with the right mindset and gain insight into what else you can do to produce and deliver quality products.
The best approach, however, is being proactive. Creating a solid HACCP system, being updated with the latest food standards news and conducting regular internal audits are key to passing a third-party audit. This results in a good audit score, which will improve your business’ reputation.