Any Quality or Technical Manager will admit that food safety management systems do not implement and maintain themselves. It takes hard work and constant dedication as well as a lot of patience. And just when you think you are on top of your game, a new standard is published, and the goal posts are moved a few meters further.
2018 saw the introduction of a revised BRC standard (Issue 8), ISO 22000:2018 and audits against FSSC version 4.1 also commenced form January 2018. And, before you get too excited and think that 2019 will be a quiet year, FSSC will publish version 5 of their standard in May this year.
In light of all these changes Progress Excellence in association with ProCert have developed the following tips on how to pass your next audit:
How to Pass your Next Audit
- STAY AHEAD OF THE CHANGES:
Most standards are published with a 12 – 36-month implementation period. BRC, IFS and FSSC typically allow a 12-month transition period. Make the most of the transition period by familiarizing yourself with the changes as soon as they are published. Progress Excellence offers various 1-day bridging workshops which are useful in dissecting and understanding the changes as well as the impact that they have on your site.
- DEVELOP AN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN:
Once the team have familiarized themselves with the changes, an action plan with key items for completion, due dates and responsibilities must be established to ensure that there is enough time to effectively implement the new requirements. Our 1-day bridging workshops all include a handy list of “to do” items which you can use as a basis for your conversion project plan.
- SCHEDULE MORE FREQUENT FOOD SAFETY TEAM MEETINGS:
The food safety team meeting is the ideal forum to track the implementation action plan. These meetings do not have to be intensely long but should be short and ideally focus on the implementation project, resource needs and other challenges the team may be facing.
- ALWAYS START AT THE END:
Most of the GFSI-benchmarked standards like BRC and FSSC include a requirement to effectively address previous audit non-conformances. It is wise to review the previous audit non-conformances and confirm that the root causes have been determined and the required actions to address these non-conformances have been implemented. Failure to do so could result in a major non-conformance during your next audit where the auditor will review the effective implementation of action plans relating to the previous year’s non-conformances.
- TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK:
As far as possible the effective implementation, maintenance and improvement of the food safety management system should rest on a team of individuals as opposed to a single person. Make sure that deputies are assigned for all key positions, including the food safety team leader. All too often organizations perform poorly during an audit because a key person has left the company and literally nobody else understands the functioning of the food safety management system.
Needless to say, 2019 will also see the introduction of the first mandatory unannounced FSSC surveillance audits. These tips will help you be in a position to welcome the auditor with a smile (even if it is a fake one) when they arrived at your factory door.
Author: Debbie Brandt - Progress excellence