A recent food safety management system audit experience that left much to be desired. It all began with an auditor who failed to provide an audit schedule beforehand, leaving us somewhat unprepared. The uncertainty looming over us was palpable. On the actual audit day, the auditor made a fashionable entrance—fashionably late, that is. And rather than diving straight into the audit, they decided to set a different tone. The hours that followed were filled with personal anecdotes and stories, much like an experience that promises something unique but ultimately falls short.
As the auditor delved into their tales, one topic stood out above all others—their recent Caribbean vacation. It was as if we’d been transported to a beachside resort, sipping piña coladas under the swaying palm trees. The auditor regaled us with intricate descriptions of the pristine, sun-kissed beaches, sharing anecdotes of snorkeling adventures where they encountered vibrant coral reefs and exotic fish.
They didn’t stop at the scenery; the auditor described the local cuisine in mouthwatering detail. Each meal became an epic tale of culinary delight, from the tender, slow-roasted jerk chicken to the delectable, freshly caught seafood, seasoned to perfection. We were practically tasting the flavors as the stories flowed.
While these personal tales added a friendly and welcoming touch to the audit, they had an unintended consequence—they stretched the audit day well into the evening. As the hours ticked away, so did the patience of the management team, who were usually headed home by then. The friendly atmosphere that permeated the day was undeniable. However, beneath the camaraderie lay the subtle but critical issue—an auditor’s failure to allocate sufficient time to audit essential areas. It was a frustrating paradox—feeling at ease with the auditor’s friendly demeanor but equally frustrated by the lack of time dedicated to auditing critical areas such as the site’s HACCP program or food defense practices.
In the world of food safety consulting, the experience of a third-party audit can be as varied as the ingredients in a chef’s kitchen. GFSI certification audits such as SQF (Safe Quality Foods), and BRCGS (Brand Reputation through Compliance Global Standard) demand precision, but the auditor’s role in shaping this experience is often underestimated. Food Safety auditors come in all flavors, each with their unique style, approach, and attitude, and it’s these factors that can make or break the audit experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore the profound impact that auditors can have on the audit journey, emphasizing that the experience is often more cherished than a perfect score.
The Auditor’s Approach and Style
Food Safety auditors are like culinary artists; some create masterpieces with finesse, while other craft comfort food. Some auditors have a reputation for their meticulous scrutiny, while others take a more holistic, big-picture view. The approachable, flexible auditor can turn the audit process into a constructive dialogue, offering advice and fostering collaboration. The journey becomes less of an inquisition and more of a collective effort to enhance food safety.
One essential aspect that should not be overlooked is the qualifications of the auditor. A well-qualified auditor with in-depth knowledge of food safety standards and regulatory requirements can provide valuable insights and guidance during the audit. Their expertise can make the food safety audit experience more informative, beneficial, and productive for the auditee.
The Importance of an Audit Plan
A well-structured audit plan is like a recipe that ensures all the ingredients come together harmoniously. Some auditors excel at providing a comprehensive plan, setting the stage for a well-prepared and confident auditee. An organized auditor who values punctuality not only reduces stress but also manages time effectively during the audit, ensuring that all the essential ingredients are covered.
Handling the Small Stuff
During an audit, small issues may bubble up, akin to those unexpected kitchen mishaps. Some auditors can get sidetracked by these minor details, consuming precious time. Others, though, focus on the main course, addressing concerns and potential findings promptly and efficiently. This pragmatic approach ensures that the audit covers the necessary bases without unnecessary delays.
A constructive audit experience can serve as a catalyst for ongoing improvements within the audited company. It inspires a commitment to better food safety practices, ultimately leading to enhanced performance, reduced risks, and an improved food safety culture.
The Human Connection
Auditors with personality, friendliness, and a treasure trove of industry experience bring life to the food safety audit experience. They share real-world insights, discuss challenges, and build a sense of camaraderie. The friendly and amicable auditor transforms the audit from a daunting task into a collaborative adventure, offering reassurance and support.
A professional and collaborative relationship between auditors and auditees is vital. This relationship can significantly impact the overall audit experience and the company’s attitude towards audits. Open and respectful communication fosters a sense of partnership, rather than an adversarial encounter.
The Value of the Audit Experience
The audit experience is not solely about meeting compliance requirements and achieving third-party certification. It holds its own intrinsic value in fostering a culture of continuous improvement. A positive audit experience inspires employees to embrace food safety and quality as a shared mission, ultimately elevating the entire organization’s food safety culture. While achieving the best score is always desirable, it’s the journey of the audit itself that often leaves lasting impressions and provides opportunities for learning and growth.
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Article Written By:
profishant Food Safety