Audits, including internal and external audits, are nothing new to manufacturers that produce consumable items. But there are new requirements to audits for certification in the updated BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Being familiar with those requirements and how you should prepare for an audit can help you become certified and get a higher score.
You’ve decided to seek certification to the BRC Global Food Safety Standard. You’ve thoroughly read and understand Issue 8 updates. You believe your food safety culture is strong, or perhaps stronger than it used to be. Now what? There are key checkpoints you should know and prepare for as you seek certification to the Standard.
- Check Yourself: Self-assessment is an important tool in determining your current food safety culture and identifying gaps that may pose problems in an independent audit, such as gaps in detecting physical contaminants. You can conduct your own pre-audit assessment or bring in a third-party consultant. Keep in mind that regular internal audits are expected of companies that are certified to the Standard.
- Find Your Auditor: BRC provides a list of certified bodies who conduct BRC audits. Choose one that seems to be a good fit for your organization. Pricing information should be available from the independent certification body.
- Timing is Everything: Once you’ve selected a particular certification body, you need to set a mutually agreeable date for the audit itself, which typically takes place over two or three days. When agreeing to a date, make sure it’s an optimal time for your operation, based on the time of year, what’s running on your line, and which employees need to be present. Also keep in mind that re-audits take place either six months or a year after you receive your certification score.
- Loop in Senior Management: Per Issue 8, senior management should be present at the opening meeting with the auditor. That meeting will cover the logistics of the day(s) and what the audit will entail for the certifier and for the company being audited. Senior management should also be present at the closing meeting.
- Have Documents Handy: The auditor will want to see your HACCP plan and other documentation related to food safety practices and other related information.
- Check Your Traceability Capability: The auditor will evaluate many aspects of your operation. In addition to checking equipment, employees and other processes, he or she will conduct traceability tests onsite. An important factor to remember during your pre-audit self-assessment.
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