Food safety audits, whether they are BRC Announced, Unannounced or Customer Audits, are often stressful for Food Manufacturers, in particular the QA staff. After all it is the QA staff that bear the initial burden of audit failure. However, audit failure represents a breakdown compliance and should be taken seriously by all staff as it can result in irreparable damage to an organisation.
Why Do Manufacturers Fail Audits
There is a number of reasons why manufacturers fail audits, however the most common areas are:
- Failing to properly implement HACCP
- Poor documentation management
- Failing to implement adequate supplpier controls
- The failure of senior management commitment
The key principle with HACCP is the preventions of foodborne diseases and the safety of consumers. Areas of failure are not limited to but include:
- Preventative measures are in place for food safety including fraud – (For more information about fraud, read the TACCP White Paper article)
- Labeling, packaging and storage
- Employee training and behaviour
- Pest control
Your food manufacturing site might be operating above standard for compliance, however this is little to no value if you fail to maintain high-quality supplier controls. All external, raw materials should be traceable and adhere to the same quality standards.
Poor Documentation Management
Failing to maintain records appropriately will hinder your chance of successfully passing an audit. Showing that you can maintain the correct records for quality management is crucial for an organisation to remain compliant.
Lack of Senior Management Commitment
It has been shown that audit failures are rarely due to simpy one violation to safety and quality standards, it is usually due to multiple violations.
This could be an indication of poor commitment to food safety compliance by senior management.
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The Impact of Audit Failures
The impact associated with audit failure varies from financial costs to long-term damage to brand reputation. A recent study by UK Food Safety, put the cost of food disease at approximately £1.5 Billion.
From an internal perspective, rescheduling audits after a failure can cause a disruption to staff, and day-to-day business, presenting a financial burden to the company.
At its most extreme, an audit failure can lead to a recall, resulting in a significant and sometimes irreparable cost to the company.
In an article relating to product recalls at Lidl from Food Manufacture UK, advice is offered to help avoid millions of pounds of damage to the company.
Costs to Brand Reputation
For consumers, trust is key, a breach in compliance could lead to a public relations nightmare for a company, resulting in heavy, long-term financial losses.
Being Audit Ready
HACCP documentation is one of the key components in food safety auditing.
Important areas to consider:
- Identify Food Safety Critical Supplies
- Primary & Secondary Packaging Materials
- Pest Control
- Supplier Matrix – automated non-paper based
- Supplier traceability
At Nvolve Group, we often hear customers say things like “There is so much paperwork required when doing audits”, or “I spend ages transferring audit actions onto Excel for tracking”. Using modern and simple technology solutions to manage your documentation is crucial for remaining audit ready.
Senior Management need to know exactly where non-conformances are arising and have access to that information at anytime.