Preparing for an Audit
Why do I need an audit?
Food safety has been in the headlines lately. It is top of mind for everyone in the industry. In fact, some on-farm food safety programs may require your farm to go through an audit to reassure buyers and consumers about the safety of your product(s).
By passing an audit you:
What is the purpose of an audit?
What happens during an audit?
1. You receive an audit notice. The auditor may send you a notice in advance to arrange your audit. This notice may also explain the audit and how to prepare.
2. The auditor will visit your farm on the date you choose. During an on-farm audit, the auditor may:
3. Provide you with an audit report. After your on-farm audit, you may ask for a copy of the report. The report will tell you what areas scored well and what areas you need to improve to comply fully with your food safety program.
If everything is in order, congratulations! You will pass the audit.
How do I prepare for an audit?
First, know the scope of the audit. For example, does it include your farm, your packinghouse, or both? Is it just for food safety or quality as well? Will it review how well you are meeting your customer's needs, or just food safety?
Here are seven more tips to help you prepare:
1. Review your program manual, or the audit standards before the audit.
2. Review the audit checklist if there is one. It will guide you through what the audit will cover.
3. Have all the records you need at hand. Most audits ask for records going back up to a year.
4. Check your premises for food safety concerns by using the program manual or audit checklist as a reference. This includes both equipment and buildings. Look for things like holes in the wall, facilities for hand washing, light covers, chemical and medicine storage and so on. Fix the problems you spot before the audit.
5. Clean your premises. This includes floors, contact surfaces, equipment and garbage.
6. Review your last audit report if you have one. Make sure that you have fixed any concerns that came up at that time.
7. Ask for tips and advice from friends who have been through an audit or on-farm food safety experts. This is important if you find it hard to understand the program standards, or on how to meet them.
Remember: the goal of the audit is not to fail you, but to help you improve food safety on your farm. It will help you fix any concerns before they become problems. It will also help you prevent problems from recurring.
In the end, an audit gives you a competitive edge. And, it increases your customers' confidence in the food products you sell. It can be one of the best investments you make in your farm's future.
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