It's time to transform your approach to a Food Safety Audit. With our six valuable solutions, you can learn from the process and secure a positive result every time.

A Food Safety Audit is often a daunting prospect, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, there is a world in which you can actually look forward to your audits – viewing them as an opportunity to show off your site and receive praise for all your hard work. A Food Safety Audit can also offer you an opportunity to identify areas for growth and improvement, especially if you collaborate with your inspector and remain open to their suggestions.

If you dream of having this kind of audit experience, but don’t quite know how to make it a reality, this article was written with you in mind. The following six solutions will not only help you to sail through your upcoming food safety audit, but will also enhance operations at your site and improve the day to day running of your factory.

1. Prioritise the training of your operatives

Food Safety Audit

The first and arguably most important step is to communicate with your workforce, securing their cooperation as you prepare for the audit. This can be a difficult undertaking, especially if you are working with agency staff who may only be with you for a couple of days at a time. Language barriers can provide a further complication, as some operatives may struggle if you overload them with complex information that is difficult to process.

This is where Visual Management plays an important role, allowing you to reach team members of all skill levels and backgrounds. Highly visual signs are also easier to understand when you are in a rush or dealing with an emergency, a key benefit if your factory handles allergens and is particularly concerned with cross contamination.

You should also add step-by-step photos to your Cleaning Instructions Cards and could try reaching out to the suppliers of your equipment for any videos or webinars that you can share with your team.

Documenting your training efforts will prove invaluable when the time comes for you to complete your audit. After all, the last thing you want is for there to be an awkward pause when you are asked about the training of your operatives. You also can’t afford to be shown up by an ill-informed team member when there is an inspector at your site. Instead of taking this risk, you can make your training procedures the crowning glory of your auditing experience.

2. Ensure your equipment is stored correctly

Even with the thorough training of your operatives, there is still the possibility of your equipment being stored incorrectly, especially if you don’t have suitable stations set up across your site.

Improper storage could result in cross contamination and a serious non-conformance. It could also lead to equipment from different areas of your site being jumbled together, with utensils from low risk areas straying to high risk zones or vice versa.

Although Shadow boards are not required to pass an audit, they can certainly improve your chances. Colour-coded to support your site’s segregation, they will help your operatives to see exactly where they need to be sourcing and storing their equipment. The layout of these boards also ensures your utensils are safely positioned, eliminating the risk of items contaminating each other with drips or debris.

Food Safety Audit
Shadow boards

Shadow board Inspiration Guide

Want to learn more about shadow boards? From engineering tool boards and storage for your spill kits to PPE bases and change part stations, there are over 70 shadow board designs to explore in our Inspiration Guide.

3. Highlight the importance of hygiene

Throughout the Food Safety Audit, your auditor needs to see how important hygiene is to your site. In fact, you need to make it clear that hygiene is one of your top priorities and an area where you are always striving to do better. After all, this matter relates to the safety of your customers and the integrity of your brand. Hygiene also relates to a number of common non-conformances, so it really is of paramount importance. Below are four ways for you to convey your commitment to this cause:

Food Safety Audit

Hygienically Designed Equipment

Your equipment should be quick and easy to dismantle, free from trap points and harbourages, suited to regular cleaning, and fit for purpose. This will help your operatives to achieve the best results possible in the shortest amount of time. It will also reduce the risk of an auditor discovering dirty, broken, or unsuitable utensils at your site.

Food Safety Audit

Quality Protective Clothing

An auditor will be seriously concerned if they see your hygiene team carrying out their duties in dirty and visibly worn protective clothing. Equipping your team with high quality gear such as the WashGuard range will not only make your operatives happier and more productive, but will also help you to meet the current standards and specifications.

Food Safety Audit

Instrumentation and Monitoring

A common misconception is that ATP testing detects all organic residue. In truth, it can only detect ATP, and it is actually the A3 meter that detects adenosine molecules in all three forms. This provides you with a great opportunity to enhance your hygiene testing – using the A3 meter to train your operatives, validate cleans, and impress your auditor.

Food Safety Audit

Clean As You Go Approach

If you haven’t already established a ‘clean as you go approach’ within your factory, this should be a priority. It will raise standards, reduce downtime and instil personal pride in your workforce. Instead of leaving everything to your Hygiene Team, spills and cross contamination risks should be dealt with immediately.

4. Carry out a comprehensive test run

When was the last time you carried out an internal Food Safety Audit? Although it might seem like a source of additional stress, self-audits are actually a great way for you to achieve peace of mind. They can help you to ensure your process is safe, streamlined, and consistent with the latest legislation.  

If you are determined to be rigorous in your approach, you should consider asking someone from a sister site to carry out the audit. You could even ask them to make their visit unannounced. As with a real audit, they will need to conduct a thorough inspection of your site and have access to the relevant documentation.

Food Safety Audit

If this process raises any inefficiencies or serious risks, you will need to act immediately – modifying your procedures, retraining your staff, and investing in new equipment. Unlike a real audit, you will have a chance to do this before the consequences are more severe, enhancing your site before its future is placed in the hands of an external body. 

You will also need to think about the way in which you are documenting your internal audits. A common non-conformity links to the frequency and documentation of internal audits, so it’s important that you are ready to share any relevant results should your official inspector ask to see them. One of the best ways for you to prepare for this is to switch out paper checklists for a Digital Management System, as this will allow you to access your records at the click of a button.

5. Establish a clear plan for the future

Another important step is to establish a clear plan for the future of your site. Covering everything from the equipment you would like to invest in to the procedures you are set to enhance, this plan should position you as an ambitious, conscientious, and proactive individual who is determined to raise standards at every level.

Food Safety Audit

A vision for the future will also help your auditor to trust in your ability to address any issues raised by their investigation. Say your inspector questions the ability of your operatives to ascertain which brushes belong in high care, high risk, or low risk zones. If you are able to share your plans to install Shadow Boards at your site and improve your current approach to colour coding, this will show that you are aware of the issue and actively seeking a solution.

Of course it is best to resolve any issues before your audit takes place, but if you do get caught out, displaying an awareness of the solutions available and a determination to secure them as soon as possible could be the difference between a pass or a fail.

6. Make your auditor feel welcome

Food Safety Audit

A simple step, but one that is often overlooked is to make your auditor feel welcome. Although it is natural to be nervous, you don’t want it to appear as though you have something to hide. Instead, you should view this as an opportunity to show off your site and all the positive steps you have been taking. Perhaps you are particularly proud of your colour-coding system? Maybe you have recently upgraded your hygiene testing equipment? No matter the status of your site, you need to highlight all of its plus points and remain open if any areas for improvement are raised. Making sure someone is on hand to greet your auditor, taking the time to engage in some friendly small talk, and keeping your body language open is the best way to ensure your site is well represented.

So there you have it, six ways to increase the likelihood of your site passing its upcoming food safety audit. Hopefully, you now have a clear idea of the steps you need to take in order to impress your inspector and avoid as many non-conformances as possible. From simple matters such as greeting your auditor with a warm smile and an open demeanour to more complex strategies such as upgrading your hygiene testing equipment, there are plenty of avenues for you to explore. Here at Klipspringer, we are eager to support you throughout this process, so if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01473 461800 or Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch.

If you would like further guidance relating to the solutions outlined in this article, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below to arrange a free consultation.