Food SafetyFood Safety ProgramsMarch 4, 2022by Gillian Van Someren-Hurley0Preparing for your regulatory food safety audit

When preparing for your audit you must have a good understanding on what you are being audited against.

As a food business in Australia you must comply with the Food Standards Code. Certain chapters within the code will apply to your business including Chapter 3: Food safety standards and if you are a primary production business Chapter 4: Primary production standards. If you are preparing food to be consumed off site such as meals-on-wheels you will also have to comply with some sections of Part 1.2 of the Code, Labelling and other information requirements.

The Food Standards Code can be accessed at https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx. You may also find the following guide offers helpful information about the standards and food safety issues  https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/pages/safefoodaustralia3rd16.aspx.

You will also have to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of your food safety plan.

It is advisable that you don’t leave your preparation until a week or two (2) before the audit. It is best to start the process at least a couple of months prior as it will allow you to implement corrective actions for any issues that you have identified during your review process.

During the audit the following documentation and records will be reviewed;

  • The food safety program – this should be reviewed at least annually, all food handling operations should have been analysed to identify any critical food safety hazards, and procedures put in place to control the hazards. The food safety program should be available to staff at all times, it can be paper based or an electronic version. Note that if it is an electronic version staff should know how to access it and be able to access the document at all times. This also includes weekend, casual and agency staff.
  • All audit results from the past four (4) years should be available upon request by a food safety auditor or authorised officer.
  • Monitoring forms to demonstrate compliance with the plan – these can also be paper based or electronic records, and should be fully completed and up-to-date.¬† The monitoring records should be reviewed to ensure they have been completed as required and all critical limits are being met. If necessary effective corrective action should be taken and recorded. You must have at least the last years monitoring records available for the audit.
  • The pre-requisite or support programs will also be reviewed including pest management, approved suppliers, chemical storage and safety, high risk foods, hygiene, staff training, internal audit, allergen management, labelling, product recall, calibration and maintenance. Ensure that you have the necessary documentation available including pest inspection reports, SDS forms for any cleaning or pest chemicals used on site, documentation that states that all the chemicals currently in use are safe to use in a food preparation area. Do you have a list of your approved suppliers? do you have their current certification/s available? Have staff completed their refresher training? Observe them in the process area are they complying with the uniform and personal hygiene requirements? If they are monitoring a critical control point do they have a good understanding of the critical limits and when and how to implement corrective action? Remember that auditors will ask staff questions, get them ready for it. If necessary conduct some one on one training.

A pre-audit checklist can be a useful tool. Base it on your previous audit conducted by the regulatory body or auditor. Ensure that you have implemented effective corrective action following any corrective action requests (CAR’s) raised during the previous audit. It is good practice to document it in an action plan to demonstrate how you addressed the issues raised.

A pre-audit check together with your annual internal audit demonstrates that the business is being pro-active in regards to food safety and compliance and will assist you to improve your system and procedures. If the pre-audit is conducted objectively with a mindset of improvement it should produce a good audit outcome.

Once your report has been compiled implement effective corrective action to rectify issues. The audit should involve both catering staff and staff from other areas of the business including maintenance, training/education and management.

 

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