Food Safe, Food Wise: Why Food Audits Are Good For Business – Part One Food businesses can take any number of forms, but one factor they all have in common is the strict hygiene and safety standards they are required to meet. From the hygiene of the staff that prepare and serve food to the way in which it is stored, there are all too many opportunities to fall foul of the law. This is where food audits can prove invaluable.
In the first of our Food Safe, Food Wise blogposts we take it back to basics. What are food audits and what role does a food auditor play within your business?
Waiting for a routine visit from a food inspector will often be too little, too late. Food audits enable you to take proactive steps towards compliance, putting your business in the best possible position to meet its legal obligations.
What is a food audit?
Food audits are crucial to ensuring food safety standards are met and maintained. Whether you are running a new or more established business, there is plenty to be learnt from an audit.
An audit will be arranged at management level and involves an auditor visiting your business to carry out a thorough assessment of food safety standards. They are independent, objective and provide a fresh pair of eyes from a qualified and experienced safety auditor. The aim is to provide a measure of whether safety standards are being met, before identifying areas for improvement.
It’s important not to view food audits as another regulatory burden. They are not a legal requirement, but could be the difference between meeting your obligations and following incorrect procedures that ultimately lead to your business being shut down.
One of the options available to you is an unannounced food audit, as this will provide the most accurate insight into your operations. An auditor will visit your business and, as the name suggests, your members of staff won’t be informed beforehand.
There’s no hard and fast rule as to how often you should carry out a food audit. However, experts advise that a quarterly or bi-annual assessment will be most effective; this makes it easier to see how well you have implemented the auditor’s recommendations, and whether they are having the intended effect. Committing to regular, rolling audits can also be a demonstration of how important food safety is to your management team.
The role of a food auditor
Your food audit experience is designed to be a positive one. The auditor is not just there to find fault in your operations but offer advice and guidance on how to improve.
There are some key characteristics that you should look for in a food auditor:
Experience – many auditors will have previously been in other food-based or environmental health roles, giving them a clear idea of what it takes to be compliant Thorough – whether the auditor is analysing your entire Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan or just a small section, it’s important they are comprehensive in their assessment Clear – the issues identified through a food audit need to be relayed in a clear and concise manner so business owners understand what is expected of them Approachable – many questions are likely to arise throughout the food audit, an approachable auditor ensures clients get the most out of the visit Motivational – a food audit will identify a number of areas of improvement for a food business; delivering this advice while still keeping morale high can be a challenge In next week’s blogpost we’re going to take a look at the benefits food safety audits can bring to your business and why they’re a good tool to invest in!