Top Employment Tips For 2019: Boost Your Hygiene Rating With An Unannounced Food Audit Food businesses follow some of the strictest regulations around, but how do you know your organisation is meeting the required standards? In the final blog post of our 2019 New Year’s resolutions series, the ELAS Group’s food safety consultancy manager, Dave Griffin, highlights just some of the advantages of arranging an unannounced food audit. What is an unannounced food audit?
As the name suggests, an unannounced food audit involves an auditor visiting your business to assess food safety standards. These visits will usually be arranged at management level, but staff members can be kept in the dark to enable the auditor to gain a true representation of day-to-day activities.
The experience is designed to be a positive one; the auditor will not only highlight shortfalls, but also offer recommendations on how they can be overcome and also appraise good practices.
Unannounced food audits should be carried out quarterly or bi-annually. This way, an accurate time-frame can be put in place for correcting any problems before they have the potential to spiral out of control. They are suitable for food businesses of all types and sizes.
What is covered in an unannounced food audit
Food audits will involve a brief opening meeting with the auditor, who will then observe practices within your business. They will hold discussions with staff and management to try and measure food safety culture within the organisation.
Aside from observation of practices and procedures, you would be asked to present a full set of food safety documentation and audit records. These verify you are complying with your internal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan – a document outlining how food is kept safe from chemical, biological and physical food safety hazards.
Food safety businesses have a legal requirement to implement corrective action if there is a problem with their Critical Control Points (CCPs), and an unannounced food audit can provide support in making sure this is the case.
The auditor will then request a closing meeting with the duty manager, which they will use to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve food safety.
The benefits of an unannounced food audit
Audits are invaluable for senior management, as they can use the findings to identify and strengthen weak areas of their operation. They can also be used as a tool to recognise and reward high standards. Audit scores and statistics can be benchmarked and monitored to provide a measure of safety culture over time.
Audits may identify proactive improvements required to achieve a good Food Hygiene Rating. As these are publicly visible, this outcome can make the investment more than worthwhile.
Then there’s your customers to consider. High food safety standards will better protect your client base, helping to maintain your reputation by reducing the likelihood of complaints and compensation claims.
Some businesses use unannounced food audits as a means of maintaining healthy competition among rival companies, or even across multi-site operations.
Start 2019 with an unannounced food audit
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to ensure stricter food safety standards, then an unannounced audit could be just the solution. The ELAS Group has a team of experts dedicated to improving the food safety standards of your business, so give them a call on 08450 50 40 60 to discuss your options.