a number of problems at the processing plant. It was apparent that the plant did not
take the actions necessary to eliminate the root cause of these problems. This is one
area where the internal audits developed by large companies have a distinct advantage
over all others.
Expertise in the Field, Processes or Product Being Audited – The Times piece
noted that one of the persons who audited the PCA plant was “an expert in fresh produce, who was not aware that peanuts were susceptible to Salmonella.” It is absolutely
imperative that auditors understand the products and processes that they are auditing,
in addition to understanding the audit process itself. How can someone give proper
service if they don’t know industry concerns and how they are addressed?
This is the most important issue of all. It is an embarrassment to the industry when
a publication such as The New York Times prints a quote such as this from an auditor, “I
never thought that this bacteria would survive in a peanut butter-type environment.
What the heck is going on?” ConAgra had a recall on peanut butter one year earlier
that cost in excess of $100 million. Kraft had a similar problem in Australia in the late
This is not a domestic issue only. There are firms around the world that have been
recognized as certifying bodies and are reputed to have the expertise to conduct audits
to certify that a company meets the requirements of the International Organization
for Standardization. In the food industry, ISO certification is an important part of
doing business. Yet, I have been in many food companies that were ISO-certified for
quality (ISO 9001), food safety (ISO 22000) and environmental responsibility (ISO
14001), but the auditors who certified them were experts in car batteries and electric
light bulbs. This has been a bone of conten-tion with ISO 22000 in particular. How
can one audit a food safety program without specific knowledge in that area?
One does not become a good auditor by attending a class and having a few years
of experience in the industry. Good auditors have years of experience with a range of
products, have seen many different operations and have the ability to find the
“skeletons in the closet.” They also make
a conscious effort to eliminate biases.
Too many auditors tend to focus on an
area in which they feel comfortable, and
assign too much weight to that area during an audit.
IS THERE A SOLUTION?
So, is there a solution to the many audits and requirements currently in the
market? The solution will have to not
only incorporate food quality, safety and
sanitation issues, but also consider that
auditing is now a big business. Companies that do audits for profit will not
want to give up their piece of the pie. As
noted, work by food safety professionals
at Cargill showed that most audit components are similar. The industry should
work together to bring all audits into harmonization. However, the real key is the
auditor. How does a company ensure
that its auditor is truly competent?
(continued on page 60)
AIB’s reputation and commitment to continuous improvement in providing superior food safety programs is demonstrated by our completely rewritten benchmark: The AIB Consolidated Standards for Inspections.
Consolidated Standards for Beverage
Facilities, Food Contact Packaging
Nonfood Contact Packaging
Manufacturing Facilities and Food
are now available.
AIB is accredited to conduct
SQF and BRC Global, ISO 9000,
and ISO 22000 audits worldwide.
Full details at www.aibonline.org
WE SET THE STANDARDS
– Two formats –
Comprehensive desktop manual and portable handbook