internal food safety audits

How to schedule your internal food safety audits

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This is no different when it comes to scheduling your internal food safety audits. From my experience, I have found that scheduling audits helps to ensure that your internal food safety audits are completed. In this post learn more about the philosophy behind internal food safety audits and how to schedule them.

What is an internal food safety audit schedule?

An audit schedule documents what type of audit will be conducted and when you will carry out. It can also document who will be responsibility for conducting the audit. The most common type of audit schedule will cover an entire year.


The purpose of an internal audit schedule is to plan the type and number of audits, as well as, to identify and provide the necessary resources to conduct them.  When you clearly plan or schedule internal audit activities, there is a greater chance of successfully achieving your overall audit outcomes.

But Why?

If you are certified to a GFSI recognized standard you should be aware of the requirement to have an audit schedule developed that details the scope and frequency of your internal audits. If you are not sure, take a moment to review what your certification standard requires. Here are some reference points from common standards:

  • SQF –  2.5.5 Internal Audits and Inspections (Ed. 8)
  • BRC – 3.4 Internal Audits
  • IFS Food – 5.1 Internal Audits
  • FSSC (ISO22000) – 8.4.1 Internal Audit
  • Woolworths – 18.4 Validation and Verification
  • Freshcare – M4 Internal audit and corrective action

Get skilled to complete internal audits in your food business. Check out our online internal auditing training by clicking here.

Components of an internal food safety audit schedule

Let’s now look a little bit deeper into the components of an internal audit schedule. The main components are:

The area that you are going to audit. This is also known as the scope. I usually like to break these down into the different areas of my food safety management system. For example, HACCP, pest control, cleaning, calibration, maintenance, allergen management etc.

When you are going to complete the audit.  The frequency that you are going to audit needs to take into consideration any specified regulatory, 3rd party GFSI standard and customer contract requirements. At a minimum, you should seek to perform an internal audit on your entire food safety & quality management system annually. Some standards will allow you to schedule the frequency of your audit based on risk.

You will also need to consider capability. How many auditors do you need, how big or small is your audit area and time of production.

Lock in a date

One thing that I do recommend is locking in an actual date that you are going to conduct the audit, rather than just state, say, the month or week that the internal food safety audit will be conducted. This will help you to stay on target and not let audits roll-into the next month and the next month and the next.

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How do you schedule your internal food safety audits? Share your knowledge with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below.

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