Preparing for an unannounced food safety audit

Unannounced food safety audits are all part of the norm if you are required to be certified to a GFSI recognized standard.  Depending on where you are located, you may also have your local food safety regulator visit your food business without warning.   In this article find out my top five tips to prepare for your unannounced food safety audit.

Know the rules

This can not be emphasized enough. When you know the rules (or the requirements of your audit standard) you have a better chance of understanding and implementing the expectations ahead of time for your food business.

Operate as an audit ready business everyday

There have been many audits that I have performed over the past 20 years where is was blindingly clear that the food business only implemented particular food safety practices and cleaning activities for the purpose of the announced audit.

This way of business can quickly become a nightmare where unannounced food safety audits are concerned. The easiest way alleviate the stress of this situation is to just be audit ready every single day.

Cross train staff

Unfortunately, many food businesses rely on one person to manage all of the HACCP, food safety and quality compliance activities. With an unannounced food safety audit, there is a chance that this person may not be available because of sick leave, holidays or another reason.  If you use a food safety consultant, this may also be the case.

This is where it is so important to cross-train staff so there are many people who know how the system works, where to find records and can quickly locate relevant policies and procedures. At a minimum, deputies should be identified and trained for all key positions within your business.

Keep on top of verification activities

Verification activities are the things we do after the product has been made to check that our HACCP and food safety system is working as intended. Keeping on-top of completing verification activities when they are scheduled helps to avoid corrective action requests (CARs) being raised during an unannounced food safety audit.

If you would like a verification schedule template that highlights when activities are due or overdue please click here.

Train your food handlers

We all know that the more educated our staff are, the higher the chance of day-to-day compliance. When a food handler has been effectively trained and understands the ‘why’ factor, implementing food safety and quality compliance procedures becomes a habit.

Implementing these tips can help your food business to be prepared for an unannounced audit. Help out other members of the HACCP Mentor community by sharing your tips or unannounced audit experiences in the comments section below.

Get free HACCP advice and updates

Find out how to better implement and manage your HACCP, legal and food safety compliance requirements by joining the HACCP Mentor newsletter.

Scroll to Top