Preparing for an audit: Are you ready?

Mar 22, 2022, 16:33 PM by Fred Speer

Clark Commercial Blog – December 2021

The key to a successful third-party audit is preparation. Audits involve a great amount of detail, no matter which audit standard (AIB, BRC, SQF, etc.) you practice. Preparedness is essential. Is your facility ready for its next scheduled or unscheduled audit?

A successful audit is important for many reasons. Suppliers that food processors sell to will look at audit scores and often will use them as a basis for buying decisions. Successful audits not only equal food safety, but increased business as well.

A poor – or even worse, failed – audit negatively affects a company’s brand reputation with suppliers and potential consumers, it can lead to additional expenses to correct the issues, and it can even cost a QA or plant manager his or her job.

What causes a poor audit?

While assisting clients with hundreds of audits over the years, Clark Pest Control has identified two critical issues that can put a facility at a higher risk for a poor audit – poor documentation, and lack of oversight and follow-up.

Poor documentation practices are a leading reason for a poor (or, in extreme cases, a failed) audit score. Missing or poorly organized information will frustrate auditors, and can lead them to believe, if this element isn’t well-managed, what the rest of the facility is like.

It is imperative that QA managers and their teams know their documentation inside and out and ensure that it’s current. Just like studying for a test, managers need to review and be familiar with the material and be able to easily explain it to an auditor or inspector.

Whether a facility maintains its information in an electronic logbook or paper binder, it must be up to date, complete, and accessible to an auditor. A missing service report, license, or material usage document can sink an audit.

Clark Pest Control understands the absolute need to ensure the integrity of the documentation that is presented, especially when it relates to pest management. We provide value to clients by helping them with the documentation process and by keeping their operation continuously audit-ready and open for business.

Poor follow-up when correcting conditions conducive to pests is one of the fastest ways to achieve a poor audit score. Clark Pest Control provides detailed recommendations to facility maintenance or cleaning crews on sanitation, structural, or cultural items that need to be remedied to lessen the risk of pest activity.

When an auditor reviews a logbook and sees an open condition that has been on the books for months, it will raise a red flag.

An example of a condition that often gets written up in the audit process is failing to pest proof exterior access doors. If an auditor or inspector notices light under a door, it’s likely that will be noted on the report. The solution is to install door sweeps that deter pests and avoid issues with auditors.

The changing face of audits

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way certain elements of third-party audits are performed. Auditors are now using hybrid audits that involve remotely reviewing documents with facility managers and their pest management service provider. Even though the auditor might not be sitting across the table from you, it is the responsibility of the client and their pest management service provider to be prepared.

Get back to the basics

Evaluate your facility to be sure that you have strong foundational elements of food safety in place – sanitation, allergen control, and GMP compliance. These are the areas auditors and inspectors will focus on. Look at any recurring pest problems or conditions in your facility, and make sure that you are getting at the root cause and not just treating the symptoms.

Commit to training

Conduct refresher training on food safety practices and on how to prepare and manage audits and inspections, including updating inspection manuals. It’s important to reinforce key themes and the importance of complying with GMPs daily.

As the U.S. FDA implements FSMA, training will continue to be important to ensure that plant managers and employees understand what is expected of them.

When you partner with a pest management service provider that has extensive experience with ever-changing third-party audit standards, is comfortable interacting with auditors and inspectors, and collaborates with you all year long to stay ready, you will have peace of mind going into any audit.

Clark Pest Control is committed to safeguarding your business or commercial property from pests during these challenging times. Our service technicians use such personal protective equipment as gloves, masks, and respirators, they practice social distancing, and they adhere strictly to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when servicing inside or outside your home.

If your commercial property demands innovative pest management solutions and a pest management partner that understands your business, give Clark Pest Control a call at (800) 936-3339.