Without a sustainable management system, the results of your hard work toward meeting the requirements of SQF, BRC, or FSSC 22000 certification could begin to degrade between routine audits. With so much at stake and competing demands from regulators, customers, and consumers, securing a sustainable Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) system can be a challenge.
The following guidelines can help your company stay audit-ready 24/7 while continuing to advance your GFSI systems.
Robust GFSI Internal Audits
GFSI standards require an internal audit of the entire system at least once per year. Prudent companies manage internal audits on a set schedule. Start by dividing sections of GFSI code, and then schedule an internal audit of each section on a monthly or quarterly cadence. Be sure that your schedule enables you to cover the entire code over the course of the year. By auditing smaller sections of the code on a more frequent basis, internal teams can take more time to assess programs, analyze records, and review facility conditions as necessary. It is important for internal auditors to be properly trained on what to look for, how to record results, and how to follow up on possible corrective actions needed. As a best practice, have a third party complete an internal audit of your system prior to your recertification audit. External resources will provide an objective view and assure all programs are at their best.
Detailed Plant Inspection Internal Audits
In addition to the GFSI system audits, detailed plant inspection audits should be conducted based on risk. This typically includes monthly inspections of processing audits. These inspections include assessments of Good Manufacturing Practices, product handling, and facility condition. Detailed plant inspections and internal audits help promote continual compliance with GFSI standards.
Verification/Validation of Prerequisite Programs
GFSI standards require all prerequisite programs, such as sanitation, maintenance, calibrations, pest control, and others, be verified and validated at least once a year. The verification process should include a review of the written food safety program, records and supporting evidence, and documented plant inspections. The validation process should include a review of test results, customer complaints, non-conforming products, and other relevant information to ensure the program is achieving and maintaining the intended control over identified hazards. Prudent companies set schedules to verify and validate a certain number of programs each quarter.