7 mins read

Preparing for Your Food Safety Audit

It is impossible to be too prepared for a food safety audit and every audit presents an opportunity for your facility to continually evolve to be better.

Audits are not an end in themselves, nor are they a time for pointing fingers and finding fault. Audits do not start because an auditor arrives to perform them. Rather, audits happen because the purpose is to determine if your system is working as it should. Audits identify gaps and shortcomings, after which the team has an opportunity to make any corrections necessary to align with the food safety program, so that the process is safe, effective, efficient and consistent throughout all locations.

In this blog, we will uncover:

    1. How You and Your Team can Best Approach Food Safety Audits
    2. How to Prepare for Your Next Food Safety Audit
    3. Checklist to a Successful Audit Day

How You and Your Team can Best Approach Food Safety Audits

When a strong food safety culture is embedded in an organisation, half the work of audit preparation is already done. A successful audit depends on the whole team being across the food safety program – from establishment and implementation  to procedures and record keeping. A team that is well organised will be properly equipped to provide necessary documentation and records on request. In addition, a team that is appropriately trained can provide clear and concise answers to questions, in a polite and informative way. By making sure everyone understands the value of food safety audits, a shared motivation will evolve, that drives a state of readiness across the whole team. A positive and open mindset towards audits will naturally evolve within a healthy food safety culture and should be encouraged.

How to Prepare for Your Next Food Safety Audit

When preparing for your next audit, it’s crucial to reflect on what’s already been done and eliminate any possibility of wheel reinvention. The hard work that has gone into maintaining the program and improving it  should not go to waste. Your last audit should be your starting point for your next one – providing you with all the building blocks you need.

  • Food safety plan reassessment is of course done annually, but once more in time for the audit (which is mandatory anyway), will get everyone up to speed on changes in processes, equipment, and products.
  • Similarly, a refresh of Environmental Monitoring (EMP) and Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) programs will ensure sanitation programs and relevant checklists are up to date.
  • Past non-conformances are a great tool to educate and motivate. Failures can create a mindset of complacency, but an honest and open attitude towards non-conformance can foster a spirit of continuous improvement. Encouragement to revisit what went wrong, how it was resolved and how it’s working now is key here.


Practice makes perfect as they say and reviewing existing plans and programs, running through them, and adjusting where required will ensure everyone is in a state of readiness once the audit date has arrived.

  • Internal audits are preparation for success. They ensure continuous improvement as well as verification that everything is working. They are the greatest tool available and a comprehensive overview of the entire food safety management system. They also offer an important advantage – being able to identify and resolve issues in advance prepares the team for what’s ahead in the audit and increases the chance of a successful audit outcome.
  • A review of processes for recalls, and food defence and fraud programs will refresh the team on things like recall plans, vulnerability assessments, and mitigation plans and prepare them for any questions the auditor may have around procedures, responsibilities, and actions.  
View our wide range of training courses to help you learn how to plan, implement, assess and improve your food safety management system.
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Checklist to a Succesful Audit Day

Once all of the reviewing, planning and adjusting has been done, there is only preparation for the event itself that’s left. Checking through the list below will ensure everything the auditor will expect is readily available and everyone involved in the audit is sufficiently equipped to play their part.

  • Familiarise yourself with the food safety standard requirements for certification as this may have been updated since your last audit.
  • Prepare site visits in advance where applicable.
  • Make sure all the necessary paperwork and documents are completed before the audit.
  • Ensure you are able to demonstrate the policies and procedures outlined in your plan.
  • Organise all the important documents so they are readily available and easy for the auditor to navigate when required.
  • Clear the schedules of all staff involved in the audit so they are available on demand at whatever point of the audit that’s necessary.
  • Be up-to-date on previous non-conformances and able to report on developments since the last audit.
  • Communicate positively with the team in the days leading up to the audit. Engage and motivate their participation and encourage them to be proud of the part they play in the food safety culture of the organisation.
Download our free guide to learn how to create a strong food safety culture.

Why Intertek SAI Global

We’re here to help build a world-class, globally competitive, and sustainable food industry today.

With over 25 years of experience and a global reputation built on first-class delivery and technical support. Intertek SAI Global has partnered with the food industry for decades, engaging with hundreds of food and beverage suppliers, manufacturers and contractors throughout their assessment and certification process – while making the process as seamless and simple as possible.

Adding value is at the core of our business and our processes. Let us show you how assessment and certification can add value to your business. Australia-wide, delivering over 60,000 audits each year, your local Intertek SAI Global team is equipped to support your unique requirements.

Expertise You Can Trust – At Intertek SAI Global, we are committed to supporting our customer. Adding value is at the core of our business and our processes. Let us show you how assessment and certification can add value to your business.

Transparent and Honest – We make sure to approach everything with transparency and integrity. We will explain your audit durations and break down the costs associated. We ensure you understand your quote and guarantee no hidden costs or chargeable expenses until the audit is completed.

Customer Service for Added Support – Our customers are our number one focus. Your local Intertek SAI Global team has the experience to support you to ensure your Food Safety Management System meets your unique business requirements. Your Intertek SAI Global customer support system includes a dedicated business development manager, a scheduling team, an invoicing team and experienced local auditors.

With the ongoing challenges facing the food industry, it’s time to build a stronger and more effective food safety management system. Contact us to speak to a food safety expert and see how we can help you and your business achieve food safety excellence.

Get the Latest Food Safety Management Systems Information

This blog forms part of a series outlining what food safety management systems are, how to implement and measure it, enhancing your programs with training, audit and certification, and continuously improving your food safety culture.

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