By Barbara Levin and Dan Bernkopf
There are several reasons why “audit” is one of the most dreaded words in the food and beverage industry. If we look at all of the various types of audits – USDA, FDA, GFSI and customer audits – it’s likely that many medium-to-large size suppliers and manufacturers experience one or more audits per month, and this can get very demanding. Preparing for audits – today, a mostly manual process – can bring a food safety and quality assurance (FSQA) operation “to its knees” – disrupting and perhaps even compromising critical daily FSQA activities. And, of course, the most important and obvious priority is just passing the audit, hopefully with “flying colors.”
These factors, combined with the trend toward unannounced audits and end-retail/services customers’ increasing demand for supply chain transparency, make a solid business case for emerging FSQA software technologies that can help you be audit-ready “on demand.” New technologies help enforce food safety and quality at all points in a supply chain, providing critical audit-readiness features such as the ability to:
• Electronically collect and time/date stamp – in realtime – food safety and quality information from raw material and ingredient suppliers, third party labs, in-process control verifications, and finished product test results including output data from analytical testing equipment.
• Store and manage HACCP and all prerequisite programs like Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPS) in a single common electronic document repository. These can then be easily reviewed and revised under administrative control – and referenced by revision dates.