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Failed the Audit :*(


Best Answer Urban Explorer, 30 August 2013 - 01:18 AM

7 months later... and WE PASSED!!

 

Or should I say "I passed".  With still very little commitment from managers, we had enough momentum to pull us through to an 87.

 

We did switch auditing companies and the new auditor was very friendly and knew what he was doing without being condescending about it. Most of the minors were small details in policies that quite frankly should have been picked up by the other 3 auditors before him.  But I digress.  Easy fixes.

 

The most important thing that came out of the audit was him telling me that I am filling out too many papers that I should be verifying also.  I told him it's kind of tough to do HACCP recording and testing when you lose two techs and your boss is on vacation.  Who else can verify me?! So now I get to pass off my drudgery work on our new techs and work on expanding the program.  Maybe we can shoot for level 3 next year..

 

God bless anyone who gets those previous auditors I had, the ones I forever tarnished their records!

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#26 Urban Explorer

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 11:29 PM

I already found little dot stickers in the supply closet and I'm going to use them, they're perfect. We have 3 rather large windows in the lab, both sides would need to be done. And 3 door windows, plus 12 small windows in the dock doors. Why they didn't think of this before, I'll never know. I really hope they just have a company come in and do it!


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#27 bacon

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 04:43 PM

We just passed our 2nd audit with 6 minors (one may pop up to a major if you are following the new Allergen Validation guidance thread that SQFI popped out of the blue )

I am not celebrating as I think it was a sloppy audit (more a document audit) that gives one a false sense of security.

I understand that having a very complex processing facility with many different categories and products is allot to get through but our auditor finished up a 3 day audit in 2. I did present the code in a very logical and easy way with very little scrambling for documents (this sped up the audit), but one would think the auditor would spend more time on the floor... however, floor observation times are not specified by SQF (vs. BRC have very specific instructions on how time the auditor must spend out on the floor observing operations).

What frustrates me is the lack of consistency between 3rd party auditors, thus one gets inconsistent guidance in final audit reports. One would think passing the audit, one's food safety systems are sound and tried true, however, because of the inconsistency, one realy does not know (i.e. our auditor did not comment or even verify if we did our traceability test even though a traceability exercise is not the same as a mock recall) how the next auditor will interpret clause requirements.

Anyhooo, back yo the original subject: even passing an audit is not so much fun. If they are legitimate NC's, I prefer to get them and even fail an audit as those NC's get the attention of Senior Management. Ultimately, that is where food safety should go.

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#28 Urban Explorer

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

Congrats Baron! We are still contesting the one point which would put us at barely complies. Which is still not acceptable in my eyes.

I too am frustrated with the lack of consistency between auditors. They were even arguing with each other over how to record internal audits. Aren't they trained in this stuff? They made comments about our metal detecting program and I told them flat out "Well YOUR company has found it acceptable for the past several years". They made snide comments about the USDA. I just was not impressed. They are supposed to be impartial.


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#29 Urban Explorer

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

Interesting news.

My boss spoke with one of the auditors. Apparently the Certification Body (CB) was not happy that the AUDITORS took a point about daily waste management inspections away from us! We have several different forms which mention trash removal, inspection, etc, but not one dedicated form. Both my boss and I tried to explain this during the audit, but they didn't listen.

It looks very likely that we will get the point and pass the audit now.


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#30 john123

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:51 PM

Wait... They basically expected you to have a form to document each time you take out a bag of trash? :doh: I'm glad to hear you're getting that point back!


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#31 Urban Explorer

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:10 PM

Wait... They basically expected you to have a form to document each time you take out a bag of trash? :doh: I'm glad to hear you're getting that point back!


Pretty much. I intend to make it a more detailed section of our operational checklist and daily sanitation sheets for the future, but to say we didn't do it at all was harsh.
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#32 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 05:28 PM

Interesting news.

My boss spoke with one of the auditors. Apparently the Certification Body (CB) was not happy that the AUDITORS took a point about daily waste management inspections away from us! We have several different forms which mention trash removal, inspection, etc, but not one dedicated form. Both my boss and I tried to explain this during the audit, but they didn't listen.

It looks very likely that we will get the point and pass the audit now.


Congratulations. Missing the certification by one point would certainly not be pleasing.
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#33 FLXY

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:15 PM

Dear Destinee,

I'm sorry to hear what happened to you, I've been working for a small company last year which I have to do basically everything, we did get the certification eventually, but the process and situation was no better than yours at first. You just have to work around with this whole thing.

Here is something I want to share: When my previous company hired me, they were on a final deadline to get this thing done (They've been told to get this thing done three years ago btw), but the management didn't realize how serious this whole thing was and they thought this was just another pay and go type of certification. I've tried to talk to them but didn't work that well, meanwhile, they want to get us certified asap and keep pushing me.
So, I've wrote the manual, then I've successfully persuade them to hire a consultant to review our program. Gladly, that consultant was very picky and point out tons of stuff to correct, but they thought that consultant was just crazy. so, I've done what I could and we did a pre-audit after that, that auditor points out those stuff again which made the management realize this whole thing is not that simple, after that, they've tried to do what they could to get certified.

So, maybe this is not a bad thing cuz this will let management understand the importance of support food safety in order to do business. Just like this new company I'm working with, one of the facility is SQF certified and I think we got a 95 out of 100 which is pretty good, but I've heard that facility failed during the first audit and that's when the management start to pay attention.

In all, cheer up and u will make it.

:oops:


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#34 FLXY

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:17 PM

lol just find out you guys passed the audit, that's awesome XD cheers!

Dear Destinee,

I'm sorry to hear what happened to you, I've been working for a small company last year which I have to do basically everything, we did get the certification eventually, but the process and situation was no better than yours at first. You just have to work around with this whole thing.

Here is something I want to share: When my previous company hired me, they were on a final deadline to get this thing done (They've been told to get this thing done three years ago btw), but the management didn't realize how serious this whole thing was and they thought this was just another pay and go type of certification. I've tried to talk to them but didn't work that well, meanwhile, they want to get us certified asap and keep pushing me.
So, I've wrote the manual, then I've successfully persuade them to hire a consultant to review our program. Gladly, that consultant was very picky and point out tons of stuff to correct, but they thought that consultant was just crazy. so, I've done what I could and we did a pre-audit after that, that auditor points out those stuff again which made the management realize this whole thing is not that simple, after that, they've tried to do what they could to get certified.

So, maybe this is not a bad thing cuz this will let management understand the importance of support food safety in order to do business. Just like this new company I'm working with, one of the facility is SQF certified and I think we got a 95 out of 100 which is pretty good, but I've heard that facility failed during the first audit and that's when the management start to pay attention.

In all, cheer up and u will make it.

:oops:


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#35 Urban Explorer

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:23 PM

Thank you for the kind replies since my last update.

After a back and forth with the CB, they decided to side with the auditors and did NOT award us the point. Some of the comments coming from the auditors through SQF reliance are downright rude. I think I mentioned this before, but the odds are that these same two people will be back for the retry audit. I am not happy about this as I feel they are biased, and as mentioned, rude. A friend who commented in this thread suggested writing a letter to the auditing company, requesting different auditors due to the preconceived notion of failure upon their return. My boss agreed and I plan to work on this asap.

It's not as though I disagree with their findings, but again, these rude comments and outright lies that they are putting forth through Reliance to make themselves look better, I don't appreciate it nor do I find it professional. Or we could go with another auditing company, what have we got to lose now.


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#36 Marshenko

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 03:30 PM

I believe you can still escalate any disputes arising from the audit past the CB and directly to SQFI ... might want to look into that before making your next decision(s)

Part A, Section 5.9 (pages 33-34)

5.9 Complaints, Appeals and Disputes
The certification body shall document its procedure for handling and resolving appeals, complaints and disputes
made by a supplier, or made by another party about a supplier.

When a supplier has cause to register a complaint about a certification body’s activities, or appeals or disputes a
decision made by a certification body, including the activities and decisions of its auditors, the certification body
shall investigate and resolve these matters without delay and keep a record of all complaints, appeals and disputes
and their resolution.

When a certification body receives a complaint about a supplier from other parties, the certification body is
required to investigate and resolve the matter without delay and keep a record of all complaints, appeals and
disputes and their resolution.

Appeals regarding decisions on the suspension and/or withdrawal of the SQF certification by a certification body
shall not delay the decision to suspend or withdraw the certification.

When upon investigation of a complaint it is determined that there has been a substantiated breakdown of a
supplier’s SQF System or any other condition not in accordance with the SQF Code and/or other supporting
documents, the certification body shall suspend certification as outlined in section 4.4.

Where a complaint is registered about the conduct or behavior of an auditor or certification body personnel, the
certification body shall investigate and resolve the complaint without delay and keep a record of all complaints and
their resolution.

Records of complaints and investigations shall be available to the SQFI upon request. Where a complaint, appeal
or dispute cannot be satisfactorily resolved between the supplier and the certification body, the matter shall be
referred to the SQFI complaints and appeals procedure.


Edited by Marshenko, 18 February 2013 - 03:30 PM.

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#37 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 06:44 PM

I agree you should dispute it with SQF.


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#38 Kellio

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 06:16 PM

We just failed our initial facility audit by one point. I am very upset even though my boss has reassured me that things were beyond my control.

Everyone on this forum that has posted guidance and answered questions has been a huge help, and I wanted to thank those that contribute regularly like Charles and Simon. It would have been an even more miserable time without knowing the things I know now.

Our biggest problem is lack of support. This program is too big for one or two people to manage. We have virtually no support from other departments and this is why we failed. Although we are a small company, there are not enough resources to keep on top of SQF. I also am responsible for many other things that I cannot neglect or put aside. This has been an extremely frustrating two days and I only hope that this will shock the other managers into action to get our act together.

The disappointing fact is, many of the hits were things that I've asked time and time again for them to fix.

When I go back in Monday, I have a four foot stack of papers to go through. I think I'm going to cry, seriously. Has anyone else taken it this hard?!



Dear Destiny,


I stumble into your post and all I can tell you is to do not disappear. I had a COO of the company last year that practically "bite my head off" because he did not want to sign company policy statements and validate manuals because it was too many signatures. I had to respectfully stand up to him and even left the office to cool down for the day. Later, he personally apologized.This year he was promoted to CEO and he made a point to come after his business meetings and on his way to the airport and check with me if I needed his signatures to approve The Company statements and OrgCharts needed to validate Management Responsibility.

Remember this; it is not your job to make Company Policy. Senior Management and Management at all levels must create and have ownership of the Policies and Procedures of the Company. Your job is to make sure compliance is up to standard according to their procedures.
In this week’s Audit, the SQF Auditor validated my position once again by telling the QA Supervisor and the Plant Manager that it is the Department Managers responsibility to execute and verify their procedures so I can validate and assist them in compliance. This came about of some minors we had that I honestly think they could have been avoided if Senior Management and some Department Managers responded or assisted me after 1000 of requests through emails and calls. You are going to find out that unfortunately, QA Department and Human Resources will show more resistance than any other department (at least in my case it is at the moment).

I have learned throughout my career that in the US, there is a culture in some companies where Senior Management and Management at all levels are reluctant to be hold accountable for their responsibilities towards food safety and Food Industry Practices; but, guess what? In the event of a recall or a government inspection because of neglects or negligence, who is going to explain all these? or who may go to jail for their actions? The Leaders of the Company.

In order to change the Company’s culture, Leadership must embrace change first not YOU. All you can do is to show the way to get there.

Do not take it too hard! Learn to retreat and fight another day!

“Attitude reflects leadership”- this is one of the hardest statement you can tell somebody.

Edited by Kellio, 22 February 2013 - 06:36 PM.

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#39 Oldairyman

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 01:25 AM

Each GFSI system is different, They each have stong and weak points. Your struggle may be with the SQF system which says "Practiontioner will be responsible for" ..... and some VPs look at it as ,... it's your problem , your in charge.
As a practitioner part of what you need to do,.... is placing responsibility for documenting and validation on the dept that needs to get their act together. YOU HAVE TO AUDIT THEM, and give them corrective actions, with a deadline . When they biff the deadline a copy goes to the VP or whoever has the big hat. I have worked with initiating BRC, and SQF. Both very good programs. The SQF system delineates the practitioner as the administrator of the program, it can be daunting, use your resourses. Your team needs to be THE SOLUTION.


Edited by Oldairyman, 23 February 2013 - 01:26 AM.

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#40 CiliaB

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 08:06 PM

the system is obviously just implemented isn't it?
You need to do the corrective actions and you see light at the end of the tunnel quick. After a few audits you will have no non conformances. The more the system is audited the better it will be

you will be fine!


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#41 Carol88

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 05:50 AM

Thank you all. Without divulging too much info, I will give a rundown of what happened.

My company produces all RTE foods, some acidified foods, etc. Our facility is only 2 years old, but it was hurriedly designed and there are some flaws such as non-coated glass that were not taken into account upon construction. The glass was a major hit. A new machine was designed in Europe and shipped here with very little testing. It is a one of a kind thing and was in my opinion, poorly constructed. This was also a major hit because the official sanitation manual for this does not exist.

Minors were simply housekeeping items. Open boxes, primary containers for secondary use, MSDS book not updated, etc. Noted was the training register, not the training program itself, though I did mention my frustration at this on another thread. A few other maintenance issues, including the drain. But they all added up to a total fail. We had a desk audit and passed with flying colors (which is why the training register bothered me now because it should have been caught then) and this was the second phase for certification audit.

As I mentioned, we are a small company. A small company with big dreams and a mom-and-pop mentality. This needs to change. We are so short staffed that it's almost laughable how many hats some people wear. As an example, I do everything from managing the SQF/HACCP program, micro testing, exporting, government regulation and designing box labels, in addition to my regular role of food safety. My boss is a VP, reporting only to the president of the company. My boss is well aware of these problems and he has spent so much of his time trying to fix it, with little support. So basically it is he and me against the world. In my opinion, this is why we failed. None of the other managers were even present in the opening and closing meetings, which speaks volumes.

There is a lack of focus on the things that matter. We can't possibly consider being globally certified and continue to keep up bad habits. When I started 1.5 years ago, there were no official programs, poor record keeping and total disorganization. We have come a long way but we are still not there.

Putting this into financial terms will be the most effective. Not only the 60 hours a week I've been putting in for the last 3 months, but the audit cost and potential loss of business. You can't sell what doesn't exist.

Charles, thank you for the idea of the postings in the room at the stations. I know for a fact that many of the employees do know what they are doing and why they are doing it but with such a high turnover rate and use of temporary employees, it is an almost impossible hurdle to overcome.


Hi Destinee, I to come from a small company and I also have many hats to wear and it is very hard to keep on track with SQF. The bosses don't realize it is an ongoing position and the hard work and hours after work that go into it. I came in 18 months ago and there wasn't any policies in place without any other paperwork. Many hours have passed since then and I feel for the first time I am making headway so hang in there. If you are dedicated and love your job you will get there. I think I live breathe and sleep that quality manual. I have our audit in 3 weeks so I'm starting to hypoventilate especially since I come from a Lab background not the quality side of the workplace. Chin up you can do it.
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#42 Urban Explorer

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:18 AM   Best Answer

7 months later... and WE PASSED!!

 

Or should I say "I passed".  With still very little commitment from managers, we had enough momentum to pull us through to an 87.

 

We did switch auditing companies and the new auditor was very friendly and knew what he was doing without being condescending about it. Most of the minors were small details in policies that quite frankly should have been picked up by the other 3 auditors before him.  But I digress.  Easy fixes.

 

The most important thing that came out of the audit was him telling me that I am filling out too many papers that I should be verifying also.  I told him it's kind of tough to do HACCP recording and testing when you lose two techs and your boss is on vacation.  Who else can verify me?! So now I get to pass off my drudgery work on our new techs and work on expanding the program.  Maybe we can shoot for level 3 next year..

 

God bless anyone who gets those previous auditors I had, the ones I forever tarnished their records!


Edited by Destinee, 30 August 2013 - 08:50 PM.

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#43 Simon

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:05 AM

Well done Destinee, I'm very pleased for you. You've made a big step forward. Now you have that peg in the ground you can steadily work on gaining commitment and make plans for achieving the next level. Many small steps lead to big improvement, it just takes time and constancy of purpose.

Congratulations!

Regards,
Simon


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#44 elaineli09

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 07:40 PM

Hi Destinee,

I am working for a family owned food company as well. Well, the owner has big dreams to get SQF certificed and I am assigned to be SQF practitioner. Would you mind sharing the CB and the auditor name who passes yours?

 

Thanks much.

Elaine


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#45 Snookie

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 07:56 PM

It is possible your email address is going to get removed as I don't think they usually allow them on an open post.  It most likely has not been caught yet due to it being Christmas Eve.  I sent a PM to Destinee to ask the same question so I don't select these auditors as well.  Your situation may be further complicated as don't think you can send PM's until you've made at least 10 posts.  You may need to make a bunch of posts to get into the messaging system.  But hopefully Simon will join in shortly with a solution. 

 

P.S.  :welcome:  to the forum. 


Edited by Snookie, 24 December 2014 - 07:58 PM.

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#46 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 29 December 2014 - 12:56 PM

7 months later... and WE PASSED!!

 

Or should I say "I passed".  With still very little commitment from managers, we had enough momentum to pull us through to an 87.

 

We did switch auditing companies and the new auditor was very friendly and knew what he was doing without being condescending about it. Most of the minors were small details in policies that quite frankly should have been picked up by the other 3 auditors before him.  But I digress.  Easy fixes.

 

The most important thing that came out of the audit was him telling me that I am filling out too many papers that I should be verifying also.  I told him it's kind of tough to do HACCP recording and testing when you lose two techs and your boss is on vacation.  Who else can verify me?! So now I get to pass off my drudgery work on our new techs and work on expanding the program.  Maybe we can shoot for level 3 next year..

 

God bless anyone who gets those previous auditors I had, the ones I forever tarnished their records!

 

Congratulations on passing!  Take the next year to improve where you can and try to make your system as robust as possible.


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