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Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:53 PM

I am just beginning the SQF audit process for my company, a walnut processor, and just started creating the manual and putting it together piece by piece. When I got to the internal audit part of the code I begin to overload myself and not sure where to start.

If anyone has an example of what they do for an interal audit procedure that would be GREATLY appreciated.

Another issue I ran into when going over the internal audit, is they want the internal auditor to be independent of the area being audited. Well being from a very small family owned company that is simple not possible as I am the Practitioner and also the internal auditor.

Again, any help would be great appreciated!



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Posted 12 September 2012 - 02:28 PM

Wow, you've got a heck of a ride ahead of you. It's dificult to know where to begin, but 1st, re. you being the SQF Practitioner and the internal auditor would in my experience a very tricky thing to successfully pull off. This is due to the fact that as Practitioner you essentially "own" the food safety manageagement team, and it's really a conflict of interest to audit yourself. How many people work in your "very small family owned company?" If the company is a handful of individuals is it really worth getting GFSI certified? I ask that because a big part of the system elements in Module 2 deals with management committment, and implies that the owners and senior management of a company have the recources and will to back their food safety management system. However the Guidance for Element (Internal Audits) does make provisions for small companies by including the following:

"To ensure the objectiveness of the internal audit the facility should "where possible" use personnel who are separate from the area being audited to conduct internal audits. he inclusion of the words "where possible" illustrates that in the case of of some very small Suppliers this is not possible. In such cases the facility should be required to demonstrate that the alternative internal audit requirement arrangement meets the objective of this requirement and is communicated to all affected parties."

So if you can demonstrate to your SQF auditor that you have an "effective" system I suppose that, depending on your auditor, you may get away with a minimalist approach. (There's a tremendous amount of subjectivity in many parts of a SQF audit.)

You have to ask yourself what your actual goal of doining internal audits really is? It's not a rote exercise. The goal should be to methodically review your SQF/food safety management system to uncover gaps that basically involve determining whether you have effective policy/procedures/responsibility for each element and pre-requisite program of your system and ensuring that any gaps are effectively closed through the use of a solid corrective action system. The ultimate goal of this process is continuous improvement of your company, as well as ensuring compliance with the SQF code.

With regards to the actual process, as Practitioner you would be responsible for the following:

1) Create policies, procedures and procedures for your internal auditing process.

2) Get as many people possible properly trained in internal auditing. This can be done through web training, or if you have documented internal auditor training (and train the trainer training would also be a plus) you could train the auditors yourself. Training would include instructing the trainees on your audit process and how to actually perform the audits (interviews, observations, etc.). If you're going to attempt to be the Practitioner as well as the auditor I'd highly recommend that you get internal auditor training for yourself and make sure that it's documented.

3) Create an internal audit schedule. Auditing of each section of your SQF/FSMS system is usually done annually from my experience. Some sections may be audited semi-annually, but ultimately there's nothing in the SQF code that dictates frequency. But remember that you MUST have an internal audit schedule that includes the scope and frequency of the audits.

4) You'll also need to create audit criteria. I use a checklist system that's derived from the free SQF Code (Edition 7) Checklist. You can find this on the SQFI website (click on Documents tab at top of the home page.) Non-conformances and their severity can be noted on the audit checklists and be the determining factor as to whether a corrective action needs to be applied.

5) If there are any non-conformance observations that by definition result in corrective actions, enter them in your Corrective Action/Preventive Action register or system and ensure that an effective correction is applied to correct each issue.

And finally, like in all things SQF (and the rest of the GFSI schemes I'm sure) remember to document, document, and then document some more.

And as a side note be aware that as an alternative to doing this all by yourself there are a number of companies that will perform an Internal Audit for you (not cheaply from what I've seen.) Just make sure that you don't contract your SQF Certifying Body to do this if you decide to take this route.

Good Luck,

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Dr Vu

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 04:45 PM

Hi Samantha
first of all i would suggest you or any one in your business to get training in internal auditing-just a short course will do -at least that will help you ge t your feet on solid ground

Secondly there is a checklist on the SQf website under documents and it is still free- i suggest you grab it- it will guide you through the requirements
if you can not be independent of the function- then just forge ahead and do it or if you have $$ you can get a consultant to do internal audit.

A vu in time , saves nine

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