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QM-OS

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:29 PM

One of our suppliers have changed certification body (CB) every year, for the past three years. Since 2016 they've used four different CB.

It's a company based in a non-english speaking country and it's for BRC Food Safety certification.

 

I've asked the supplier why and while I'm waiting for their reply I'm trying to think of the reason for this. 

Is this something I would have done? No, unless a very special circumstance occur, but what are the chances of that happening every year? Especially for four years?

 

For example; our previous CB notfied us at last minute that they wouldn't send an auditor who spoke our language (only spoke English) so we chose to change CB for that reason.

  • Maybe they didn't agree with the auditor, but most CB have more than one auditor so they could send someone else next time.
  • The price could also be a reason, but don't you have agreements with CB? 
  • The present and previous CB are not from the same country as this company. When searching the BRC directory there are approved CB in the same country, why not use one of them? Why go abroad and have to do the audit in a foreign language? This should also have affect on the price, surely?

Is this occuring a lot around the globe? Could you please share your experiences about this?

 

 

(They've also changed CB for organic certification but we know the surcomstances for that. It's not the same CB that does both certification audits, never been.)



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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:50 PM

We have over 100 SQF development clients and not one has ever changed their CB every year - changed CB's for other causes, yes - but not every year.  


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pHruit

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 12:54 PM

Do they have an unusual scope, and/or are they based somewhere remote?
We've occasionally had challenges with our CB finding auditors with the right BRC categories and we're not doing anything wacky or unusual (had an auditor go ill at short notice once and due to a convoluted set of circumstances we ended up with different parts of the audit done by three different auditors...), so I could see this being problematic if an unusual mix of processes/categories are involved.

If the current CB doesn't have anyone in-house and can't get hold of a contractor to cover then there may not be much choice but to move. Nonetheless I agree it seems pretty odd to go through this change quite so frequently.
Please update the thread once you find out what the reasoning is!



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QAGB

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 01:45 PM

I find this to be unusual unless like pHruit mentioned, this company has an unusual scope or is remote. Under BRC, we were audited under multiple categories, and was very difficult to find auditors certified in all of those categories. We were usually limited to 3-4 possible auditors (sometimes less), but never had to switch CBs every year. Our only switch was due to an unfortunate situation while trying to appeal a finding. From that point on, we were able to stay with the same CB for several years.



QM-OS

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 02:45 PM

They only have two of the categories under BRC Food, nothing unusal with their products/process and they're in a country with several similar producers and not in a remote area.

It's strange for me. Still waiting for a reply.



QAGB

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 04:19 PM

They only have two of the categories under BRC Food, nothing unusal with their products/process and they're in a country with several similar producers and not in a remote area.

It's strange for me. Still waiting for a reply.

  

 

That is really weird. I'd love to know the answer to this too.



The Food Scientist

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 04:52 PM

It's because (probably) they want a specific auditor, so they keep changing CBs for that auditor. (I have seen this personally happen)


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


Jeffrey Ort

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 06:00 PM

Very strange, I would only look to make a change if there was a serious incident, like the CB certification gets put on suspension, blatant overcharges or other critical issues, but not likely 4 years in a row.

Being in seafood, there is a small, pardon the pun, pool of auditors that are certified in our category, and they all indicate that they aduit for various CB's



pHruit

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Posted 15 November 2019 - 06:16 PM

It's because (probably) they want a specific auditor, so they keep changing CBs for that auditor. (I have seen this personally happen)

This sounds plausible to an extent, but BRC limits the number of consecutive audits that an auditor can conduct at a site - IIRC it's a maximum of three.



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Posted 17 November 2019 - 04:44 AM

Hi QM,

Consider the size of the company and length of time they’ve been operating. They may be alternating CBs due to high growth mode, shareholder requirements, etc.



QM-OS

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:09 AM

I've received an answer. 

 

They've developed a company policy to change auditor/CB every year in order for the company to be evaluated by different persons each time, or as they say; "different points of view".

They mean it gives them an extra challenge but also a good learning process.

This instead of the same auditor coming to their company for three years in a row, which could make them (the company) "comfortable"/not on their toes.

 

 

I find this really strange. I understand the challenge and learning process, but wouldn't it be better to do this during internal audits instead and not risk the certification?

IMO, it's during internal audits you have the learning/challenge process. During the BRC audit it's the finale, so to speak, you don't want to risk that or mess that up.



pHruit

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:17 AM

Well that's a slightly surprising answer, but I think it's generally positive.

You're right that the certification audit is the "finale", as it were, but it certainly shows a lot of confidence in their site and systems that they're willing to put that on the line to invite scrutiny from auditors with different viewpoints and experience.



zanorias

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:32 AM

That is strange in the sense of being uncommon (as far as I've seen), though I agree with pHruit; if the company is willing to 'risk' the certification, then perhaps it's because they actually have nothing to risk and are confident in that due to everything being done properly. If their certification history is good perhaps this strategy is working for them.

 

It also sounds to me a potential response that could be thought up and given to answer the question to satisfy the customer and avoid further digging ... but perhaps I am too cynical  :rolleyes:



QAGB

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:52 PM

Thank you for getting back to us with the answer!

 

I can see two sides of this coin. Side 1: Ok - so the company likes a challenge and wants to stay on their toes by getting a new auditor every year. I don't really know why anyone would want to do that, but kudos to them if it makes their system better. I would agree that the 3rd party audit is the finale, so why risk it? 

 

Side 2: I see this as potentially being they know by changing auditors every year, they won't likely have a consecutive audit by the same auditor (and the auditor won't be too familiar with the systems). During year #1, an auditor isn't going to "dig" too far into the programs, unless there's a fairly large issue in some part of the standard. Therefore, they are going to come in, try to understand the process, and audit accordingly. Year #2, the same auditor will know your process fairly well, and isn't going to have to spend time adjusting to the "learning curve". They are going to know the process, which gives them more time to dig deeper.



The Food Scientist

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 02:55 PM

This sounds plausible to an extent, but BRC limits the number of consecutive audits that an auditor can conduct at a site - IIRC it's a maximum of three.

 

Yes SQF limits 3 consecutive. And I have seen a company change the CB because they were trying to get the same auditor (basically following him where he goes to what CB). 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


QM-OS

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:31 PM

 

It also sounds to me a potential response that could be thought up and given to answer the question to satisfy the customer and avoid further digging ... but perhaps I am too cynical  :rolleyes:

 

I stand with you on the cynical side. An unfortunate result after being in this business and seeing the good and especially the bad occur (more than once)...  :rolleyes:



QM-OS

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:33 PM

Thank you for getting back to us with the answer!

 

I can see two sides of this coin. Side 1: Ok - so the company likes a challenge and wants to stay on their toes by getting a new auditor every year. I don't really know why anyone would want to do that, but kudos to them if it makes their system better. I would agree that the 3rd party audit is the finale, so why risk it? 

 

Side 2: I see this as potentially being they know by changing auditors every year, they won't likely have a consecutive audit by the same auditor (and the auditor won't be too familiar with the systems). During year #1, an auditor isn't going to "dig" too far into the programs, unless there's a fairly large issue in some part of the standard. Therefore, they are going to come in, try to understand the process, and audit accordingly. Year #2, the same auditor will know your process fairly well, and isn't going to have to spend time adjusting to the "learning curve". They are going to know the process, which gives them more time to dig deeper.

 

 

Side 2 is what I believe to be closer to the "real" reason here... But kudos to them  :rolleyes: (I'm just a little bit too cynical...)



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Posted 18 November 2019 - 03:34 PM

Cynic here too, can't get a hard auditor three years in a row if you switch every year, and the auditor is expecting they will come again the following year, creating an easier audit environment.  



Fred73

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 07:53 PM

It's because (probably) they want a specific auditor, so they keep changing CBs for that auditor. (I have seen this personally happen)

This was one of the most commented reasons during the recent SQF conference in Tx. Apparently it is getting as an "usual" practice by sites to "follow" the auditor.


Edited by Fred73, 18 November 2019 - 07:54 PM.


QAGB

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 07:58 PM

This was one of the most commented reasons during the recent SQF conference in Tx. Apparently it is getting as an "usual" practice by sites to "follow" the auditor.

 

I can understand wanting to follow a good auditor, but how many times is the auditor changing CBs? Considering the OP mentions the company is changing CBs every year, that would be a little scary to think the auditor is switching CBs every year. I wouldn't have thought that to be a common practice.



The Food Scientist

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:02 PM

I can understand wanting to follow a good auditor, but how many times is the auditor changing CBs? Considering the OP mentions the company is changing CBs every year, that would be a little scary to think the auditor is switching CBs every year. I wouldn't have thought that to be a common practice.

 

Exactly, the CB informs the company that this auditor no longer works there and that they will assign a new auditor, so company seeks another CB that this auditor works for :) Witnessed that! 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:07 PM

Exactly, the CB informs the company that this auditor no longer works there and that they will assign a new auditor, so company seeks another CB that this auditor works for :) Witnessed that! 

 

 

Wowzers. That is truly astonishing.



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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:35 AM

Annual rotation of external audit firms is not a bizarre thing in financial auditing. They probably wish to consolidate the audit tasks. 



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Posted 19 November 2019 - 07:14 AM

Good input from you all.

However my (cynical) gut feeling is that they try to avoid an indepth audit.

Since it's a new auditor every time who don't have full knowledge about the company or time to really get in to the details.

(They've changed CB from British, Dutch to Polish (current) and I doubt an auditor in Europe jumps around like that.)



pHruit

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 09:30 AM

Not wishing to contradict the outpouring of cynicism, which is something I fully endorse after many years in QA ( ;) ), but has no-one else ever experienced the opposite effect from having repeat audits with the same auditor?
If the first audit goes well, you develop a rapport with the auditor, and pass with a very good result, have you never found that when they come back the next year they're somewhat more relaxed, and may be more likely to accept things with a lesser degree of probing?






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