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Organic Audit - Food Storage and Distribution

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 02:00 PM

Hi all, hope you're all safe and well. We have an upcoming organic audit at our warehouse to hopefully become certified. However, as we are only a distributor and not a manufacturer, we can omit some of the requirements. My question is, what do we need to have in-place before the audit?

  • We have already labelled the racking where the organic produce will be stored. It is segregated and not stored below anything non-organic.
  • We have produced a Goods In form that includes item number, batch, product, expiry, gross, tare, net, number of packs, total quantity, number of pallets, Organic (Y/N).
  • We are going to use our 'Release Note' as the Goods Out evidence as it includes all relevant information.
  • We are currently writing a procedure that will outline this process.


Description of Your Activities (5.4.1)

They state that we should have documentation that describes what we do. I thought about updating our ISO 9001 Introduction to include organic, premises and activities. Also, a procedure on transport of goods.


Cleaning Measure (5.12.1)

We need to demonstrate that we have suitable cleaning measures in-place, and a way of monitoring this. We do not open any of our products and the only equipment I can think of is the forklift and the racking itself. Do we actually need a procedure to clean the forks and the racking?


Here is the standard for reference  :smile:


We are very new to this so any guidance would be massively appreciated!


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Posted 13 July 2021 - 03:50 PM

Hi there - You stated you have organic items stored segregated.  In my experience, over-labelling the items never hurts.  We use neon green signs printed off the computer in large font for all organic ingredients, make sure to label partials if you have them, they tend to lose their stickers.  . Laminating makes them reusable. Have evidence that anyone who handles organic items is trained in how to receive, label, put away, and monitor your organic section, especially items you may have that you also carry in non organic form that may get confused.  The training could use a simple PowerPoint  (easy to create your own to get your point across) and a sign off sheet for all trainees.  


Auditors like segregation a lot, we've included sturdy plastic boards that look like plastic slip sheets to separate racks containing organic ingredients from adjacent non organic ingredients.  


We've never been asked to have a procedure for cleaning racks and fork lifts specifically for organic, but they are on our master sanitation schedule to maintain in a clean state on a scheduled basis.  The warehouse cleaning should also include regular sweeping, inspection for damaged goods, examination for pest evidence.   


Any procedure you put in place needs evidence of current training, and auditors also like to see quizzes on the training material to show that the employees are retaining knowledge. 


I hope this helps!

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 08:29 AM

I've never done "just" the storage elements of organic, but having been certified by the Soil Association at various business for a number of years that suddenly makes me feel moderately old, I've spent a fair amount of time walking around warehouse areas with their auditors.


For 5.4.1 I'd be inclined to write a procedure that defines what you're doing specifically with organic products. I won't need to be very long, as I suspect that >80% of mine is about the controls in the production area, but something that clearly defines what you do at goods receipt, intake, storage, dispatch etc should tick all the boxes for them, and it gives you something unequivocal against which you can train the relevant staff.


5.12.1 is understandably heavily focussed on production activities, as that is by far the bigger potential risk point. I'd expect the interest here to be on general warehouse cleanliness, so a basic procedure that says e.g. you sweep the warehouse daily (or whatever method/frequency is appropriate to you), clean any spills/damages immediately using equipment x and chemical y etc, probably just accompanied by visual verification that they've been completed to a suitable standard. Ideally you'd pair this with e.g. a weekly checklist to record each item being completed and verified. You could make a note in your procedure that you're not handling any open organic product, just to emphasise that there is no risk of organic product coming into contact with a cleaning chemical ;)

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Organic, audit, food supplements, soil association, storage & distribution, warehouse, nutraceuticals

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