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#1 GMO

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 11:04 AM

There is a lot of experience here I thought it might be interesting to tap into.

I've worked in several companies, chilled, ambient, branded, own brand, BRC mainly but a dash of ISO.

Wherever I go, if I am asked to do an audit of an area where the remit is 'GMP' or 'GMP, prerequisites and HACCP', whatever the factory system is (checklist, cue questions etc.) I end up walking round auditing against my standard. My internal standard verges on the perfectionist and encompasses standards, legislation and retailers I have worked with and pet hates of auditors and retailers I have met. I never raise something I can't justify and I sometimes will only raise major issues if several are found so the auditee concentrates only on them. After talking to people on here and in my last role, I now think keeping audit notes is a good idea but I have to admit, I never did in the past.

How do you all audit?



#2 cazyncymru

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 03:56 PM

There is a lot of experience here I thought it might be interesting to tap into.

I've worked in several companies, chilled, ambient, branded, own brand, BRC mainly but a dash of ISO.

Wherever I go, if I am asked to do an audit of an area where the remit is 'GMP' or 'GMP, prerequisites and HACCP', whatever the factory system is (checklist, cue questions etc.) I end up walking round auditing against my standard. My internal standard verges on the perfectionist and encompasses standards, legislation and retailers I have worked with and pet hates of auditors and retailers I have met. I never raise something I can't justify and I sometimes will only raise major issues if several are found so the auditee concentrates only on them. After talking to people on here and in my last role, I now think keeping audit notes is a good idea but I have to admit, I never did in the past.

How do you all audit?



Pragmatically!

In my role as a Food Safety Auditor, and being a realist, you have to "accept" that although a company may have the backbones of a system, the reality of rolling it out is never easy.

Even an established company may have problems managing a certain area, and i find that during an audit i will make a number of "observations" which i will discuss informally with the auditee. if they can demonstrate to me at the time committment or that they have given thought to my observation, then i will jot it in my notes, but not document it as such in the audit report. i have a ring binder book which i write all my audit notes in, and i normally do these in welsh so that the auditee can't read them. i also use it as an aid memoire when the auditee tries to take me off track; i just jot down what i was discussing at the time, and i can usually pick up from there.
mind you if i think that there is something fundamentally wrong then i have no problems with raising it as a non-conformance

now in my role as a humble QA, i still use the note book approach to carrying out audits (hygiene inspections etc) and use the same criteria. But i always check back on my notes, and if, during a hygiene audit, i pick up the same issue more that twice, then i "officially" document it.

#3 Charles Chew

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 01:56 AM

Even if one is performing a 2nd Party Audit, you would need to know how extensive your audit plan should cover as Caz had clearly indicated the general difficulties in rolling out an accomplished FSMS. The issue of reference standard is another concern.

I also agree with GMO that it is necessary to have a respectable level of food audit exposures to understand the difference between objective and subjective evidences including the timely need to push for improvements. The food environmnent is too dynamic to use an audit checklist and I am in agreement with GMO's style of having the entire "self-styled / reference standard" at the back of his mind each time an audit is pursued.


Cheers,
Charles Chew
www.naturalmajor.com

#4 Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 07:32 AM

whatever the factory system is (checklist, cue questions etc.) I end up walking round auditing against my standard.


In my opinion it is a good thing, for an internal audit, to audit against your own (individual) standard. Internal auditors are mostly involved in decission making functions, both on quality and company. Auditing against your own knowledge, ideas and experience, can help the company to continue improvement. For an internal auditor it is easier to raise non conformities (you can caal them remarks, points for improvements, actions, minors, majors, what ever you like), cause each non conformity will help the company to improve itself.

Third party auditors are selected on knowledge and experience. The standards alone, do not contain enough information to conduct an indept food safety audit.

i have a ring binder book which i write all my audit notes in, and i normally do these in welsh so that the auditee can't read them.


Dear cazyncymru,

My way of working is totally opposite of yours.

I like opennes and clear communication with the auditees. I tell them what I write down and even offer them to read the notes (both digitally and manual). In the closing meeting I tell the auditee on wich subjects or areas, I like to spend more time, during the next visit.
Kind Regards,

Madam A. D-tor

#5 Charles.C

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 08:24 AM

Dear All,

Another interesting area. Thank you GMO. This is slightly off-topic but hopefully not entirely irrelevant.

Surely there are correlations between an auditor’s chosen “best practice” and his country of origin / product / auditing for what.?

I suggest this due to the fact that some countries / receivers are notorious for their fascination with every detail, eg the UK (thank you BRC and due diligence!), Scandinavia (don’t forget to count the windows and doors !) Japan (analyses of everything under the sun). Other countries tend to be more relaxed and focus more on issues like the primary HACCP SOPs, eg Australia. These are gross generalisations of course but the auditor tends to have to react accordingly IMO.
It will also clearly depend on what you are auditing. The detail in evaluating a process for an RTE food is simply not the same as for a raw semi-processed material except in the basic PRPs.
Thirdly, I hv acted as an independent surveyor for insurance companies and as a potential buyer of raw materials / finished goods. The expectations tend to be different IMO, rightly or wrongly, and the audit style adjusted. This is particularly a result of the likelihood that in the former case, one is typically regarded as the “enemy” while in the latter situation a long-term association is considered.

Rgds / Charles.C

added - just saw Madam A.D-tor post. My above thoughts are primarily to external audit of course. I also rather agree her last comments, the thought of a Cazx audit must be one of imminent doom :biggrin: .


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#6 Jean

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 12:02 PM

I conduct more of internal audits and use a checklist pertinent to that area and also ensure the audit criteria are covered during the audit. I know some of you wouldn’t like the idea of using a checklist but it’s more or less like an aide memoir.

Usually I observe the operation for some time and look around the entire place and talk casually to the staff first to let them relax and avoid writing too many details in front of them. I let them know if there is something wrong and at the same time inform the supervisor or In-charge about the findings noted. Once I have finished with my observations and interviews then I refer to the checklist and look for the points which I may have missed out. At the end I discuss with the supervisor or the in-charge and get to know the reasons for the findings and the proposed corrective action they will take which is recorded in my audit and most of the time I give advice for improvements. The person is made to sign in the checklist after discussing the issues and actions to be taken. The records audits are done at the end. A re-audit is done after 2-3 weeks though spot checks are done daily. Implementation & effectiveness of the corrective actions are monitored & any variations are again dealt and addressed with more emphasis.

There are instances when I do spot training and coaching during the audit and it depends on the severity of the finding. I have developed a scoring system for the internal audits and every month each area gets their % of compliance with respect to the set criteria.

I wouldn’t write down all minute findings which are due to with respect to the operational constraint like the floor very dirty during the busy time of the service etc. Instead I look for issues which can pose a threat or if there is a violation / deviation from the SOPs, standards or regulations. I focus a lot on the staff competency and awareness with respect to their role in food safety.



There are times when one has to be very strict when repeated findings or violations are noted in spite of several times of occurrences, training and advices given.



Regards,



J


Best regards,

J

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#7 cazyncymru

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 12:26 PM

Dear cazyncymru,

My way of working is totally opposite of yours.

I like opennes and clear communication with the auditees. I tell them what I write down and even offer them to read the notes (both digitally and manual). In the closing meeting I tell the auditee on wich subjects or areas, I like to spend more time, during the next visit.



To be honest i do my notes in Welsh, because thats what i'm most comfortable with.

But it does have an advantage in that i can use it to "verify" commitment / understanding of a problem, in that i can refer back and see that everyone is aware and that their not trying to fob me off. We've all been there when your told one thing by management, another by production, and yet something else by engineering! Again this helps me understand if the management review procedure is actually adequate.

I agree in that i have a frank and honest discussion with the auditee, but i do it throughout the day. i also make notes so that when (if) i go back i can check that these issues have been addressed.
My job isn't to judge what their doing, just to ensure that their crossing their T's, dotting their I's.

#8 rita

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Posted 25 April 2008 - 07:26 PM

HI!

WE HAVE OUR INTERNAL AUDITS DONE BY THE QA EXECUTIVE ON A BIMONTHLY BASIS. ALL THE FINDINGS ARE COMMUNICATED TO THE ALL CONCERNED DURING THE BRIEFING THE NEXT DAY. THEN WE TAKE THE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS AND SENT THE REPORT BACK.



#9 GMO

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 03:29 PM

It's interesting to hear all your thoughts, especially about auditing for different purposes. I've done the odd Health and Safety assessment and I find that I can adapt my skills pretty well.

I suppose it's nice to hear it's not too much of a bad thing to feel restrained by standards and checklists. It's funny though because we should raise different issues to a different level when you're making different foods, for example Jean's "minute findings... like the floor very dirty" - that would be a bigger issue in a sandwich factory due to the constant Listeria battle.



#10 Charles.C

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 04:22 PM

Dear All,

IMO, most people who have carried out asubstantial number of audits frequently develop a kind of sixth sense as to the basic acceptability of an establishment within a fairly short period of looking / smelling around. I suspect many auditors hv favorite check points within their checklists which act as indicators to the general well-being of the factory (in fact the dirty floor mentioned earlier would hv been a potential one for me, particularly if the audit was pre-arranged). I always try to make a point of forgetting "something" so that I can make a snap re-visit around the lunch hour. Hunger is definitely a lowest common denominator for rapid movement.
In some repects, I think the never-ending additions of sub-factors to standards like BRC can mask the crucial importance of getting the PRPs (and the CCPs) right.

Rgds Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#11 Jean

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 05:41 AM

Dear Charles and GMO,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, a dirty floor is a great concern in a high risk processing area, especially as Charles mentioned if it was a pre-arranged one. In my case the internal audits are done unannounced & during the busy operations, so that I can observe the Staff working, storage and operational process to look for the flaws. Moreover I do spot checks every day in all the areas and if the same issue of floors is noted in all my rounds then I would raise a NC. Usually I tend to ask for the reasons for any findings (minute/ minor or major) and raise the point if the justification provided was not acceptable based on the SSOP, standards or if there is a threat or risk for food safety.[/size]

Regards,


Best regards,

J

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#12 Ned

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 02:52 PM

GMO,

For internal audits I take a somewhat different approach, since I feel our primary goal is to change behaviors and the whole audit program should be built with that goal.

Well before the audit I work with the organization to agree to a standard (which could be a regulatory standard, a customer requirement or something we create internally). Since audits tend to be infrequent (annually perhaps) I lay out some more frequent tours and inspections, done by the site staff. These may be every shift, every day, monthly, semi-annually - and usually some combination. These provide specific, recurring feedback to the organization.

Then the "formal" audit that I perform confirms the performance of these inspections as well as conformance to the standard we already agreed to. By agreeing in advance to the standard, we are positioned to have acceptance of the findings.

For each of the elements of the standard, I have documented ahead of time what might represent total compliance (near perfect), minor non-compliance, major non-compliance and abject non-compliance. This allows us to mention, in a non-threatening way, the minor errors and oversights that can occur in human nature, so they can be improved. It also lets is call out serious problems and omissions. These definitions done ahead of time also help standardize some of the subjectivity inherent in audits.

For me, I put all of this in a database, allowing comparison from location to location and over time. It also speeds the performance of the audit, as I can quickly refer to the last findings on an item (and copy/paste them if nothing has changed). We can also call out best practices and improvement, to provide some much-needed positive reinforcement.

All this goes into a detailed written report they receive the same day as the audit (facilitated by the database). Ths provides full disclosure, transparency and the ability to "correct" any finding that is in error. The way the scores are incremented will highlight modest improvements, even when some element has not reached "perfection." And dual pass-fail thresholds encourage a minimum level of adherence as well as an optimum level.

It is unfortunate in our society, that sometimes "we" (management) don't put much effort into something unless we are scored on it, and it is part of our performance evaluation. So these scores, along with the frequent internal checks, do serve to move behavior.

Having said all that (and sounding extremely regimented in the process) I will also "walk around" with my own sense of what the world should look like. When I am not conducting a formal audit, I still have my eyes open during any visit, and I will mention those areas that need attention, as well as areas that have improved. Training, awareness building activities, design criteria and other proactive elements round out the program.

Thanks for starting this engaging thread!

Ned Mitenius
www.bytesizeaudits.com



#13 okido

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:23 PM

Hi GMO,

I use checklist for external audits, internal audits I have a checklist but I prefer to walk around and go with the flow.
Last year I started by reporting with pictures that are distributed to the responsible managers.
My notes I keep in a database, easy for reference and cross reference, attention point etc.

And keep in mind that an audit should add value to the company, be it intellectual, higher hygiene standards, safer products, etc, this is rather often forgotten.

Have a nice day, Okido



#14 AS NUR

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 04:56 AM

HI.. all my quality friends

According to pricncip of audit 6P's "Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance".. i use checklist for audit and the checklist prepared 1- 2 day before audit...



#15 Biss

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 08:54 AM

Hi All,

please see the link to ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group. may be it is useful for all the ISO 9001 auditors

http://isotc.iso.org...customview.html?


Biss


Biss

#16 Sirius

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 10:37 PM

All good points by everyone.

I won't go over what has been covered so far but I will mention that I tend towards the "geekiness" of things. To that end, my Food Services department has begun trailing a new auditing tool called Audit IT. Basically it allows us to streamline all audits (not just FS but OHS&W and any others we decide to bring on board) into one easy PDA package which automatically generates CARS when needed, analysis, reports, etc. These are all available for those, with appropriate permissions, who want to access them over a network.

Overall, so far it seems like a worthwhile product. No folders to carry on audits, less paper (only print out what you need when you need it), easy to update standards (one input carries info throughout the system) and transparent tracking.



#17 Charles.C

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 06:42 AM

Dear Sirius,

Looks neat but their promotional material seems in need of a bit of (human / nudge nudge) auditing ? :smile:

More Info... What do I need and what will it cost and how will AUDIT IT will help Compliance Managers and Auditors?


(I suppose it might be the Yarraville dialect)

Rgds / Charles

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#18 Simon

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 07:56 AM

All good points by everyone.

I won't go over what has been covered so far but I will mention that I tend towards the "geekiness" of things. To that end, my Food Services department has begun trailing a new auditing tool called Audit IT. Basically it allows us to streamline all audits (not just FS but OHS&W and any others we decide to bring on board) into one easy PDA package which automatically generates CARS when needed, analysis, reports, etc. These are all available for those, with appropriate permissions, who want to access them over a network.

Overall, so far it seems like a worthwhile product. No folders to carry on audits, less paper (only print out what you need when you need it), easy to update standards (one input carries info throughout the system) and transparent tracking.

I've always been rather sceptical about the value of these systems i.e. whether they work as well as they should (say they do) and also whether they are REALLY necessary, so it is really helpful to hear a review from an authentic user. Thanks for sharing Sirius.

Just as an off-topic, we have been kicking around ideas whether to have a separate forum for discussing tools such as these for improving the efficiency of a food safety practitioners job, this one example sort of tells me that it may be useful as this forum should be about improving efficiency and value adding rather than just about problem solving.

What do others think – would such a forum be used?

Regards,
Simon

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#19 cazyncymru

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 08:17 AM

All good points by everyone.

I won't go over what has been covered so far but I will mention that I tend towards the "geekiness" of things. To that end, my Food Services department has begun trailing a new auditing tool called Audit IT. Basically it allows us to streamline all audits (not just FS but OHS&W and any others we decide to bring on board) into one easy PDA package which automatically generates CARS when needed, analysis, reports, etc. These are all available for those, with appropriate permissions, who want to access them over a network.

Overall, so far it seems like a worthwhile product. No folders to carry on audits, less paper (only print out what you need when you need it), easy to update standards (one input carries info throughout the system) and transparent tracking.


Hope the PDA is on the glass register Sirius ;)

#20 FodfoodsafetyKate

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 12:30 PM

Hi all

Just out of interest, does anyone have a good version/copy of a useful document type checklist that could be referred to during a BRC, i am in the process of completing my shadows at min working for a CB so soon flying solo! Any help appreciated as i am nervous!!






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