What is a food safety audit?

A food safety audit is also commonly referred to as a “food safety inspection” or simply an “audit” in the context of evaluating and ensuring compliance with food safety standards and regulations.  A food safety audit is a detailed examination of your restaurant’s food safety procedures and practices. It is conducted by an independent, third-party auditor who will assess your restaurant against a set of food safety standards. The audit will identify any areas of non-compliance and make recommendations for corrective action.

Restaurant food safety audits can be a daunting process for food businesses, but it’s important to be prepared.

Food Safety Audit

Types of food safety audit

There are three types of food safety audits:

  • First-party audits: These are conducted by businesses themselves to evaluate their current food safety systems regularly. This is useful for businesses that follow a high standard of food safety and want to ensure their practices are effective.
  • Second-party audit: Also known as a ‘proprietary audit’, this type of audit is carried out by a primary organization to evaluate another directly related company. A typical example would be a food business auditing one of its suppliers.
  • Third-party audit: A third-party food safety audit is a comprehensive evaluation of your food safety protocols and procedures by food safety audit firms and/or independent auditors. It’s often done to help a business earn a food safety certificate or meet new regulatory guidelines.

Even though the objectives may be different, the end goal is always the same — to identify and address food safety concerns.

What to expect in a Food Safety Audit?

To prepare for your food safety audit, you should review your current policies and procedures, and make sure that they are up to date. You should also train your staff on food safety procedures and practices, and make sure that they understand the importance of following these procedures. You also need to review your physical facility to ensure that it meets all food safety requirements.

During the food safety audit, the auditor will interview your staff, observe your operations, and inspect your facility. They will also review your policies and procedures to ensure that they are being followed.

After the audit is complete, you will be given a report detailing the findings of the audit and any recommendations for corrective action. Corrective action may include changes to your policies and procedures, training for your staff, or changes to your physical facility.

You then need to take steps to implement the recommendations from the report. This may include updating your policies and procedures, training your staff, or making changes to your physical facility. Taking these steps will help you maintain compliance with food safety regulations and improve the safety of your restaurant.

Food safety audit steps:

  1. Planning

    The first step of a food safety audit is to identify the objectives. This helps determine which areas need to be audited. Then, auditors make observations and develop a food safety plan based on this information.

  2. Execution

    This step decides if a physical site visit is needed. The onsite inspection involves evaluations of various aspects of the company’s daily processes, including safety procedures, cleanliness, and documentation.

  3. Corrective actions

    The crux of this stage is to determine whether the company is meeting expectations and if they’re prepared to take proactive steps to fix any problems.

  4. Verification

    This step evaluates whether corrective actions will be adequate to solve the identified issues. It also involves verifying records and tracing the problem to ensure that corrective measures are in place.

  5. Audit evaluation

    To ensure the audit is successful, it’s crucial to monitor the progress and compare it against the set goals. A food safety checklist can help you be more prepared for these types of inspections. It is essential to keep track of the audit process itself to evaluate if it is on track to meet the defined objectives. 

Key aspects of a food safety audit

Different countries have different food safety laws, but here are 7 key areas that all audits typically cover:

  1. Storage Temperature Control: To keep food from going bad, it is crucial to store perishable items like meat, dairy, and veggies at the correct temperatures. This means being vigilant and ensuring that all temperature ranges are within the safe zone.
  2. Food Storage: If you want to pass a food safety audit, you’ll need to store your food properly. That means keeping it at the right temperature, in a controlled environment, and making sure it’s labeled correctly. Expiration dates are crucial too.
  3. Food Preparation in food safety audits: Food prep is crucial to keeping food safe. This area of food safety covers a range of things, from properly segregating raw ingredients while prepping, to cooking food to the right internal temperature, to thawing Frozen food correctly. It also encompasses hand hygiene, like using gloves or washing hands during prep.
  4. Infrastructure: From storing and handling food to preparing it, your facility must have the right amenities to support safe operations. This includes having clean and well-maintained restrooms, hot running water, and adequate drainage. Neglecting these details can put your business at risk of failing an audit.
  5. Employee Hygiene: One of the key aspects of a food safety inspection is how well your employees maintain hygiene. This includes everything from keeping themselves clean to wearing the appropriate clothing, and following basic hygiene protocol such as hand-washing.
  6. Cleaning and Sanitation: Proper cleaning and sanitation are key to preventing foodborne illness. This area of a food safety audit looks at factors such as handwashing stations, sanitary equipment, and availability of hot water for cleansing.
  7. Documentation: Documentation is critical. This can include documents such as your written food safety policy, staff training records, and HACCP plans. You’ll also want to make sure you have the right papers and signage in place, as well as any required certifications for your staff.

How KNOW can help

Auditing your food handling procedures can be a time-consuming process, but it’s essential to keeping your restaurant running smoothly. With KNOW, you can keep tabs on all aspects of your operation, from employee training to handover procedures. You can even generate 1-click reports and have a digital repository of all audits right at your fingertips. Start streamlining your auditing process now!

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