Dealing with Audit Non-Conformances

Dealing with Audit Non-Conformances

Hello Friends in Food Safety,

This week we are dedicating our blog to everyone who has undergone a certification audit as well as those who have an audit coming up sometime soon. It’s no secret that food safety certification audits are not a walk in the park but what happens after the audit seems to be even more intimidating than the audit itself.

Most GFSI recognized food safety standards such as FSSC, BRCGS and IFS have a very unique set of rules in terms of how audit non-conformances are dealt with. From varying due dates, requirements for correction to root cause analysis and corrective action, many organizations would prefer undergoing a root canal (without the local anesthetic). Our objective this week is to help clarify the requirements and clear up the confusion…

Let’s start with FSSC which seems to have turned into a nightmare of sorts with the introduction of a new set of requirements for dealing with audit non-conformances.  With effect from June 2020 all FSSC certified sites are required to submit a root cause analysis, evidence of corrections as well as planned corrective actions within 28 calendar days of the last day of the audit.  Sites who do not adhere to these strict rules stand the risk of having their certificate suspended (no jokes). Certification bodies who do not respect these rules stand the risk if being penalized through the KPI system.

BRCGS follows a similar approach to dealing with non-conformances. The site has a total of 28 calendar days to provide evidence of the corrections (immediate action taken).  Also required is a root cause analysis as well as corrective actions aimed at preventing the re-occurrence of the non-conformance.

The IFS version 7 requirements have also been reviewed to include a 28 calendar day deadline.  Sites are required to provide evidence of corrections as well as corrective action plans within 28 days from receiving the provisional assessment report.  Bearing in mind that this could take up to two weeks to submit, sites may feel less pressurized since they have the opportunity to start working on generating the required evidence based on non-conformance feedback during the closing meeting.

Our handy hints:

  • Start working on the cause analysis immediately after the audit
  • Allocate responsibilities to different process owners to deal with non-conformances relating to their departments
  • Use a tracking tool or regular meetings to track progress on each non-conformance
  • Set strict internal due dates for completion which allow some extra time to review the cause analysis, evidence of correction and corrective action plans
  • Don’t submit your evidence to the auditor for review on the last day. Plan ahead and allow for a few days to make any adjustments or submit additional evidence if necessary

Good luck!

Until next week…