How To Prepare for A Third-Party Audit or Inspection

You know when the audit is scheduled. You know what’s riding on the outcome. But do you know how to properly prepare your staff and facility for the big day?

Judi Lazaro, senior category director, food safety for AIB International, laid out some important tips for food processing professionals on a recent Sprague Spotlight Webinar on Audit Compliance.

“Facility and QA managers must get into the plants and see what’s happening in real time,” says Lazaro. “Evaluate your entire facility from top to bottom from a pest control standpoint. If you were a rodent how would you get in? When was the last time I was on the plant roof? Ask questions and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and your team.”

Lazaro encourages managers to look at their facilities differently and not make their journeys to the production floor or loading dock about identifying only things that are wrong but promoting what is being done correctly and why having a positive food safety culture is important.

“Have a conversation with employees at all levels and ask them what’s happening that’s good and what could be improved,” says Lazaro. “Review GMPs like explaining why keeping product away from exterior walls is important. It leaves space for cleaning crews to do their job, it gives pest control technicians access to check rodent devices and maintenance staff to make repairs. Take the opportunity to teach.”

Another GMP that needs to be consistently followed is self-inspection of incoming goods.

“A facility’s shipping or receiving manager is the most important person in preventing pests from gaining access or distributing them in shipments,” says Lazaro. “How much training do they have in pest identification? Do they know what to look for? They have a great deal of responsibility and a regular training program from your pest control provider is highly beneficial.”

When conducting a self-inspection before an audit, facility managers should look at their facility as an auditor or inspector would. Here are some tips from an auditor’s perspective:

  • TIP # 1 – Know Your Equipment. When self-inspecting equipment don’t just ‘kick the tires’ on the most accessible areas. Know how your equipment operates and where it is vulnerable to pests. For example, the tailings bucket in sifters can offer valuable indicators on pest activity. Tailings are the food materials left over after they are processed, and they can be a magnet to stored product and other pests. If the bucket is not regularly cleaned and inspected, it will continue to attract pests.
  • TIP # 2 – Look A Product Age. Adhere to the first-in, first-out theory of inventory management. Products that are more than four weeks old are more susceptible to pest infestation. Also, if there are dusty pallets in your storage area it gets the attention of an auditor or inspector.
  • TIP # 3 – Don’t Ignore the Little Things. Never walk by a floor drain or pile of dirt on the production floor without giving it a second look. A seemingly innocent dirt pile could become a pest food source or harborage area.
  • TIP # 4 – Talk With Your Frontline Staff – Who will know where hard to find pests are most likely to be seen? The machine operators on the production floor can tell you because they are the ones observing operations daily. Encourage them to use the pest sighting log and let management know what they are seeing when it comes to pests and pest conducive conditions. All employees are PMPs.

For more information on how Sprague Pest Solutions can assist you prepare for a third-party audit or inspection, call 855.805.0755.

Register for the next Sprague Spotlight Webinar on Effective Bed Bug Management scheduled for September 16 and 30 at 10 a.m. PST. Register at

Food Processing & Manufacturing, Food Retail & Grocery, Restaurants