Is there a difference between an inspection and an audit? The short answer is yes but if QA and facility managers look deeper, they’ll see the value of meshing the two to strengthen the pest management and food safety protocols in their plants.
This was the message Judi Lazaro, senior category director, food safety for AIB International, shared with attendees of the recent Sprague Spotlight Webinar Series on Audit Compliance: Evaluating Your Program.
“Inspections are a physical activity to confirm that conditions are compliant on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis,” said Lazaro. “An inspection might trigger a need to audit records to pinpoint where controls were effective and then became non-compliant.”
An inspection can be a physical in person event or observations of operational or personnel practices, and they are usually unannounced.
On the flipside, an audit of a food plant’s production floor might uncover a condition that would prompt you to conduct a physical inspection. An example of this would be signs of pest or rodent infestation under a piece of equipment or on a pallet.
An audit evaluates documented pest management and food safety programs to verify:
- How formalized the programs are.
- Whether events are recorded appropriately to support the scope and function of the prerequisite programs in the plant.
For risk mitigation, audit programs can identify potential pest problems before they occur. Lazaro said if you operate your facility in a manner that does not meet customer and regulatory requirements it’s likely you’ll be making what is called in regulatory terms a “violative” product, which means contaminated product that is likely to be a food safety hazard.
Having a strong internal audit program will uncover and correct food safety issues before they become a significant problem.
Lazaro shared the ICE method to stay ahead of pest and food safety issues. It stands for Identify, Control and Eliminate pest threats in a facility.
She noted that identifying and controlling pests can be the easier part of the equation, and that QA and plant management, in partnership with their pest management service provider, need to focus on eliminating the pest threat over the long term.
“If a company relied solely on auditing records and observing activities without a physical inspection component, the likely end result would be a failure to achieve regulatory compliance,” said Lazaro. “You haven’t done a good inspection or audit if you don’t do ICE.”
The bottom line is plant records must accurately reflect the conditions and those records must always be verified by a physical inspection. That is how inspections and audits work together to keep your facility compliant and safely producing the products your customers and consumers need.
For more information on how Sprague Pest Solutions can help you design a pest management program that emphasizes inspections and audit readiness, call 855.805.0755.
Register for the next Sprague Spotlight Webinar – Mitigating The Threat Of Invasive Birds on Wednesday, August 5 at 10 a.m. PST.