Auditing Takes Center Stage in FSMA

The important role of audits and auditors in assessing regulatory compliance
May 19, 2017 8:00 AM ET
Article

Reposted from original publication May 11, 2017 in Food Quality & Safety

In today’s complex global supply chain and environment of ever-expanding market requirements, it has become common to rely on third-party audits to help assure the safety of one’s supplies. Not only are food safety regulations driving this uptick, but retailers and other buyers are demanding it to reduce risk to consumer and brand value. Third-party audit schemes, such as those benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), build confidence in the supply chain. Companies in compliance with such schemes have appropriate and comprehensive food safety controls in place to address hazards expected within their operation and for their specific product type.

Third-party audits provide companies with an objective assessment of their programs and practices, enable them to identify opportunities for continuous improvement, and delineate gaps in their practices from industry best practices or regulatory requirements. Use of such audit schemes aid companies in minimizing food safety risks by ensuring implementation of the practices and programs necessary to reduce foodborne illness. A key factor in ensuring the integrity of scheme implementation and compliance is auditor competence. An auditor’s interpretation of food safety audit standards is critical to ensuring the rigor of the audit scheme. Experienced auditors with the appropriate training and education provide objective and thorough assessments of the evidence gathered during the audit.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) emphasizes prevention and accountability across the supply chain to ensure the safety of foods consumed within the U.S., irrespective of where the food is produced. Seven regulations have been finalized and issued by the U.S. FDA as part of FSMA, four of which address auditing in some manner.  Here's what you need to know.

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Willette M. Crawford, Ph.D., MPH
SCS Global Services
+1 (831) 238-9808