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    How to choose a food safety auditor – Critical Characteristic 3, Corrective Actions

    Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

    Julia Stewart:
    Hello, this is PMA PR Director Julia Stewart, and welcome back to PMA’s audio blog, “Ask Dr. Bob” with PMA’s Chief Science & Technology Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker. We’re in the middle of a series of posts about choosing a food safety auditor.

    Bob, during all our discussions you have alluded to the importance of completing any audit with the development of corrective actions.   Can you detail what you mean by this for our listeners?

    Bob:
    Sure.  This is our third Critical Characteristic in choosing an auditor. Sometimes I think the corrective actions segment of the audit process may just be the most important element of the audit.  Unfortunately, I also think we tend to lose sight of it. In the context of selecting a third party auditing partner or in meeting with a third party designated by a customer, it is very important to understand what their process is for developing and submitting corrective actions following an audit.

    A good corrective actions process starts with an auditor exit interview the day the audit is conducted, and is not complete until you address with written corrective actions each area where deficiencies were identified. In terms of a third party auditor, look to see if they have a formal process for filing corrective actions. Their corrective action process indicates the audit firm’s depth and tells you as a customer of theirs that they recognize the value a good corrective actions program brings to you.

    At the end of an audit, you should be presented with a list of deficiencies or items that need further attention.  You will likely get an informal list of issues at the exit interview with your auditor immediately following your audit, and then a more formal written audit report further listing deficiencies a few weeks later.  Unfortunately, I think many times, we tend to take the final audit report, check out the score, send it on to our customer and then file it away.  If we do that, we are missing a great opportunity to improve our food safety programs and communicate with our customers regarding the priority we place on food safety. 

    Julia:
    So you feel that there is real value in the corrective actions process and that a third party auditing company needs to provide its customers with a mechanism to prepare corrective actions after an the audit has been performed?

    Bob:
    Absolutely, Julia. Corrective actions development is actually a real opportunity for a producer to use that audit internally with your employees as a training tool and externally to communicate to your customer your focus on improving your food safety performance.

    Julia:
    Bob hold that thought there. Let’s delve into those opportunities of corrective actions in our next one.

    Thanks very much for listening in today.  If you would like to submit a question for Dr. Bob to cover in a future blog post, you can email him at askdrbob@pma.com.  And if you haven’t already signed up to receive Ask Dr. Bob posts by email, we invite you to do so today – just go to the home page of the blog and type your email address into the “subscribe” field you’ll find on the home page of the blog.

    Thanks for joining us, and see you next time!

     
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