food safety audit

What is a food safety audit?

Food safety audits are activities that evaluate the food safety management system.

  • Food safety audits are activities designed to assess the food safety management system at a food company in order to protect public health.
  • Food safety audits examine key areas such as food storage, food preparation, sanitation, and facility design.
  • Proper planning, extensive knowledge of food safety, and digital management tools are key to passing food safety audits.

Food businesses must ensure food safety in all aspects of their business. Food safety regulations and laws must be followed by all food businesses to ensure public health. Food safety audits are performed in order to highlight the importance and maintenance of food safety, as well as the role of government agencies in protecting the public’s health.

Food safety audits are an integral part of the food industry, but they are often feared by food business owners. The food safety report will show the current status of the business and its approach to food safety. Your operations are all subject to inspection by food safety auditors. You can greatly improve the quality of your food business by knowing how each one works and the purpose they serve.


What is a food safety inspection?

A food safety audit can be described as a structured activity that documents evaluations of a food business’s food security system in order to determine whether all practices comply with applicable food laws and regulations. A food safety audit provides a transparent report on the state and condition of food safety systems within a food business, as well as highlights its strengths and limitations. These reports can be used to improve your food security management strategy.

Food safety audits have become more important than ever as consumers are more aware of the laws and regulations governing food safety and the danger of food contamination. Food safety agencies place a lot of emphasis on hazard analysis and prevention in order to protect public health. This is all the more reason to strengthen your food control system!

A food safety audit is conducted to verify and evaluate the food safety management systems of food business owners in order to improve them. Food safety audits can also be performed to meet other requirements, such as the following:


  • Certain food safety standards require a certification audit
  • Evaluation of the premises and performance of food businesses
  • Ensure legal compliance
  • Inspection in response to a complaint
  • Requirements for regulatory compliance
  • Supplier request
  • Promoting business goals


These food safety audits may be performed by regulatory agencies or internal auditors, depending on the objectives. Your location will also affect laws, regulations, requirements, and orientations of the food control system. Food laws in some states are stricter than in others. It is important to do thorough research on the specific laws governing food.

Types of food safety audit

Internal or external food safety audits can be classified. An internal audit is one that is carried out by food safety professionals and managers within the food industry. External audits, on the other hand, are conducted by third- or second-party organizations. These can be further subdivided based on the relationship between auditors and the food business.


Here is a list of all the types of food safety audits that can be used to help you understand the classifications.

  • First-party audit. This audit is performed by employees of your food business to assess your food safety systems, and identify areas for improvement. Routine first-party audits are possible to verify food safety compliance.
  • Second-party audit. This type of audit, also known as a proprietary audit, is performed by your primary food business to other businesses that are directly related to you, such as for supplier verification. These audits are used to assess the suitability of new or existing suppliers based on the effectiveness of their food safety management system.
  • Third-party audit. Independent auditors or food safety auditing firms conduct this type of audit to assess your food safety management system. This audit is often done to obtain a certification or meet new food safety requirements.


No matter what type of audit you do, they all aim to improve the food safety management system in a food company. This is the area you should be focusing on. You must ensure that your food safety management system covers all possible risks and hazards. Also, make sure you continuously monitor and control their critical control. A system that is easy to understand and does not require micromanagement should be established.

food safety

Steps to ensure food safety

No matter whether a food safety inspection is done by an in-house committee, or by a third-party organization, there are certain structures and key areas that must be evaluated. You need to understand what happens during an audit as part of your preparations for a food safety inspection. Here are the steps to plan and execute a food safety inspection. This structure can be used for internal audits.


  • Planning. This step requires that an auditor or audit team identify the clear purpose of the food safety audit process. This step narrows down which areas need to be evaluated during the auditing process. The whole food safety audit will be guided by a predetermined scope. 
    1. This planning stage will allow audit teams to concentrate on their particular observations and offer more critical recommendations and assessments. This is where the auditor will request that your food business submit a copy of your food safety management plan for review prior to the actual audit. An auditor will decide whether to conduct an onsite verification based on your documented food safety management systems.


  • Execution. An onsite inspection would include a review of your process operations and sanitation conditions. It also includes documentation.


  • Corrective and preventative measures. The auditor will assess your readiness to correct any breaches of standards by evaluating whether you have taken the appropriate preventive or corrective steps.


  • Verification. This would determine whether corrective and preventive actions are effective as well as appropriate. Commonly, verification procedures involve reviewing the documents that contain corrective actions and the results.


  • Audit evaluation. Auditors must evaluate their progress during the actual audit. This stage is very important. The audit process is evaluated to ensure that it is on track and that the goals are being met. This is especially useful for internal food safety audits, as it can help improve the process of evaluating them.


Most food safety audits consist of routine inspections and standard key areas. If you conduct regular inspections, your team will be able to quickly identify and address any concerns. A Health Inspection Checklist is available to assist you in routine evaluations. It covers most of the food safety areas so that your team can focus on getting a high score.


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