Food safety audits are a part of life, they’re not going anywhere, and they’re getting more stringent. The good news is by following these best practice guidelines your auditing process should run smoothly regardless of which regulatory body you’re aiming to impress…
The requirements for passing an audit seem to be getting more and more stringent – especially for the food industry. Whether your plant is being audited for MPI approval, International certifications like BRC, by regional councils, WorkSafe, or for a customer’s own internal standards, there’s some key steps you can take to be prepared:
Keep thorough documentation
Ensure lubricants are being applied appropriately and correctly
Implement a working process to eliminate cross-contamination between lubricants and food products.
Here is a general guide for what you’ll need to prepare:
Most audits require proof the oils and greases you use meet the required standards.
Within New Zealand any food grade lubricants will need to be MPI approved and there may be additional confirmation statements required around allergens, dietary restrictions, use of genetically modified substances (GMS), etc. Statements or proof of compliance against local government or faith-based certifications, such as Kosher or Halal, may be also required.
Your lubricant supplier should have the most up-to-date certifications available to use.
With the average food processing plant using between 20 to 60 lubricant products, the auditing process is simplified and therefore a lot faster where those lubricants are consolidated as much as possible. There are fewer checks to be made where lubricants are from the same manufacturer, and where all lubricants are food grade certified.
Having the right documentation available will make the process much smoother. Here’s a few things you may need:
Preventative Maintenance Schedule – having this on hand will provide proof of your adherence to best practices.
Cross-Reference Report – this is an itemised list of the lubricants you use, categorised by equipment, application and frequency of use. This demonstrates you’re using the right lubricants, with the right certifications, for the correct application.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Training Records – you’ll need the most up-to-date SDS for each product to prove your compliance to safe handling. It is also recommended to maintain your employee training records and have them on hand to demonstrate everyone has been trained on how to properly handle and apply the lubricants.
Product Labels – this is especially important if you use both food grade and non-food grade lubricants. All products need to be labelled properly and legibly, and you’ll need to be prepared to explain your internal system for preventing cross contamination across the plant.
Safe Storage and Handling
Auditors visibly assess processing areas, storage areas and equipment rooms where some lubricants may be located.
In storage areas, besides the overall condition and cleanliness, they will look at the distinction between lubricants rated for incidental food contact (such as H1,HT1) from others commonly referred to as non-food grade. They will ensure that the risk of misuse of a non-food grade lubricant into an application identified as needing food grade has been identified and preventative controls are in place, since food safety is at stake.
From dedicated storage tanks with dedicated pumps, or drums with dedicated drum pumps, practices for storing and then transporting the lubricants to the equipment will help auditors in their risk assessment of cross-contamination.
Besides good identification and dedicated pumps, best-in-class storage areas will have devices to maintain product integrity while in storage and ensure clean oil is put into service, such as desiccant breathers on drums and bulk tanks to prevent airborne contamination, filtration and air-tight transport containers.
Ongoing Best Practices
The auditing process will seem easy as if you, and your team are prepared. The best way to do that is to implement the following standard operating processes:
Regularly monitor your operating equipment and document how you’ve identified and rectified any potential lubricant cross-contamination areas.
Keep an ongoing list of the lubricants being used (their full names), where they are being used, and their respective volumes per application.
Implement a robust inventory management process for ongoing lubricant lifecycle management.
Document ongoing internal safety initiatives – for example schedule of SDS reviews, staff training etc.
Conduct regular mock audits to identify and fix and potential issues well in advance of any actual inspections. This can be done by a third party, or by an internal expert.
How Can Duramach Help?
To help make your auditing process easy as, there’s 3 ways Duramach can help:
Up-to-date documentation and certifications are easily downloadable on our website – this includes:
Technical data sheets
Safety data sheets
Food safety certifications
Food grade product consolidation – we have a large range of top performing food grade lubricants available should you decide to consolidate your lubricants.
Our easy stock system gives you total peace of mind over your product restocking and storage, ensuring you’ve got the correct products on site, correctly labelled and easily identifiable for minimal risk of mis-application.
We offer a regular on site ‘pre-audit’ or mock audit service to make sure you’ve got everything in place for a hassle-free audit.