A food safety audit of your facility should always been on your mind. The processes that you implement as a quality assurance professional should all be in the quest of being permanently ready for a food safety audit, because the truth is that you may not have a lot warning before the next inspector comes.

Hopefully you already have a good system in place for preparing for those audits you do know about, but following are three things you might forget that can help you get the perfect score you want.

Always Be Preparing

Whether you want to be prepared for a scheduled audit that’s already on the calendar or you want to be ready for the increasingly common unannounced audits that could come from your customers or certification agency, you always need to be working with an audit in mind. There are many ways that you can be preparing all the time, including ongoing pest management, consistent training for all employees involved in food safety, and clear, available documentation. In fact, documentation is one of the most critical pieces in a food safety program. You should have readily available not only the proof of certification that you need for your facility and for various employees, but also a solid documentation plan that covers everything you do for food safety and quality assurance – including data on logbooks, product labels, date stamps, invoices, customer lists and other documents and records. This way you can easily train new employees and quickly reference it during an audit for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Conduct a Pre-Audit

When you have a scheduled audit to prepare for, conducting your own internal pre-audit using the standards that you know you’ll be held to can be an invaluable use of time. By going through the audit process yourself you should be able to easily identify any problems that may come up during the actual audit process. It can even be a good idea to conduct these internal audits regularly in order to prepare for any unannounced audits that you may face.

Invest in Training

Your team is your best resource for preparing for and passing a food safety audit. However, without the right training it is impossible for you to leverage your team as well as you could. Be sure that your facility, from top to bottom, knows what is required of them in the event of an audit, and knows how to do their jobs in such a way that an audit will never be a problem. It can be a challenge at time to get executive buy-in for training courses, but the return on investment is huge if it means you are able to pass an unannounced food safety audit with no problems.

Whether you are buying new microbiology products, washing your hands, or doing any of the day-to-day tasks that are necessary for a quality assurance professional, you need to be thinking about the possibility of an audit. When you are prepared all the time, you will not need to stress about the eventuality of an unannounced audit coming at the wrong time, and that peace of mind will be well worth the extra effort.