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The Contribution of Third Party Food Safety Audits and Inspections

AN AUDIT is a systematic evaluation of food facility documentation to determine if programs and related activities achieve planned expectations. AN INSPECTION is a thorough physical review of a food facility to assess what is actually happening in a facility at a moment in time.

An invaluable component
to the safety of the U.S. food supply system
Working to identify, reduce, eliminate, and prevent food hazards.
  • Multiple independent companies and audit programs, including AIB International, provide literally thousands of independent checks and balances to the food supply system.
  • There is no direct cost to taxpayers.

Voluntary tools of the
food facility operator
Not meant to replace regulatory compliance inspections that are undertaken by the FDA and other governmental agencies.
  • Usually, audits do not include microbiological sampling; however, a representative review of microbiological test records is part of the program evaluation.
  • As a voluntary activity with no legal status, the audits depend on openness and disclosure to accomplish their full function.
  • They are not meant to uncover deceit or fraud.

A professional service;
a consultation activity
The facility can take advantage of the recommendations in full, in part, or not at all.
  • The deficiencies observed in the audit report can be resolved to the satisfaction of the facility or the buyer of product from the facility through pre-arranged agreements or program enhancements.
  • Examples would include announced or unannounced visits; reports to all interested parties; and follow up to resolve deficiencies through a variety of reporting methods.

Where the food industry utilizes audits and inspections Audits and inspections strengthen food safety programs in:
  • Distribution centers
  • Warehousing facilities
  • Ingredient suppliers
  • Packaging suppliers
  • All areas of the food production process

Provides employee
Responsible personnel are encouraged to accompany the auditors/inspectors during the audit as well as the closing session.
  • The training component is particularly important to small and medium size companies without a large corporate staff.
  • In addition, the standards and the experience of the entire organization is part of the transmission of best practices to each and every processing facility involved.

strengthened and
Provides an opportunity to recalibrate a facility’s own self-inspection which is a requirement of a standard food safety program.
  • Will assist with identifying opportunities for improvements.
  • Offer new advances and innovation related to the production of safe food.

Provides objective
Provides a new set of eyes to view the operation, without the natural familiarity that occurs over time with regular staff in the day-to-day routine.
  • Focus on root causes, not just symptoms.

Audits and inspections
support supplier
approval programs
Assists in ensuring a safe and predictable product to a purchasing organization that has established its own food safety standards that must be adhered to before a business transaction can take place.
  • Empowers clients to lower their business risk and strengthen their reputations.

The AIB GMP Inspection

AIB has been conducting food safety audits for 60 years and is a pioneer in this field of activity. The company stresses the value of physical inspection of a facility’s plant and equipment, in addition to an audit of programs, policies, procedures and other documentation. Many characteristics of the AIB GMP inspection may be observed in other firms’ third party inspections.

Following are some details regarding AIB’s program:

Report of AIB GMP inspection AIB GMP reports are content-rich, with an average of 68 comments and observations, and typically run 10-20 pages.
  • The AIB GMP Standards consider over 300 elements, under 5 categories. In recent years, the total number of observations for improvements offered and reported exceed 150,000 per year in the US alone.

Score of the AIB
GMP inspection
Scoring is based on observation of deficiencies against the Standard being utilized and reported in 5 categories, each with a maximum of 200 points awarded. Therefore, only a score of 1000 would indicate no opportunity for improvement against the GMP Standards.
  • In addition, even if a facility has a score of, say 900, it may still have a serious observation in one of the 5 categories of the Standards. Not unlike a performance review, a lower number in one category, balanced off with good performance in the other four Categories does not mean that improvements are not needed. The report should be taken as a total document, not just a score.

Announced /Unannounced AIB International supports the use of both announced and unannounced inspections as an important component of ensuring the safety of the food supply of the U.S. and worldwide. The AIB inspection report clearly states whether the inspection was announced or unannounced.
  • Announced inspections provide the best opportunity to train onsite personnel to validate the effectiveness of onsite self-inspection and to transfer the best practices from one firm to another.
  • Announced inspections provide the best day to day view of the operations. They provide the best insight for companies purchasing products from a facility and should be used in conjunction with other requirements (Certificate of Analysis, independent lab analysis, and purchasing protocol, history, etc.), to lower the risk of a food safety failure.

Frequency Most AIB GMP inspections are conducted once per year, typically in a 2-day visit. Most companies use the inspection event as an opportunity to truly assess how they stack up against the AIB Consolidated Standards and prior inspections.

Company / Client
Inspections and audits are paid for by the facility/company having the service provided, not unlike financial audits which are also self-paid.

AIB inspectors code of conduct Our inspection staff are full-time employees who do not receive incentive pay for inspection results. As a part of their extensive training, AIB inspectors are instructed to maintain a professional demeanor with their clients that is conducive to a constructive interaction. AIB current policy is that inspectors are rotated out after three consecutive visits.

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