What to Expect from Your Audit

Preparing for your audit

Please ensure that you are using the most recent CanadaGAP® manual. Click here for the most recent version. If you find that you need to update your manual to a newer version, check the revisions document for information about what has changed. You also need to be keeping records on your food safety program for at least three months prior to your audit.

How do I schedule an audit?

The Certification Body or the auditor will contact you to arrange a suitable date for your audit. When you are setting up your audit date, keep in mind that you or your representative must be available to accompany the auditor.

Audits must be scheduled to occur when you are in season – during harvest, product handling, packing/repacking, shipping, storage period etc. (depending on the scope of certification for your operation). This is important for the auditor to properly assess the implementation of your food safety program. Activities that are not occurring cannot be included in the scope of your audit. Multi-commodity operations may find, depending on the activities and crops involved, that a number of audits over several years are required before certification reflects the full scope of your business.

The Certification Body has committed to making every effort to schedule audits regionally and assign auditors to locations in close proximity, in order to minimize travel expenses. Please indicate when booking your audit whether you have a fixed/preferred date or if your timing is flexible and you can wait until an auditor is assigned to your area. This can make a significant difference in the travel costs you will be charged.

The Certification Body will also ask you for information on the scope of your operation, for example: the number of acres, the location of your production, the number of employees you have, other crops/livestock on your operation, and the specific products and activities that the audit will cover. They must also ask if you agree to them sharing your audit results with your buyers.

Questions to ask the company providing your audit

  • Is there an auditor close by?
  • Will my audit be scheduled to occur in conjunction with others nearby, so that auditor travel costs can be shared?
  • Will my audit report and certificate be mailed to me or will communication occur by email?

What can I expect during my audit?

The auditor will look at your production area for any visible hazards, review your manuals and records for compliance with the requirements of the CanadaGAP Program, and talk to your employees to ensure that necessary training has been carried out. If there are problems identified within your operation, the auditor will deduct points from the applicable questions on the audit checklist and note the major deficiencies in the executive summary of the report.

The auditor will review the audit report with you. You will both sign it and the auditor will leave a copy of the executive summary with you. A copy of the complete audit report will be sent by the Certification Body after they have reviewed the auditor’s findings.

How long will my audit take?

The length of time for an audit varies with the size of your operation. The majority of on-farm audits can be completed in a half day. Packing or repacking facilities or more complex operations can take longer.

When will I get my results?

The Certification Body will return your final audit report and CanadaGAP certificate within four weeks of the audit. Information about your certification (including the name of your operation, scope of the audit, etc.) will be posted on the Certification Body website. If you wish to display your compliance with CanadaGAP on signs, banners, or similar advertisements on your buildings or signs, please review the instructions and restrictions on use of program logos.

What happens if I fail the audit?

A score of 80% is required to pass the audit. If you fail your audit, you will have an opportunity to correct the problems. You will need to start filling in a Corrective Actions Report, available from this website, through your auditor or Certification Body. You must always correct all “autofail” items first. Other than these, the auditor will have identified some of the higher priority corrective action requests in the Executive Summary. These would be the next items you would be expected to correct. Beyond these, you can determine which remaining items to fix; however, you are advised to first speak with your Certification Body (including the auditor) and/or your customers, if appropriate, to ensure their expectations and priorities will be addressed. Fill in the corrective actions you have taken and send the report to your auditor to complete. The auditor may not need to return to your operation if you are able to provide photos, copies of records, etc. In some cases, a follow-up visit might be required. The auditors’ follow-up time and any charges for extra travel will be billed to you after the audit by the Certification Body.

If you are unsuccessful in implementing corrective actions to pass the audit, you can request a refund of the CanadaGAP Annual Program Fee, minus an administrative charge of $100, or apply your payment as a credit to the following year. Requests must be made in writing to the CanadaGAP office. A failed operation can enrol again and attempt certification the next year.

What is the benefit of an audit?

The audit: 

  • Is an opportunity to identify potential problems
  • Offers a continuous process for improvement
  • Helps you meet your customer requirements and comply with contract obligations
  • Helps you comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to food safety
  • Provides an effective method for involving and motivating staff at all levels.