Though there are some cases where it is acceptable to make minor corrections and improvements to the operation’s food safety system during the audit, generally it is not the case. If the situation involves any of the automatic failure items, the auditee is NOT allowed to address the corrective action immediately. These situations usually have a high food safety risk and need to be treated accordingly to mitigate the risk. An audit is a ‘snapshot in time’ of what a particular auditor saw on a particular day, and the score needs to reflect that. Operations can and should be continuously improving their food safety programs. Food safety issues should always be addressed when they are noted, regardless of whether that is during an audit or not. However, most issues require more follow-up (i.e., verification of the preventive or corrective measures, including effective re-training, etc.) to ensure the issue has truly been addressed.
Example #1: During the audit, both the auditor and the person responsible notice mouse droppings on a table that will shortly be used for packing product. The person responsible removes the droppings, covers the table with a clean rubber mat, trains the employee to inspect the table and clean it before use, and records all information on Forms R and K. This would be an autofail. The person responsible did what is necessary to mitigate the risk at that time; however, this is a significant issue, and more investigation is required to ensure the root cause of the hazard is properly and consistently addressed.
Example #2: During the audit, both the auditor and the person responsible notice one stall in a multi-stall washroom has no toilet paper. The person responsible replaces the roll using a nearby stock of replacement toilet paper. This may be corrected at the time of audit with no points lost, provided that the auditor determines during their risk assessment (e.g., supplies are in nearby closet, other stalls have toilet paper, employees say washrooms are usually stocked, etc.) why this situation occurred. If there are no controls in place, then the auditor would note the issue on the audit checklist and remove points even though the person responsible replaced the roll of toilet paper.
Example #3: During the audit, employees are observed using an option #3 handwashing station in the incorrect order – hand sanitizer followed by hand wipes. The person responsible stops activities, gathers all employees, re-trains on the correct order of use (hand wipes followed by hand sanitizer) and records this training on Form K. This would be an autofail. The audit is not the best time to be re-training employees. Perhaps not all employees are on-site that day, there could be language barriers, as well as employees made nervous by the presence of the auditor and not able to focus on the information. The person responsible also needs time to observe, verify and reinforce the training.