Timing/Scheduling of audits
The Certification Body or the auditor will contact the operation to arrange a suitable date for an audit. When setting up an audit date, operations should keep in mind that a designate must be available to accompany the auditor.
Audits must be scheduled to occur when activities relevant to the operation’s certification are occurring – during harvest, product handling, packing/repacking season, shipping, etc. This is important for the auditor to properly assess the implementation of the food safety program. Activities that are not occurring cannot be included in the scope of the 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 their business.
For more detailed guidance on optimal audit timing, please refer to the CanadaGAP Program Management Manual, Section 126.96.36.199.3 Audit Scheduling. It is the responsibility of the Certification Body (CB) to ensure that the audit is scheduled appropriately.
There is only one Audit Checklist and it includes the requirements for all scopes that CanadaGAP covers. Audits must take place while relevant activities are occurring. Depending on the timing of an operation’s season and activities, they may not be able to have all activities/crops included in their CanadaGAP certification after a single audit. It may take more than one audit and longer than a single season before a certificate will reflect the full extent of an operation’s activities/crops. Most customers are aware of this reality and have shown flexibility as complex operations work towards certification for the full range of their activities.
CanadaGAP has prepared a guidance document for certification bodies that contains relevant information on audit scoping, timing and scheduling for complex operations. The document outlines basic principles for program participants who have operations with multiple commodities, multiple activities, more than one certification option, or numerous production sites. To access the document, go to https://www.canadagap.ca/certification/audit-and-certification-process/ and click on the Guidance for Certification Bodies button.
An unannounced audit is an audit that is not scheduled in advance with the operation. Instead, the Certification Body provides notice 2 to 5 business days before the audit is to occur. The unannounced audit will take place instead of a scheduled audit, and like all CanadaGAP audits, will occur when activities relevant to the scope of the operation’s certification are occurring.
The unannounced audit programme is for operations enrolled in certification Options A1, A2, C and D. Each year the Certification Body will choose 10% of its clients for an unannounced audit; therefore, over time, everyone will have an unannounced audit.
If an operation is enrolled in Option A1 or A2 (4-year audit cycle), there is no change to the way the audit cycle or random audits work. The operation will still be informed in advance if they are randomly selected for an audit. However, they may not be told the exact date of the random audit (i.e., it could be unannounced).
More detailed information about unannounced audits can be found here.