A ‘split audit’ occurs when a single audit is deliberately split into two separate parts – one for observation of activities and employee interviews, and a return visit for document review. Split audits are not permitted under the CanadaGAP program.
An example of a split audit is:
- an auditor observes harvesting of potatoes in October and returns in January to complete the document review.
In contrast, these examples would NOT be a split audit:
- an operation needs two audits their first year in order to have two crops on their certificate— one in May for asparagus and one in October for apples.
- an auditor is unable to see a new packing line on the day of an audit due to mechanical failure. The remainder of the audit is completed that day, but then the auditor returns to the operation two days later to complete the observation of the packing line.
- an auditor arrives at the audit and it’s raining; therefore, the harvesting of strawberries cannot be observed. The remainder of the audit is completed that day, but the auditor returns to the operation the week after to complete the observation of harvesting.
Except in very special circumstances, audits must occur when activities relevant to the operation’s certification are underway – 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 based on a snapshot of what is occurring at the operation on the day of the audit. When the operation wants to split an audit so that the auditor can rush through observing activities such as harvesting and then come back at a less busy time to review documents on a separate date, does not achieve the intent of an audit.
Some further reasons that audits cannot be split into two parts include:
- The tour portion of the audit may take the most amount of time for the auditor to complete; therefore, splitting the audit does not save the operation much time.
- The auditor cannot assess the implementation of the food safety program properly without cross-checking details to determine their accuracy, currency and validity. Having the audit take place on two separate dates, makes cross-referencing of information next to impossible.
- A two-part audit would entail substantial overlap for each visit. This means that the auditor would spend more time overall, thus increasing the total audit duration.
- If audits were to be split, it would create confusion for the auditors about which questions to score and at which audit, especially for non-conformities This confusion would lead to inconsistency among audits and increased potential for disputes around audit findings and results.
- Splitting audits introduces a further complication for certification bodies in managing the audit and certification process for all clients.
For more in-depth information, please contact the CanadaGAP office.