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National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Guideline. Developed by the Implementation Sub- Committee of the Food Regulation Standing Committee.

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National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Guideline Developed by the Implementation Sub- Committee of the Food Regulation Standing Committee. Version November Acknowledgments The Implementation
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National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Guideline Developed by the Implementation Sub- Committee of the Food Regulation Standing Committee. Version November Acknowledgments The Implementation Sub-Committee (ISC) of the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) would like to thank the members of the ISC Audit Policy Implementation Working Group (APIWG) for finalising this Guideline. The following agencies were represented on the ISC APIWG: ACT Health. Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Dairy Food Safety Victoria. Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry. Department of Health, South Australia. Department of Human Services Victoria. Department of Health Western Australia. NSW Food Authority. New Zealand Food Safety Authority. Queensland Health. Safe Food Production Queensland. Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. Dr Anne Astin Chair Implementation Sub-Committee 2 Table of contents Executive summary 4 Scope and objectives 5 Introduction to the regulatory food safety audit system 6 Responsibility for food safety and liability 6 1. Criteria and approval processes for regulatory food safety auditors National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework Approval criteria for regulatory food safety auditor applicants Training and assessment against the national units of competency Possession of educational and technical qualification for the auditing of medium and high risk levels Possession of appropriate competencies for auditing of high risk activities and complex processes Regulatory food safety auditor code of conduct Application of pre-approval additional provisions Food Regulator assessment of auditor competency The food safety auditor approval process Terms of an auditor s approval Auditor register Mutual recognition Managing the audit process Inspection and audit Duties and reporting requirements of regulatory food safety auditors Duties of regulatory food safety auditors Reporting requirements for regulatory food safety auditors The audit process Documentation review Planning the audit Conduct the audit Reporting of audit outcomes Non-conformance categories and reporting Completion of regulatory audits Audit teams Audit allocation The role of the food regulator in the audit process Risk priority classification and audit frequency Managing the approved regulatory food safety auditor Maintain the requirements for approval Conflict of interest Confidentiality Monitoring the activity of approved regulatory food safety auditors Appeals, complaints and disputes Auditor disciplinary procedures Insurance and indemnity Certificates of approval Auditing of food businesses that operate from more than one site Summary 36 Appendix A Example of a National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Code of Conduct 37 Appendix B - Sample application form for approval as a regulatory food safety auditor 45 Appendix C Glossary of key ISC terms 52 Appendix D Audit a food safety program guideline competency standard 56 List of tables Table 1 National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework 8 Table 2 Relationship between audit frequency and food business risk classification 28 3 Executive summary The National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Guideline (the Guideline) has been developed to provide guidance to food regulators 1 in how to implement the National Food Safety Audit Policy (the Policy). The Policy was endorsed by the Australia New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council in October 2006, with food regulators given five years to implement it. The Policy may be downloaded from the Food Regulation Secretariat website at All food regulators will be required to establish processes and procedures to meet the requirements of the Policy by 25 October The Guideline aligns elements of the Policy with the industry National Food Safety Auditor (NFSA) Scheme. It does not reflect the Policy in its entirety. The Guideline is a living document because it outlines the recommended minimum elements of a regulatory audit system to demonstrate compliance with the Policy. Food regulators are advised that the Guideline will be periodically updated as new information comes to light. Regulators using this guideline to inform their regulatory audit systems are urged to ensure they are referring to the latest version. Food regulators may choose to implement arrangements beyond those outlined in the Guideline or vary methodologies to better suit their existing audit management systems. However, regulators are recommended to not go below the outcomes outlined in this Guideline. The Guideline is divided into three chapters as follows. Chapter 1 Criteria and approval processes for regulatory food safety auditors This chapter outlines recommended criteria and approval processes for assessing persons who wish to become regulatory food safety auditors. It covers: the National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework the National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Code of Conduct (refer Appendix A) the application of pre-approval additional provisions to those applying to become regulatory food safety auditors assessment of auditor competency maintenance of an auditor register impact of mutual recognition legislation on approved regulatory food safety auditors. processes that food regulators will follow when approving regulatory food safety auditor applications. An example application form 2 is included in Appendix B. N.B. Persons intending to conduct regulatory food safety audits must be assessed as competent to audit against the specific legislation of a food regulator before they may conduct regulatory audits on behalf of 1 Food regulator means those bodies of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Government of New Zealand, or Australian states and territories that are responsible for food safety legislation. These bodies may belong to government departments or may be semi independent of government and, while some may be enforcement agencies, some may delegate enforcement to other bodies such as local governments. Note that local legislation may need to be consulted to accurately define powers and responsibilities. 2 Note this is an example application form only. There is no impost upon food regulators to use this form. 4 that regulator. Further, a person may only be appointed as a regulatory food safety auditor by a food regulator. A food regulator s legislation will be specific, and an approval under one regulator s legislation to audit does not constitute an approval under another regulator s legislation (even within the same Australian State). Chapter 2 Managing the audit process This chapter provides guidance on how to manage the regulatory audit process, covering topics such as audit activities, the duties of regulatory food safety auditors, the audit process, reporting requirements for a regulatory auditor and assigning audit frequencies. Chapter 3 Managing approved regulatory food safety auditors This chapter outlines recommended practices for managing regulatory food safety auditors, covering topics such as managing potential conflicts of interest, maintenance of auditor impartiality and independence, check audits, and on-going mechanisms for the review of regulatory food safety auditor s performance by food regulators. This chapter also covers suggested procedures for maintaining auditor competency and disciplinary procedures against regulatory auditors should they be required. Glossary Refer to Appendix C for key terms used in the Guideline. Scope and objectives The Guideline applies to the regulatory food safety audit system and to the regulatory food safety auditors who audit businesses under that system. The Guideline, by providing advice that may be adopted or incorporated into the audit management systems of food regulators, should assist in harmonising arrangements for the regulatory food safety auditing system across Australia, thereby meeting one of the principal objectives of the Policy. 5 Introduction to the regulatory food safety audit system The regulatory food safety audit system provides an infrastructure for food regulators to monitor the compliance of individual businesses with legislative food safety requirements, through routine audit of a business s food safety arrangement. The role of the regulatory food safety auditor in that system is to conduct regulatory audits of a business s food safety management system to determine whether it complies with the appropriate legislative requirements. The appropriate food regulator may be required to approve the business s system before it is subject to routine regulatory audit, or it may require the business to adopt a recognised system. The food regulator may determine the approval of a business s system through conditions of legislative administration tools such as licensing, accreditation or registration. As part of the regulatory food safety audit process, regulatory food safety auditors are required to identify areas in a business s food safety management system where, in the auditor s opinion, the business is unable to display sufficient evidence that it is compliant with the appropriate legislation (i.e. identify nonconformances). The identification of a non-conformance should prompt the business to instigate corrective action with the auditor or the food regulator (depending on the severity of the breach) to address the non-conformance. Responsibility for food safety and liability Responsibility for the regulatory food safety audit system is shared between food regulators, regulatory food safety auditors and food businesses. Food regulators (including primary production and processing agencies, health departments and local government) are responsible for food regulation under existing state and territory food acts and other legislative instruments. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is responsible for monitoring the compliance of imported food with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). Under state and territory food acts, food regulators may choose to delegate some of these responsibilities to local government. The extent of delegation may differ between food regulators (even within the same Australian state). However, where delegation occurs, the term food regulator 3 only applies to the delegated body if it is a government or semi-government entity. It does not apply to a non-government entity, individual or body (e.g. third party food safety auditor). The specific duties of a regulatory food safety auditor will be described in the appropriate food regulator s legislation. Annex B, Section 67 of the Model Food Provisions sets out example duties for a regulatory food safety auditor that may be adopted or incorporated into state and territory food legislation. The duties of a food safety auditor as outlined in Section 67 of the Model Food Provisions are to: conduct audits of any food safety programs required to be in place by the regulations conduct any necessary follow up action, including further audits, as necessary, to determine if action has been taken to remedy any deficiencies in a food safety program as identified during an audit 3 Regulators using this document to inform their audit management systems are urged to consult their local legislation for further information on powers and responsibilities. 6 conduct assessments of food businesses to ascertain their compliance with requirements of the Food Safety Standards submit audit reports (including non-conformances) to the food regulator and the food business, in accordance with the stipulated requirements. Where non-conformances are identified during a regulatory audit, it is likely that the relevant legislation will require the auditor to outline in the audit report the nature and extent of the non-conformance. Should an auditor consider any matter encountered during a regulatory audit to pose an imminent and serious risk to the safety or suitability of food intended for sale, the legislation is likely to require that auditor to notify the appropriate food regulator within 24 hours. 1. Criteria and approval processes for regulatory food safety auditors The criteria and approval processes described in this section are the recommended minimum that regulators should implement when approving people as regulatory food safety auditors. 1.1 National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework The National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework, as approved by the Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC), describes the following: auditor competencies (national units of competency). technical and educational qualifications specialised auditing competencies witness audits legislative assessment regulatory food safety auditor code of conduct application of pre-approval additional provisions. Table 1 outlines the national regulatory food safety auditor framework. 7 Table 1 - National Regulatory Food Safety Auditor Framework High risk activities and complex processes requiring individual endorsements Audit competency Education and technical qualifications Other requirements Food service, whereby potentially hazardous food is served to vulnerable populations Catering operations serving food to the general public Auditor competency: FDFFSCOMA FDFFSCFSAA FDFFSCHZA Certificate IV or higher in food science or related field (including 40 hours of food microbiology). Competency examination to be completed during on-site audit (High risk business). Knowledge of jurisdictional legislation and regulator s system. Applicant to sign regulatory food safety auditor code of conduct. Applicant to complete signed declaration. Suitability checks conducted by the food regulator if required. Cook chill processes Auditor competency as above plus specialised competency FDFFSCC4A. As above As above Heat treatment processes Producing manufactured (RTE) and uncooked comminuted fermented meat (UCFM) products Raw ready-to-eat seafood. Raw oysters and bivalves production and processing. Auditor competency as above plus specialised competency: FDFFSHT4A. Auditor competency as above plus specialised competency: FDFFSME4A. Auditor competency as above plus specialised competency: FDFFSBM4A. As above As above As above As above As above As above 8 Medium risk Auditor competency: FDFFSCOMA FDFFSCFSAA FDFFSCHZA Certificate IV or higher in food science or related field (including 40 hours of food microbiology). Competency examination to be completed during on-site audit (Medium risk business). Knowledge of jurisdictional legislation and regulator s system. Applicant to sign regulatory food safety auditor code of conduct. Applicant to complete signed declaration. Suitability checks conducted by the food regulator if required. Low risk Auditor competency: FDFFSACA 4 FDFFSCOMA FDFFSCFSAA, FDFFSCHZA Not applicable Competency examination to be completed during on-site audit. Knowledge of jurisdictional legislation and regulator s system. Applicant to sign regulatory food safety auditor code of conduct. Applicant to complete signed declaration. Suitability checks conducted by the food regulator if required. Explanatory notes 4 This competency may be superseded by a person who has already obtained competency FDFFSCFSAA 9 i) Low risk is mainly for the purposes of training. ii) All activities to be audited that do not fall with the identified high risk areas will be placed in the medium risk level until such time as an assessment is made to determine which level they ought to fit. a) Low risk The following are the recommended minimum requirements to be applied when a food regulator assesses a regulatory food safety auditor application at the entry level (low risk). Auditor competency (low risk) auditor competency units required as listed in Table 1, auditors competent to undertake systems and compliance audits. a. Statement of attainment or RPL assessment against the following competencies: i) FDFFSACA 5 - Assess compliance with food safety programs ii) FDFFSCOMA - Communicate and negotiate to conduct food safety audits iii) FDFFSCFSAA - Conduct food safety audits iv) FDFFSCHZA - Identify, evaluate and control food safety hazards. Regulator s system requirements - knowledge of jurisdictional legislation and regulator s system. Pre-approval additional provisions - The applicant has signed a code of conduct, completed and signed a declaration (to verify the accuracy and integrity of information provided) and has been subject to further suitability checks if required. Legislative assessment, inclusive of witness audit This audit should only be conducted by a regulatory food safety auditor (approved by the appropriate regulator) who at the very least is competent at the low risk level. FDFFSACA - Assess compliance with food safety program This unit covers the following elements: audit planning (includes defining audit scope) review and assessment of food safety programs (includes pre-requisite programs) review and assessment of the implementation of food safety programs (gathering evidence to verify that the food safety program and pre-requisite programs are under control) management of the audit process (comparing the audit process against the audit plan) consolidation of audit outcomes (gathering audit evidence to identify any potential areas of nonconformance, preparing audit reports) confirmation and closing-out of corrective actions (review implementation of corrective actions against food safety program). A practical assessment will be performed as part of this unit and will assess the auditor s ability to: Confirm appropriate food safety program and/or template Applicants are required to confirm that the business s food safety program and/or template is appropriate for the activities of the business under audit. Review food safety program records 5 This competency may be superseded by a person who holds competency FDFFSCFSAA. 10 Applicants are required to review food safety program records to review the compliance of programs with their validated template and/or previous approval by the appropriate food regulator. Collect and verify information Applicants are assessed on their ability to: collect information relevant to the audit scope and objectives only use verifiable information as audit evidence when required, confirm appropriateness of corrective actions for previous non-conformances appropriately record audit evidence analyse information to confirm that the program is consistently and effectively implemented gather evidence from sources that include, but are not limited to: o interviews with employees and other persons o observation of activities o documents, records and data summaries o auditee s sampling procedures o customer feedback Identify variations of food safety program and/or template Applicants are assessed on their ability to identify circumstances where variation or customisation of the template or program under audit requires further validation. Prepare audit conclusions Applicants are assessed on their ability to: review audit findings against audit objectives ensure audit conclusions are supported by objective evidence note the extent of conformity of the food safety management system under audit with the audit criteria note the effectiveness of the business s food safety management system with the appropriate legislation determine the effectiveness of the business s internal management review process that monitors the on-going effectiveness of its food safety management system. FDFFSCOMA - Communicate and negotiate to conduct food safety audits This unit covers the following elements: development of communication plans to support audit processes selection and use of appropriate communication methods for conducting audits (communications must respect anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and privacy legislation) negotiation skills to achieve agreed audit outcomes (including issue resolution strategies) confidentiality needs and expectations of food businesse
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