How to plan and conduct an effective internal audit.

Planning and conducting an internal audit can be a stressful time for auditors. Many first time auditors wonder:

  • Where do I start?
  • How much time will I need
  • What do I need to audit?
  • Who will I interview?

 Following a step-by-step process goes a long way to alleviate this stress.

 STEP 1 – Type of audit

As an internal auditor you will need to know what type of audit you are going to conduct. For example:

  • Audit of organisational processes as part of business improvement
  • Audit of compliance to Australian, international standards, legislation such as the Food Act

The amount of time required to plan and prepare will vary considerably depending on the audit type and its requirements.

STEP 2 – Where do I focus my audit?

Most organisations have an ‘audit schedule’ that describes when each area or activity within an organisaation is to be audited. An effective auditor will look to become familiar with the procedures and activities in the area to be audited. A review of the flow diagrams, hazard audit tables, site plans, relevant procedures, and previous audit reports will provide information on the nature and scale of activities carried out. This will help an effective auditor target the audit activities, records, equipment and processes.

You may also wish to consider:

  • Customer feedback
  • Supplier performance
  • Re-work and downgrade
  • Corrective actions and non-conformances
  • Previous audit reports

Finding out where this information is kept and speaking with the staff responsible for a process is a starting point in developing the auditor’s understanding of the ‘big picture’ – that is, how the organisation operates, its risks and controls. This will also assist you in determining your objective for the audit.

STEP 3 – Putting a plan together

As if the above wasn’t enough to think about, you as an auditor now have to consider how you will manage your time during the audit. This is referred to as an audit plan and can be as simple or as complex as you and/or your organisation requires. With this in mind, your plan of activities can be via an electronic appointment, email, formal document attached to an email etc. Some points of information the person being audited will want to know is:

  • Date of the audit
  • Time of the audit (especially how long)
  • What are you auditing them against (organisation procedures, HACCP, Food Standards Code
  • The food business processes and locations you will be auditing
  • The name of the auditor
  • Records, reports etc. you would like them to have available as evidence
STEP 4 – Choosing the day of the audit

When choosing the day and time of the audit, it is a good idea to find out what else is going on in the business. For instance you might need to consider when external audits (certification/accreditation, regulatory, financial) being conducted, peak times/shut downs and end of financial year a good time to audit?

These points need to be considered to ensure that staff are available and attentive so you can get the best out of the audit.

STEP 5 – Conducting the audit

By doing your homework and reading the relevant procedures you will be well prepared for the audit. From this understanding, you will be able to ask questions a way that makes sense to the person being audited.

When ready to begin the audit you will need to hold an ‘entry interview’ where you explain to the supervisor / manager of the area about the audit process and answer any question they may have.

During the audit it is likely you would review:

  • the facilities  and equipment where food is handled and processed
  • records e.g. food receipt, cleaning, thermometer calibration, pest control, refrigerator temperature checks and training
  • that digital thermometers are working and accurate
  • that food grade sanitiser is available and is used.
  • how allergens are managed
  • that food handlers have adequate skills and knowledge in food safety.

Internal auditors are generally free to talk with a good cross-section of staff involved in the process being audited. Speaking solely with management will not give you a good perspective on what is happening.

You will conclude your audit with an exit interview where you provide feedback. Remember your role as the auditor is to collect information and evidence then report it back to the decision makers within your organisation

STEP 6 – Audit Reports

A good report is one that attracts the intended reader’s attention.  Most organisations have audit report templates in place with main categories of information required listed. A good report enables a person who was not present during the audit to understand what was audited and where improvements may be required. A tip is to keep it simple and easy to read. In our case we want our reports to be read by top management. It is important that senior management see your reports as a valuable resource.


HACCP certification for the Pest Management Industry

Food Safety Plus offers HACCP certification for the Pest Management Industry.

The Food Act requires that each food premises has effective pest control measures. This is not a new concept – the significance of pests in the food industry has long been understood and appreciated. Pest control is an inescapable part of any food safety and HACCP considerations that a food business may make.

The following outlines some of the more common situations which will have to be managed by the pest control industry:

  • the need for a clear explanation to management of the food business about the treatments to be carried out and agreement reached about their suitability, location, potential for causing food hazard and any action which may need to be taken by the food business
  • the need for clear advice to the management of the food business about the types of pests identified and their possible effect on food safety
  • restrictions on use of materials restrictions on entry times to food business
  • regular and systematic cleaning by the food business could make it more difficult to detect, trace and identify pests possible destruction of chemical treatments by cleaning materials
  • need to account for all preparations when any specific treatment is completed
  • documentation and record keeping

Much of this is not new to the pest control industry especially to those who operate with or are familiar with Integrated Pest Management and the safe use of hazardous chemicals. HACCP and the safe use of chemicals require documented work processes, so it means that most pest controllers are already aware of systematic controls. Therefore HACCP principles certification can be easily and readily adopted in pest control industry.

HACCP Certification offers pest controller industry an opportunity to work in partnership with food businesses. By making both industries aware of each other’s priorities and systems, it will prove to be a positive benefit for the consumer by the production of safer food.


Food Trivia – fun food “facts”

Food Trivia

Here is a collection of amazing and interesting facts about food so you can impress your friends.

Ask them, did you know…

1.       almonds are a member of the peach family.

2.       Americans eat approximately 10kg of tomatoes yearly, over half of which is in the form of Ketchup and tomato sauce.

3.       apple is made of 25% air, that is why they float.

4.       apples, onions, and potatoes all have the same taste? Try the test: Pinch your nose and take a bite out of each.

5.       avocado has the highest protein and oil content of all fruits, but most of this is the healthier unsaturated type.

6.       beer drunk with dinner works better than drinking red wine, gin or sparkling mineral water in controlling homocysteine, a blood factor that promotes heart disease by boosting blood levels of vitamin B6.

7.       beer is a popular ingredient in batter for deep fried foods since the protein in beer provides browning and produces a light, crisp, dry batter when cooked.

8.       beer of 375mL has fewer calories than two slices of bread and contains no fat.

9.       birds eat half their own body weight in food each day! So, why do people say that a poor eater “eats like a bird”?

10.    biscuit is a word derived from Latin via Middle French and means “twice cooked”.

11.    black-eyed peas are really beans.

12.    blenders were invented by Stephen Poplawski when in 1922 he became the first person to put a spinning blade at the bottom of a small electric appliance to make Horlick’s malted milk shakes.

13.    brown sugar is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar with some residual molasses or produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.

14.    butter and margarine are similar in calories, the difference is that butter is higher in saturated fats, while margarine generally has more unsaturated fats.

15.    canola is derived from “Canadian oil, low acid”.

16.    cabbage is 91% water.

17.    capers are the unopened green flower buds of a wild and cultivated bush which is related to the cabbage family.

18.    capsaicin, which makes hot peppers “hot” to the human mouth, is best neutralized by casein, the main protein found in milk.

19.    carrots were originally purple in colour, changing in the 17th Century to orange with newer varieties.

20.    celery requires more calories to eat and digest than it contains.

21.    cereal as a word is derived from the name of the Roman goddess Ceres, protector of crops.

22.    cherries are a member of the rose family.

23.    chewing gum may keep you slim by boosting the metabolic rate by about 20%.

24.    chewing gum stimulates signals in the learning centre of the brain and thus help save memory as you age.

25.    chilli heat is measured in Scoville units, named after the pharmacist Thomas Scoville.

26.    chocolate bloom occurs when the cocoa butter has separated causing it to rise to the surface of the chocolate and is a result of the chocolate being stored in too humid or too warm a temperature.

27.    chocolate is a particularly good source of magnesium, potassium and calcium. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. On the down side it contains caffeine and has a high fat level.

28.    chocolate may have its romantic effect due to the effects on the brain of a naturally occurring substance called phenylethylamine which enhances endorphin levels, increase libido and act a natural antidepressant.

29.    coca-cola was originally green.

30.    coffee is the most recognized smell in the world.

31.    coffee originated from the Arabic word “qahwah”.

32.    chicken is one of the few things that we eat before it’s born and after it’s dead.

33.    corn always has an even number of ears.

34.    corn makes up about 8% of the weight in a box of corn flakes.

35.    cranberries are sorted for ripeness by bouncing them; a fully ripened cranberry can be dribbled like a basketball.

36.    doughnuts were originally made of raised dough with a nut in the centre.

37.    eggs contain most of the recognised vitamins with the exception of vitamin C.

38.    eggplants are actually fruits, and classified botanically as berries.

39.    fish consumption may be more than brain food but also help protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration, a potential cause of blindness.

40.    flamingos owe their pink or reddish colour to the rich sources of carotenoid pigments in the algae and small crustaceans that the birds eat.

41.    fortune cookies are not Chinese, they were invented in Los Angeles around 1920.

42.    gelato comes from the Italian word gelare which means to freeze; it is made from cow milk and its rich taste comes from being denser (30% air whereas ice cream is around 50%).

43.    Gerber’s top selling baby food in Japan is sardine dish.

44.    Grapefruit got its name because they often grow in bunches on the tree.  Typically, fruits are scattered throughout the tree.

45.    Guinness beer, after pouring, produces bubbles that sink to the bottom. The bubbles go up more easily in the centre of the beer glass than on the sides because of drag from the walls. As the bubbles go up, they raise the beer, and the beer has to spill back, and it does. It runs down the sides of the glass carrying the bubbles – particularly little bubbles – with it, downward to the bottom of the glass

46.    hamburgers were invented in 1900 by Louis Lassen. He ground beef, broiled it, and served it between two pieces of toast.

47.    Heinz Catsup leaves the bottle traveling at 40 kilometres per year.

48.    himalayan gogi berry contains, weight for weight, more iron than steak, more beta carotene than carrots, more vitamin C than oranges.

49.    honey is the only edible food for humans that will never go bad.

50.    horseradish was the first product sold by Heinz in 1869.

51.    humble pie comes from the food “umble pie”, a pie consisting of the innards of deer, which very poor people in Medieval England ate.

52.    Kopi Luwa from Indonesia is the world’s costliest coffee, at US$350 a kilogram, thanks to a unique taste and aroma enhanced by the digestive system of droppings of palm civets, nocturnal tree-climbing creatures about the size of a large house cat, which eats ripe robusta coffee cherries for treats. The coffee beans, which are found inside of the cherries, remain intact after passing through the animal. Plantation workers track them and scoop their precious poop.

53.    lemons contain more sugar than strawberries.

54.    lettuce is the only vegetable or fruit which is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh.

55.    lobster was so common in Maine in the 18th Century that it was used as fertiliser.

56.    margarine was first called Butterine in England when it was introduced.

57.    mayonnaise will kill lice and also condition your hair.

58.    Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny) was allergic to carrots.

59.    milk from reindeer has more fat than cow milk.

60.    milk is the new diet drink since low-fat, high-calcium dairy foods may burn off fat since extra calcium increases metabolism.

61.    nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

62.    olive oil has lots of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory activity to fight rheumatoid arthritis.

63.    olive oil is an oil extracted from the fruit of the olive tree.

64.    olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be created simply by pressing the raw material.

65.    orange does not rhyme with any other word.

66.    organ meats were known as garbage in the 16th Century, the term then used for the innards of an animal.

67.    parmigiano is a natural source of and has a high concentration of Monosodium glutamate (MSG), giving it the unami taste, found as small white crystals formed during maturation.

68.    peanuts are legumes and not a tree nut.

69.    peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

70.    pear is a fruit that ripens from the inside out.

71.    Pepsi-Cola was invented by Caleb Bradham in 1898. Originally called “Brad’s Drink,” the beverage was first marketed as a digestive aid and energy booster. It was renamed Pepsi-Cola because of its pepsin and kola nut content.

72.    percentage alcohol in a bottle of liquor is estimated by dividing the proof by two.

73.    pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality.

74.    pizza originated in the early 1700’s in Naples, Italy.

75.    pizza toppings of squid are the most popular variety in Japan.

76.    Popsicle were invented by an 11 year old, Frank Epperson when he left his soda water drink with a stirring stick overnight on his porch.

77.    pound cake was so named because of its original proportions of 1 lb (500g) each of butter, sugar, and flour.

78.    puffed grain were invented by Alexander Anderson in 1902. Unlike popcorn, a type of corn that naturally pops or puffs up with heat, puffed cereal or snacks are formed by exploding whole grain kernels under high pressure and steam.

79.    raisin in a glass of champagne will keep floating to the top and sinking to the bottom.

80.    refried beans aren’t really what they seem. Although their name seems like a reasonable translation of Spanish frijoles refritos, the fact is that these beans aren’t fried twice. In Spanish, refritos literally means “well-fried,” not “re-fried.”

81.    rice paper does not contain one grain of rice – its made from either Rice straw, Bamboo, Hemp, Mulberry leaves, Wingceltis or Gampi.

82.    sandwiches are named after John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92), for whom beef was placed between 2 sliced pieces of bread so that he could stay at the gambling table without interruptions for meals.

83.    shredded wheat was the first breakfast cereal to ever be produced.

84.    sliced bread was introduced by Otto Frederick Rohwedder who invented the bread slicer, which he started working on in 1912. At first, Rohwedder came up with the idea of a device that held the slices together with hat pins (not a success). In 1928, he designed a machine 1.52m long by 0.90m high that sliced and wrapped the bread in waxed paper to prevent the sliced bread from going stale. On July 7, 1928, the first loaves of sliced bread were made by the near bankrupt baker Frank Bench.

85.    soup has its origin as a word from ‘sop’ or ‘sup’, meaning the slice of bread on which the broth was poured.

86.    soy flour and soya flour are richer in calcium and iron than wheat flour, gluten-free and high in protein. Soy flour is ground from raw soybeans; soya flour from lightly toasted soybeans.

87.    spilling salt is considered good luck in Japan.

88.    strawberries are the only fruit which has its seeds on its outer skin.

89.    Swiss cheese ferments with bacteria generating gas which bubbles through the cheese leaving holes; cheese-makers call them “eyes.”

90.    tea strengthens bones because isoflavonoid chemicals in tea may have a weak estrogenic effect, reducing bone deterioration and osteoporosis risk.

91.    ten gallon hats only hold about 6 pints or 2.8 Litres.

92.    toasters for bread using electricity were invented by Crompton and Company, Leeds, England in 1893; the first automatic pop-up electric toaster was designed in 1919 by Charles Strite.

93.    tomato used to be considered poisonous.

94.    Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.

95.    traditional Italian food is an anagram of radiation, toil, fat and oil.

96.    TV dinners were introduced in 1954 by Omaha-based C.A. Swanson and Sons featuring roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes and peas, selling for 98 cents.

97.    Vegemite is an Australian icon which was developed in 1922 by Dr. Cyril Callister. He took used brewer’s yeast and blended the yeast extract with ingredients like celery, onion, salt, and a few secret ingredients to make this paste rich in B vitamins; it was developed for the Fred Walker Company which is now Kraft Foods.

98.    white chocolate is not a true chocolate because it contains no chocolate liquor, instead its made of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin and vanilla.

99.    white shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and earlobes while brown eggs are produced by

100.hens with red feathers and earlobes; the colour has no relationship to the nutritional quality or taste of the eggs.

101.Wrigley’s gum was the first product to have a bar code.

102.yelling for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days produces enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee





World Health Day

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is recently promoted World Health Day with the theme “From Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe.” WHO estimates that unsafe food is linked to the deaths of 2 million people annually – including many children. Food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances can cause more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancers, a major health concern for all people on the planet.
Even though our food supply in the Australia is among the safest in the world, the Commonwealth Department of Health estimates that there are about 5.4 million annual cases of foodborne illness. Each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 125 deaths. The people most likely to become ill from unsafe food, and to be hospitalized or die as a result, are older Australian, very young children, pregnant women, and people with illness or medical treatments that affect their immune systems, such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and organ transplants.
Foodborne illnesses occur because of environmental pollution or mishandling somewhere along the food chain from farm to table. Food may become unsafe because of contaminants in soil or water or inadequate safety measures in processing, transportation, or storage. It can also occur because of unsafe handling by workers in the food industry, or by consumers preparing food at home. Ensuring the safety of our food supply requires a farm-to-table approach. This means we are all a part of the food chain—including farmers, processors, transporters, retailers and food service workers, and consumers—and have responsibility for minimizing the risk of food contamination and helping to lower the danger of foodborne illness.

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