So, you’re thinking about changing your career and exploring the exciting world of the food safety auditor? If only you know where to start… Although Google is a very helpful tool it is practically impossible to find information with a clear qualification process or “map” that shows how to get started as a food safety auditor.
This article aims to clarify the process and hopefully shed some light on what appears to be a well-kept secret. But before I get into the details I have to emphasize that certification bodies may have slightly different qualification processes but most will follow these steps for GFSI standards such as FSSC and BRC:
Depending on the food sector in which you would like to work you will need to have a degree in a food related or bio-science discipline. For individuals who are interested in performing food packaging audits the requirements are slightly different and include specific training and qualifications relating to packaging technology.
Any individual contemplating a career shift will need to demonstrate that they have at least 2 years’ full time working experience in a quality assurance or food safety function in the food manufacturing industry. This is critical as the sectors you can audit in are usually linked to your work experience. This is often an area which poses a stumbling block.
Over and above the tertiary qualification, you will also need to complete the following training courses:
Needless to say, these training requirements must be supported by some form of competency assessment – usually in the form of an exam. It is also a good idea to ensure the course you select is recognized by the auditing profession as this is usually a significant investment in your career plan.
The final aspect relates to actual practical experience in an auditing environment. For FSSC this amounts to at least ten (10) audit days and five (5) ISO 22000 or GFSI recognized scheme audits relevant to the specific industry sector including at least one (1) FSSC 22000 audit.
I suppose this would be the a little more difficult to achieve considering that you may be required to participate in a few audits as an “observer” before you will be included as a co-auditor and allocated specific aspects to audit under the watchful eye of a Lead Auditor. As you become more confident (and competent) you will eventually be subject to a “full witness” audit where you will take over the function of Lead Auditor and be observed throughout the entire process before you will be officially signed off. This process is usually only possible under the watchful eye of the auditing company anyway.
Food safety auditors never stop learning! Over and above the fact thatAlthough you are exposed to wonderful learning experiences on a day-to-day basis, you will also have to ensure that your qualification remains current. Most certification bodies help their auditors to stay up-to-date and have training programmes in place to ensure that the latest information regarding updates to standards or technological developments are shared and understood.
Some standard owners (such as FSC, BRC and IFS) require that auditors are trained for at least 16 hours per year. Certification bodies may plan auditor “calibration” sessions which ensure that all of their auditors share the same interpretation of the various standards and apply the same thought processes.
Look out for part 2: Why you should opt for a registered lead auditor course?
For more detailed information on auditor competence you can visit this link for FSSC auditor competence requirements: