SQF Site Inspection vs Internal Audit

Site Inspection vs Internal Audit Requirements

Let’s talk about SQF 2.5.4 requirements under SQF Version 9 code -2.5.4 Internal Audits and Inspections:

The items relevant to the internal audit are bolded and the items relevant to the site inspection are italicized. The methods and responsibility for scheduling and conducting internal audits to verify the effectiveness of the SQF System shall be documented and implemented. Internal audits shall be conducted in full and at least annually. The methods applied shall ensure:
i. All applicable requirements of the SQF Food Safety Code: Food Manufacturing are audited per the SQF audit checklist or a similar tool;
ii. Objective evidence is recorded to verify compliance and/or non-compliance;
iii. Corrective and preventative actions of deficiencies identified during the internal audits are undertaken; and
iv. Audit results are communicated to relevant management personnel and staff responsible for implementing and verifying corrective and preventative actions. Staff conducting internal audits shall be trained and competent in internal audit procedures. Where practical, staff conducting internal audits shall be independent of the function being audited. Regular inspections of the site and equipment shall be planned and carried out to verify Good Manufacturing Practices and facility and equipment maintenance are compliant with the SQF Food Safety Code: Food Manufacturing. The site shall:

i. Take corrections or corrective and preventative action; and
ii. Maintain records of inspections and any corrective actions are taken. Records of internal audits and inspections and any corrective and preventative actions taken as a result of internal audits shall be recorded as per 2.5.3. Changes implemented from internal audits that have an impact on the site’s ability to deliver safe food shall require a review of applicable aspects of the SQF System (refer to


Site Inspection vs Internal Audit -Key Differences

So, is the site or plant inspection and internal audit the same?

There are lots of confusion regarding the site inspection and internal audit. We are here, today, to clarify these confusions.

Plant inspection looks at the overall ability of the facility to continue to be suitable as a food production, handling and storage facility -that’s why site inspection mainly focuses on the building, equipment and exterior building, and to a small extend employees practices only.

A site inspection can be a part of an internal audit, where you are confirming your building conditions and employee behaviours while you are doing your site check. Site inspections cannot cover the internal audit entirely.

Internal audit looks at your overall food safety management systems and site inspection is just a small part of the internal audit.

Site Inspection vs Internal Audit -Who is Responsible?

There are a lot of debates on who is responsible when doing the work! We want to vouch for our SQF Practitioners and Quality Managers out there and say that it is the food safety team’s responsibility. Remember, it is team works, that helps build the food safety culture. Quality Managers ain’t the only person responsible.

So, what does a Quality Manager or SQF Practitioner is responsible for?

They are responsible for

  1. Provide training for the food safety team members and/or internal auditors to conduct the site inspection or internal audit
  2. Provide checklists for the food safety team and/or internal audit team to conduct the site inspection and audits
  3. Oversee completion of site inspection and internal audit -that is communicating and following up with other departments to close the deviations.
What’s the benefit of having your food safety team involved?

Your food safety team member may be busy or they may question why they are involved. There are many hidden benefits that site inspection and internal audit can bring to your team and overall, the food safety program

  1. Know what is acceptable and not acceptable for food safety
  2. Learn to be a food safety expert and to raise questions
  3. Team building opportunities

Now, there are many ways that you can make this works for your team. We just love these strategies because it helps to build the team and food safety culture.

Let’s go big and talk about management and what is management’s role with this?

We know that our food safety programs don’t work without management support! If you are reading this article and you are part of the senior management, your role is to oversee –

  1. Oversee that site inspection and internal audit completed on time. Ask to see a report summary during your SQF Management meeting. Question pending items and why they are pending.
  2. Provide resources, time and support for site inspection and internal audit
  3. Be present during the internal audit (and if you got more time, site inspection) closing meeting
  4. Provide guidance and directions

Site Inspection vs Internal Audit -How can you help?

There are many ways SFPM Consulting helps you get started with your Site Inspection or Internal Audit Process so that you can get rid of the excuse of “no time” or “lack of expertise”

  • Get an SQF Site Inspection and Internal Audit, to get started -it is fully guided so your internal auditor knows what to do, what to ask and what to look for, for each checklist. No more wondering around not knowing what to do!
  • Build checklist and programs for site inspection and/or internal audit
  • Site Inspection and/or Internal Audit training (on-demand, Zoom, or on-site training)
  • Show the team how to conduct a site inspection and/or internal audit
  • Review report

These are great ways for our expert consultant to transfer their expertise on how to properly identify deviations and close them before your actual audit and/or inspections.

Discover possibilities. Book a complimentary Strategy Call here

Be audit-ready! Build that food safety culture!

If you are looking for more internal audit information, check out our past article here.

Better Compliance with SQF Internal Audit

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