Food Safety & Covid-19

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Food Scheme Risk Assessments for certificate extension/audit postponement:

What does the risk assessment entail?

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The risk assessment is an interview between DNV GL and the representatives of the site. The aim of the risk assessment is to ascertain the continued operation of the food safety management system to support the production of safe food – with an emphasis on emergency preparedness for Covid 19 and changes to the business/operation.

What is the process?

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  • DNV GL complete a risk assessment to determine if the audit can go ahead as normal – if not, we will contact you to arrange the risk assessment interview.
  • This is an interview which is performed on a virtual platform like Skype for Business or Microsoft TEAMS where we are able to talk and share documents. You will receive an agenda so the required site representative may be present.
  • We recommend using your virtual meeting platform so that DNV GL are the only external invitee and allows you to invite to the meeting the relevant persons whether they are home working or in the office.
  • At the end of the meeting DNV GL will complete the scheme owners report template and submit for approval for extension of certificate or postponement of audit.

When does the risk assessment need to be performed?

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As your audit is scheduled, we will look to do the risk assessment on the 1st day of the scheduled audit.

Who pays for the risk assessment

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The certified site will be required to pay for the risk assessment – for sites of low complexity (less than 3 HACCP plans) this will be 0.5 day, for more complexity sites with large number of HACCP plans this will be 1-day charge.

Is the time for the risk assessment deducted from the time for the full audit?

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No the time for the risk assessment, which is a requirement of the scheme owner is additional time – as its purpose is to assess the current situation to allow the extension or postponement to be approved. This is not an audit but a risk assessment and review. 

Is there a template?

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Yes there are templates issued by the scheme owners that need to be completed. Here are the templates for BRCGS and FSSC.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

If an audit is not affected by Covid-19, are companies still expected to do a risk assessment to show at the next audit?

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Yes, as part of your emergency preparedness response. This is a critical situation, and you have reviewed this and there is some form of risk assessment. The auditor would be asking to see what you had documented as any risks due to Covid-19.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted in food or via farm animals?

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Review of information from a number of sources such as EFSA, FDA and other national bodies, there is no evidence to assume that food is a likely source or rote of transmission for the virus.

What is the expectation on completed internal audits given so many manufacturing internal auditors are working from home?

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As a site who operates a FSMS, a key element to demonstrate that the FSMS is implemented and operational, is the performance of verification activities such as internal audit. The scheme allows you to risk assess the internal audit activities need to confirm things are in order. There is an expectation of scheme owners, that at this time internal audits may be increased to confirm that all requirements for food safety are being maintained.

How to manage the absence of records at companies?

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If the site is operational then there is no reason for there to be absence of records to support food safety. It is imperative that supporting records for food safety are maintained at all times whether in Covid-19 crisis mode or not.

Are all new GFSI audits impossible?

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No, if you are not currently certified, it is not now possible to undergo your initial certification audit which needs to be on site.

Will this risk assessment be used to extend the certificate for additional customer requirements (e.g. McDonald SQMS bolt-on)?

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Information available confirms that the risk assessment will allow the postponement of customer bolt-on audits such as SQMS.

Transition to FSSC v5.0 - when can this occur?

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If it is not possible to perform the face to face audit – then transition to FSSC v 5.0 can not be given until that audit can occur. For extension of certificates via the risk assessment interview, this will be given against FSSC 4.1. At the next face to face audit then the transition audit will occur.

How does Covid-19 crisis affect the supply chain?

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The expectation is that there could be issues experienced in the availability of materials in the supply chain. This is one of the areas covered at the risk assessment to ascertain how the manufacturing site is assessing and anticipating the situation, where are the vulnerabilities and the actions being taken – approval of new suppliers, sources of materials.

What should we be doing in order to maintain our FSMS in the event that production is closed down?

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Response to this question from the scheme owners when asked: Scheme owners are being flexible. Potentially sites may still get a certificate extension after May if they really can’t provide anyone or complete the risk assessment for audit postponement or certificate extension before then but their onsite audit will be due as soon as the site is accessible and the certificate extension will be a maximum of 6 months from the original expiry date.
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