Third party audits
How often will my business be audited?
All meat and seafood processing facilities are required to undertake third-party audits. The frequency of audits for licensees is set in line with the level of risk inherent in the product processed at the facility. The greater the assessed risk, the greater the number of audits required.
The following licence categories are required to undertake audits on an annual basis.
- Seafood processing facilities
- Game meat processing facility (harvest vehicle)
- Game meat processing facility (field depot)
Food safety programs for wildcatch and aquaculture seafood businesses are reviewed by PrimeSafe.
The following licence categories are required to undertake audits on a biannual basis (i.e. two audits per licence period). Audits should be spread out evenly throughout the licence period.
- Retail butcher shop processing fresh meat
- Further meat processing facility processing/storing fresh meat
- Poultry processing facility
- Inedible rendering facility
- Prime tallow processing facility
- Pet food establishment
- Seafood processing facility processing meat and/or poultry
The following licence categories are required to undertake audits on a quarterly basis (i.e. four audits per licence period). Audits should be spread out evenly throughout the licence period.
- Retail butcher shop manufacturing smallgoods
- Further meat processing facility manufacturing smallgoods
- Abattoir (not supervised by DAFF)
- Game meat processing facility (premises)
- Pet meat processing facility
- Seafood processing facility manufacturing smallgoods
What is a non-conformance?
Where a non-conformance issue is identified at audit, PrimeSafe will adjust the frequency of audits to ensure that the non-conformance is addressed.
Non-conformances are classified as follows:
A minor non-conformance is a low risk situation: A non-conformance with the requirements of the standard (including a non-conformance with the licensee’s documented management system and food safety plan) where the potential impact of the non-conformance is not likely to compromise meat or seafood safety.
A major non-conformance is a potential high risk situation: A non-conformance with the requirements of the standard (including a non-conformance with the licensee’s documented management system and food safety plan) where the potential impact is likely to compromise meat or seafood safety if no remedial action is taken to correct the non-conformance within a specified period.
A critical non-conformance is a high risk situation: A non-conformance with the requirements of the standard (including a non-conformance with the licensee’s documented management system and food safety plan) where the potential impact of the non-conformance is of substantial and/or immediate significance to meat or seafood warranting immediate corrective action. A critical non-conformance is raised when specified procedures mandated through PrimeSafe licence conditions are not complied with.
What is the Reduced Audit Program?
The reduced audit program rewards licensees that consistently comply with food safety requirements and represent a lower food safety risk.
A PrimeSafe licensed Meat Processing Facility or Seafood Business can halve the number of scheduled verification audits if they can demonstrate superior performance through the effective management of their food safety program.
Applying for the program
A PrimeSafe licensed Meat Processing Facility or Seafood Business should follow these steps to apply for a reduced audit program:
1. Submit a written request to PrimeSafe
Once PrimeSafe receives the application, it will be reviewed along with all audit reports related to the business completed in the past 12 months.
A licensee is automatically disqualified from a reduced audit program if, in the past 12 months, they have had:
- a major or critical non-conformance identified,
- a PrimeSafe sanction, or
- an unsuccessful reduced audit program application.
2. Sign a contract with PrimeSafe for a system audit conducted by PrimeSafe
This contract and fee will initiate an unannounced full system audit of the licensee’s quality assurance program and an inspection of the facility by PrimeSafe.
3. Have PrimeSafe conduct the audit and inspection of the facility:
During the audit and inspection, PrimeSafe will evaluate:
- the licensee’s ability to self-manage quality assurance
- the food safety procedures in place, e.g. internal audits and management of high-risk areas
PrimeSafe will then notify the licensee if their application is successful.
Ongoing compliance required
A licensee who is part of a reduced audit program must show ongoing compliance.
If a third-party auditor identifies a major or critical non-conformance, or a PrimeSafe sanction is issued at the facility, a licensee:
- Will be removed from the reduced audit program, and revert to a standard audit schedule
- Must take corrective action to address the non-conformance.
Accredited Food Safety Based Quality Assurance Systems
Any licensees subject to a quarterly audit schedule which has incorporated into its operations an accredited food safety based quality assurance system such as ISO 9001 or 22000, can have their audit frequency adjusted to a biannual audit schedule, subject to PrimeSafe approval.
A further reduction in the number of scheduled audits is not available to facilities where the scheduled audit frequency has already been reduced.