7 Warning Signs that You Won't Pass a Certification Audit


As the demand for certification audits increases around the globe, food manufacturers along the supply chain are wondering what they can do to achieve certification and reduce shortcomings along the way. GFSI certification requires several key elements that are reflected in each of the approved certification standards. Check out these 7 warning signs that you won’t pass a certification audit to eliminate deficiencies in your own plant before the big audit day arrives.

1.  Your facility doesn’t foster a culture of food safety.

Creating a culture of food safety is vital for a successful GFSI certification program. What does your company value and believe in? Is your mission statement reflected in the day-to-day actions of employees throughout your plant? Culture defines the right and wrong. It is what is talked about in the board room, at the water stations, and in the cafeteria. If a culture of food safety does not exist in your facility, it will be the most challenging part of the GFSI certification to overcome. Every employee must be part of this culture and committed from the top down. Senior management must demonstrate their commitment by participating in plant activities, providing necessary resources, and rewarding excellence.

2.    Resources haven’t been allocated for investing in improvements.

Creating food safety culture and achieving GFSI certification will definitely require new resources. Consider these resources the investment in the company’s stability, growth, and marketplace recognition. Depending on your starting point, building and equipment upgrades and additional personnel may be needed. Technological advancements can also play significant role and must be available.

3.  Your entire staff hasn’t received appropriate training.

Training is the critical requirement of any food safety and quality management program, and GFSI certification is no exception. No matter what scheme you have decided to implement, the first step is to train all employees at appropriate levels. The team responsible for program development must have undergone formal training to understand the standards and be able to apply them to your operation. The rest of your employees must have a basic understanding of the overall standards and specific knowledge of their own areas of responsibilities. When required training is missing, GFSI certification is not practical.

4.  Key documentation is missing from your formal programs.

All GFSI-approved certification schemes require that formal programs are developed. Policies, procedures, and work instructions are the critical tools to convey a consistent message to employees and ensure regulatory, customer, and GFSI compliance. These documents must be supported by forms and records that provide objective evidence of program implementation. A well-defined document control program provides the most current information to ensure product safety and integrity. Electronic or printed copies of the documents must be available to employees. A register or list of documents and records is useful to prevent anything from falling through the cracks.

5.  You haven’t implemented HACCP.

HACCP is the most widely accepted food safety approach which is recognized and used globally. The system ensure a science-based, systematic evaluation of food safety hazards associated with your raw materials and processing steps, and assigns critical control points or prerequisite programs to reduce or eliminate the risk of each hazard from occurring. A team approach to HACCP ensures program ownership and a thorough hazard analysis that results in a robust food safety system. 

6.   You aren’t appropriately using GMPs to control potential food safety hazards.

Each developed country has its own set of regulations for good manufacturing practices (GMPs). In the United States, FDA Regulation 21 CFR Part 110 includes good manufacturing practices for manufacturing, packing, or holding human food. GMPs provide a solid foundation for an effective food safety system and are required by most food safety certification audits. The majority of potential food safety hazards are controlled by GMPs, so it is extremely important that these programs are developed and implemented effectively.

7.  You haven’t conducted an internal audit.

Internal audit is a critical tool to verify the food safety system and identify gaps and weaknesses. If done correctly – not just to satisfy your certification auditor – the internal audit will ensure compliance to established programs. A team approach to your internal audit helps maintain the impartiality and objectivity, resulting in true evaluation. Internal audits must be scheduled, reports must document conformance and non-conformance, and corrective and preventive actions must be implemented and verified. When you begin the GFSI certification journey, the internal audit will play key role in gap analysis and determining the areas for focus.


Whether you’re just beginning the certification process or you’ve significantly changed your food safety management system since your last audit, a Gap Assessment will help you bridge the gaps between your current food safety management system and a certification-level system. It is also useful when a new version of a Standard is released or in between audits to keep your site audit ready.

A Gap Assessment will evaluate your established procedures, programs, and documentation to measure how well your food safety programs align with your selected certification standard requirements. It’s also a consulting tool that offers the best possible training and helps you discover areas for improvement so corrections can be made before your certification auditor arrives.

AIB’s team of qualified food safety professionals is standing by to help make your certification journey as easy to understand and headache-free as possible. With our help, you can face your certification audit with the confidence that your food safety management system will pass the test.

Schedule your Gap Assessment today! Call 800-633-5137 or send us an email

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