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Food Safety Red Flags: Embed Food Safety Risk Alerts in Audit Programs

By: Institutional Cleaning | July 7, 2022 | Reading time: 1 minute

Food safety managers and auditors alike aim to capture the conditions within a food environment within relatively short periods of time spent on site. Their focus, rightfully, is to capture and correct any observed critical violations that present a risk to public health. While this task is of immense importance, the status quo in auditing isn't able to differentiate between sites that receive passing grades with flying colors and those that receive passing grades - but are on the brink of failure in the near future.  And what about those risks that are two small for an auditor to see (i.e. microbes)?

Identifying at-risk sites is a proactive approach that allows for efficient resource allocation and better public health outcomes. Diversey's auditing approach has evolved to incorporate audit items that are red flag indicators; they themselves aren't directly related to the safety of food at that point in time, but, rather, they call out conditions that increase the likelihood of food contamination by environmental pathogens, which are invisible to a trained auditor's eye. Early feedback leaves us optimistic that our audit approach provides pre-emptive, actionable information to food safety managers that will help improve future audit results, reduce overall risk, and ensure that a retailer's customers remain safe, happy, and healthy.

Some of the indicators Diversey has deployed are based on published data and correlations found in various environmental microbiology and food safety studies. For example, the presence of standing water has been correlated to the likelihood of detecting L. monocytogenes within an environment. Diversey can incorporate a question into your audit or checklist asking about standing water, which can prompt a retailer to investigate and make any needed process changes or repairs.

Additionally, Diversey has leveraged the wealth of first-hand, practical knowledge that our on-site teams have accumulated. We brainstormed a potential list of red flags and actually tested the predictive power of some of these questions against swabbing data collected for this purpose. We incorporate those statistically sound items into audits, as well. Thus far, we have seen an influential dataset develop where this strategy is employed. There is also no additional time added to the audit visit as only a few simple straightforward questions are included in each audit, thus, providing highly actionable and valuable data insights at no additional cost.

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