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  • Writer's pictureKarl Kolb


Some of the greatest debates of my long academic career were not in the classroom but on the plant floor with GFSI auditors, actually any auditor.

There are some things about auditors that just drive me up the wall and I think anyone who runs into these characteristics should get as upset as I do when they are discovered.

Problem #1 “Overreach” The standard may say something like this, “All garbage cans need liners.” It’s one of these visual requirements on the checklist, you have a liner in the garbage can or you don’t. Yes or no. But, the auditor adds, “You need an SOP on how to change the liner. Which liner, what to do when its full, broken or missing.” A responsible person needs to be in charge of the policy, program, and lesson plan is needed too. This person must have a college degree, speak 7 languages, and have their family birth certificates on file all the way back to the beginning of time. Aaahhhhh!

The requirement is to have a liner in a trash can- plain and simple. Everything else the auditor wants is called “Overreach.”

Problem #2 “Reach” The auditor doesn’t think they found enough points to deduct from the final score and so goes searching for more things (to be wrong) so they can write them up and feel like they have done their job. Aaahhhh, no, be big enough to acknowledge the facility has done a good job and move on. And, if 100% is an option, then why not give it to them?

Problem #3 “Doesn’t read the standard” This is where the auditor guesses at what the standard requires and then imposes their perception on the facility. The standard needs to be read word for word and applied the very same way.

Problem #4 “Apply a risk analysis.” The situation needs to be applied to the standard. Don’t try to fit the standard to the situation. This is risk analysis according to GFSI. By example, “All areas need to be clean.” So, if inside a lettuce processing house the standard means everything is clean, clean, clean; eat off the floor clean, then that is one standard of clean appropriate to the situation. If inside a potato packing house, clean is a whole different world.

Problem #5 “The auditor is reading their own press.” I worked in Hollywood at Westwood One for a couple years. Those entertainers that read their own press and believed it were hard to live with from day to day. Everyone tells auditors what a great job they did and for the most part the auditors do but when it goes to their head and all you hear in the audit is how great they are, war story on top of war story, it severely detracts from the fidelity of the audit. Most auditors are mature enough to know who they really are and focus on the audit and know that clients don’t want to hear how the auditor walked on water.

The key to success in an audit is following the standard and to be smarter than the auditor. I have 16 PERFECT (100%) BRC and SQF audits under my belt with ifferent auditors for each. I knew the standard and didn’t give the auditor an inch. Fight back against bull crap. You are paying for the audit, not the crap.

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