Expert opinion

Is the future of audits online?

During the corona crisis people all over the world have got used to working from home. But, while a lot of work can easily be done online, there are areas in which digitalisation may not look ideal at first sight. Conducting company audits is one such field.

Our auditors rely heavily on personal on-site impressions. Seeing, sensing, judging – with your own eyes – is critical to the job. Will GMP+ FSA audits move online too?

With certified companies in every corner of the world, there is no question that online tools have been indispensable to our scheme for many years. In fact, our digital services recently got a boost.

Taking responsibility for biosafety
The coronavirus (Covid-19) has made it clear just how disruptive infectious diseases can be for our society and economy. It is therefore time to reflect on the role that the feed sector plays in biosafety.

Corona accelerated online auditing

For the last few months, aspiring auditors have been able to take their exams online. We decided to offer online audits before the corona­virus broke out, but the pandemic accelerated their implementation. Despite the current travel restrictions, exams are still taking place. We also launched a e-learning programme on HACCP in order to introduce people with less access to knowledge to the basics of feed ­safety.

However, time quickly catches up with digital options. With the outbreak of Covid-19, tools suddenly turned from ‘nice-to-haves’ into crucial ‘must-haves’. We are now confronted with the reality that much more needs to be done. Which brings us to company audits.

China is rapidly embracing feed safety
Spurred by the rapidly increasing meat and dairy consumption and several high-profile contamination incidents, feed and food safety protocols are gaining steam in China.

The challenge of online audits

Covid-19 forces us to research the once-unthinkable possibility of conducting remote audits via video connection, data exchange or ­access to data files. The main challenge: information must provide ‘objective evidence’, but the auditor will not be on site to personally verify it.

Nonetheless, we simply do not have the luxury of avoiding such challenges. The question is not whether we should implement remote audits, but how and when. Luckily, we have seen that the crisis also stimulates creativity and new ideas.

  • Will audits soon become cheaper and more sustainable?
  • What role can advanced technologies play?
  • Will this be a first step towards moving ‘beyond auditing’, and find new ways of verifying compliance?
  • And, if so, what consequences will this have for the working methodology and competences of the auditors?

All these new questions keep us on our toes. And that’s a good thing. With a global and engaged community of knowledge-intensive partners, we are confident that these new questions and challenges will bring us all closer to our goal of Feed Safety Worldwide.