From Concept to Career – Part 3 of 3
Amelia is a Niagara College graduate pursuing a career in the Food and Beverage Industry. She has a background in Culinary Innovation and is passionate about exploring the many career paths within the Food Science world. This is the 3rd of a series of posts she has written, taking us on her journey exploring Food Safety and Auditing (Check out Part 1 and Part 2).
In my opinion, the second course in the Food Safety Program Optimization certificate should be called Auditing 101. Victor Muliyi taught this Food Safety Management course over the last few days of reading week, giving us an in-depth look into the life of an auditor.
One of the first things we covered was what it takes to succeed as an auditor. Victor taught us that an auditor must be very detailed, organized and polite – displaying good judgement, thick skin and above all, honesty. His philosophy is an auditor must be a sponge, not a tap. They must listen, look, read and learn from their surroundings, and absorb the functionality of a company’s food safety system.
Do you have what it takes?
An audit starts with the auditor sitting in on a HACCP meeting and reviewing the company’s regulations, from the hazard controls for raw materials to the finished product. Everything else that is involved with the product, from employee training, equipment calibration, cleaning and test results are inspected along the audit trail.
We also learned that there is a certain way the auditor should speak, using plain and gentle language to communicate with the company to get the best results. This can be as simple as using “you” for positive feedback, and “we” for negative feedback. That way, blame doesn’t fall on one person, and solutions to hazards can be easily introduced!
Pass or Fail?
If a company has unsafe practices, the activity is labelled as a non-conformance, which we learned are categorized into minor, major and critical. Rectification for the non-conformance is done by issuing a Corrective Action Request (CAR) for the issue to be fixed within a certain time frame. When the audit is complete, the auditor holds a closing meeting where they discuss if the company has passed or not. If the company did not pass, the auditor gives a time frame for a Corrective Action Plan and they agree on a follow-up.
Careers in the Food Industry
By the time the last day came around, I felt like I had gained critical knowledge for a field that I knew very little about before, including designing competent audits, preforming an effective audit report, and how to follow up after an audit. Even if I wasn’t to become an auditor, the skills I learned in this course are valuable in many different jobs in the industry. From a company’s point of view, knowing how to think like an auditor is very useful, as thinking critically about food safety will keep up the company’s reputation, profitability and jobs.
A ‘Food Safety’ Mindset
This auditing course was a great experience to learn about another up and coming field that contains many opportunities for careers, many of which can take you around the world! There’s lots of opportunity for eager people to become auditors for Accreditation or Certification Bodies.
Overall, I would highly recommend the SGS courses to anyone interested in Food Safety or pursuing a career in Food Technology. What I learned in these courses can be used to help find a future career in the industry.
These certificates will help set me apart from other prospective candidates in my job search. In the future, I hope to complete the other courses in the Food Safety Program Optimization Certificate and strengthen my food safety knowledge.
I’m not sure where my career path will take me but I have a new-found interest in auditing. These courses made me realize that I can create a future in the food industry that I may not have visualized before. Wherever I end up working, I know that I can contribute to making the company a safer environment, thanks to what I learned from SGS!
Hungry for more on Food Safety and Auditing? Check out these episodes from the My Food Job Rocks podcast; Hear from Tiffany Lau, a retail Food Safety Auditor with NSF and Adam Yee explains Why Food Safety Auditing might be the career path for you.
Written by Amelia Laplante
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