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5 steps to pass any global food safety audits

Hygiene Monitoring

Pass Any Food Safety Audit Using Data: A 5-Step Guide to Streamline Environmental Monitoring from HACCP to GFSI


From the internationally recognized Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked schemes like BRC Global Standards, Safe Quality Food (SQF) and FSSC 22000, food businesses must demonstrate their commitment to food safety through stringent audits and certifications. These standards not only help ensure the production of safe, high-quality food but also facilitate access to global markets and strengthen brand reputation. 

However, achieving and maintaining compliance with these standards can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to environmental monitoring. As a critical component of any food safety program, environmental monitoring helps detect potential contamination risks, verify the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitation procedures and prevent costly recalls or outbreaks. 

In this blog post, we’ll help you navigate the challenges in environmental monitoring and ace your next food safety audit with the data-centric approach. By implementing the following 5 steps, you'll be well-equipped to demonstrate compliance, identify potential risks and drive continuous improvement in your environmental monitoring program (EMP). 

Step 1: Establish a Risk-based EMP 

As our "Basics of Food Safety Certification and Audit Preparation" whitepaper emphasizes, a risk-based approach lays the foundation for a streamlined, audit-ready EMP. By focusing on the most critical areas and potential hazards, you can effectively allocate resources and demonstrate a proactive stance on food safety to auditors. 

Establish scientifically validated monitoring procedures and action limits for each critical control point (CCP). This ensures you obtain actionable data encompassing environmental monitoring results, sanitation effectiveness, process control parameters, and corrective actions. Having this comprehensive data creates a solid foundation for a streamlined, audit-ready approach to food safety.  

Learn more about how to build a risk-based EMP. 

Step 2: Choose the Right Software Solutions for Streamlined Data Management  

Once you have a solid risk-based foundation for your EMP, you can focus on establishing a robust data management system to support your monitoring efforts. Centralizing all your EMP data into a single platform can help facilitate audit readiness and provide a clear, comprehensive view of your food safety performance.  

Data management platforms purposefully designed for food safety programs, like Hygiena's SureTrend platform, offer a range of features designed to simplify and automate EMP data management, saving you time and resources while ensuring audit readiness. 

With the right data management platform, you can: 

  • Streamline data collection and storage from multiple test types and data sources, regardless of whether the data is from your own operation or a third-party lab  
  • Monitor performance through real-time dashboards and customizable reports 
  • Set up automated alerts and notifications to quickly respond to potential issues or non-conformances 
  • Generate audit-ready documentation and reports with just a few clicks, reducing the time and effort required for audit preparation 

Step 3: Leverage Data Analytics for Trend Analysis and Risk Assessment  

Data analytics is the key to unlocking valuable insights from your environmental monitoring data. Once you have collected comprehensive data, the next step is to leverage data analytics to identify trends, assess risks and drive continuous improvement. By analyzing data, you can gain valuable insights into your food safety performance, identify areas for optimization and demonstrate your commitment to data-driven decision-making to auditors. 

Here are some key types of analysis that can help improve your EMP performance and audit readiness: 

  1. Trend Analysis 
  2. Statistical Process Control (SPC) 
  3. Risk Assessment 
  4. Root Cause Analysis 
  5. Performance Benchmarking 
  6. Predictive Modeling 

If you're interested in learning more about how these data analytics techniques can be applied to your specific EMP and food safety needs, our team of experts is ready to provide you with a personalized consultation

Step 4: Ensure Data Integrity and Security for Audit Confidence  

Maintaining data integrity and security is paramount for instilling audit confidence. Auditors will closely scrutinize the accuracy, consistency and security of your food safety records, so it's essential to have robust data integrity and security measures in place.  

To ensure data integrity and security, it is essential to: 

  • Establish strict validation and verification protocols  
  • Implement role-based access controls and audit trails 
  • Utilize secure storage and transmission methods 
  • Regularly back up your data or use a secure, cloud-based data platform 

Step 5: Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement and Audit Readiness  

Auditors increasingly recognize the importance of both food safety culture and data-driven decision-making in ensuring the effectiveness and resilience of an organization's EMP. By investing in employee training, setting clear expectations around data management and analysis and regularly reinforcing your commitment to continuous improvement, you'll create a culture that not only inspires confidence in auditors but also positions your organization for long-term success and exceptional brand reputation.   


In the globalized, highly-regulated food industry landscape, a data-driven approach to environmental monitoring is crucial for acing food safety audits. By following the 5 steps delineated in this guide, you'll be well-equipped to streamline your EMP and demonstrate compliance with HACCP, GFSI and other global standards. 

Contact our team of experts today to learn more about our environmental monitoring solutions.  

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