Food Safety Interview Questions An ISO 22000 Lead Auditor Must Know

Implementation and performance of a food safety management system in an organization calls for regular assessment. Only then can a food business keep its ISO 22000 Certification intact and stay ahead in the industrial competition. Severe food scandals in recent years have increased the distrust of consumers even in some of the leading food businesses. There isn’t any other way of winning back their confidence. This has urged food businesses to prove the excellence of their food safety systems. They require adept professionals for conducting ISO-compliant screenings in the form of audits. Hence, the increasing popularity of ISO 22000 Lead Auditor Certification.

The 22000 Lead Auditor Certification has not only expanded the scope of job opportunities but that of getting self-employed, as well. With the food industry growing, by and large, there is no looking back for professional food safety auditors. What to speak of individuals who possess ISO 22000 Lead Auditor Certification? This globally accepted ISO standard is the ultimate authority on the prevention of food safety hazards. Employers need to assess if they are hiring the most eligible ones. So, at times they end up asking tricky questions without expecting a proper answer in return. Here is the turn for candidates to surprise them with a marvelous performance that requires beforehand practice.

A food-related organization hires a safety management auditor for its commitment to the quality standards of the product. He/she monitors if the enterprise is adhering to the food safety practices for complying with ISO 22000 guidelines.

This is a prime factor for consumers to be more cautious about food safety. To meet their expectation and survive the industrial competition, food enterprises are undertaking audits at regular intervals. An auditor must be very skillful to discriminate between effective and outdated screening procedures and use only the relevant ones.

ISO 22000 audit is conducted to assess the extent to which a food business observes the best safety practices. A certified enterprise must possess an FSMS that caters to the requirements of the concerned ISO standards. This is advantageous for enhancing the consumer base by protecting public health.

An ISO 22000 Lead Auditor focuses on the core areas of food safety. These are namely, food preparation and storage, facility design, sanitation, employee hygiene, and food safety. He/she ensures the proper functioning of these areas.

To properly plan a food safety audit program, one must acquire abundant knowledge. An individual must be well acquainted with the use of tools for digital management. Thus, one must attend ISO 22000 Lead Auditor Certification.

An ISO 22000 audit is a structured program that assesses the documentation of different food safety operations. An audit aims to prepare a report on the status of safety management in a food organization. This report would contain both the weaknesses and strengths of FSMS. It helps an organization to figure out the areas for improvement.

  • FSMS inspection on receiving a complaint
  • Supplier request
  • Ensure regulatory and legal compliance
  • Performance evaluation
  • Premises condition assessment
  • Certification to the business for complying with the ISO and other safety standards
  • Business objectives promotion

The requirements, laws, regulations, and management system orientations of a food business vary from one location to another. For instance, food safety laws aren’t equally stringent in every state of the US. So, an auditor is meant to do deep-dive research regarding certain laws.

An external food safety audit refers to one that involves a 2nd or 3rd party organization as an auditor. The audit programs conducted by the organization’s employed ISO 22000 Lead Auditor or any other such professional are internal audits.

Lead auditors working in food enterprises perform audits at regular intervals for the latter’s benefit. Such audits are meant for ensuring that the organization is observing the safety regulations. They also take care of the FSMS readiness for inspection by an external auditor.

A lead auditor is required to be knowledgeable in the various aspects of food safety alongside the safety hazards. This facilitates the precise scrutiny of documents furnished by the food business during the audit.

Waste management irregularities directly impact the quality levels of food products. Thus, it is a matter of concern for auditors and a criterion for ISO-certified food businesses to fulfill. ISO 22000 audit checks if the product conforms to human health and environmental protection.

An ISO 22000 Lead Auditor inspects the hygiene practices, attire, cleanliness, and raw material handling of production employees. This also includes the use and availability of sanitizing equipment, facilities of workstation cleaning with hot water, and proper handwashing.

Operational safety depends to an extent on the layout of the area where food is manufactured or prepared. An auditor has to look into the conditions of the wall paint, drainage systems, positioning of chimneys, etc. Any defects in these factors can tamper with workplace safety.

In this digital era, the software is available that assists in verifying, managing, and storing documents. Copies of the ISO 22000 documentation, pre-audit questionnaire, manuals, protocols, and checklists are essential food safety audit tools.

ISO 22000 Lead Auditor Certification holders gain the skills to judge impartially and be professional while disclosing audit results. Information in the results is very sensitive to the industrial reputation of a food enterprise. An auditor mustn’t miss out on any flaws that meet his/her and report them clearly to the organization.

A lead food safety auditor conducts a thorough on-site inspection. He/she reminds and re-interprets the ISO principles to the respective food business organization. Judging the efficacy of the organization’s existing FSMS is the prime objective of a lead auditor.

A lead auditor includes the requirements for the areas that need improvement, in the audit report. The extent to which an organizational FSMS is meeting the ISO 22000 standards is also noted down for future reference.

A single audit session may not suffice for the food preparation safety evaluation. Several sections fall within this audit segment. Such as raw material segregation, gloves-wearing/ handwashing, setting the cooking temperature right, and frozen food thawing.

Inappropriate storage conditions can make even the finest raw materials manufacture an end product with a lower shelf-life than expected. An auditor checks if freezer thermostats are broken or uncalibrated. He/she also looks into how raw materials are stored and whether any perished material is kept along with the finished product. Damaged packaging is also taken into account.

HACCP principles include hazard analysis, CCP identification, establishing critical limits, monitoring procedures, corrective actions, verification procedures, and record-keeping and documentation.

The HACCP team should determine the actions required to make process improvements as well as the measures to stop potentially hazardous foods from entering the food chain. It entails identifying the issues and the actions to prevent them from reoccurring.

Physical critical limits include the following:
  • Temperature
  • Dried weight
  • Time
  • Absence of metal
  • Viscosity
  • Moisture content

The process of identifying and evaluating the physical, chemical, and biological hazards that can exist at various stages during the food manufacturing process is known as "hazard analysis." Using the HACCP plan, the HACCP team strives to prevent, eliminate, or control those hazards.

  • Scope
  • Normative references
  • Terms and definitions
  • Context of the organization
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Improvement

There are three types of hazards in HACCP:
  • Biological Hazards
  • Chemical Hazards
  • Physical Hazards

The stakeholders in HACCP include Food Producers and Processors, Regulatory Agencies, Consumers, Retailers and Distributors, and Suppliers.

  • Chemical Contaminants
  • Allergens
  • Toxins
  • Adulterants

The primary elements of FSMS as described in the ISO 22000 are interactive communication; system management; prerequisite programmes; and the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).

Food Safety Management System should include
  • Food safety policies
  • Food safety objectives
  • Food safety processes
  • Food safety procedures
  • Food safety documentation

Effective FSMS enables organizations to react to problems that might jeopardize food safety more quickly and effectively, assisting in the prevention of potential contamination.

The structure of ISO 22000 is similar to other ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and others.

Some organizations require/ demand ISO 22000 certification before they will supply or work with organizations across the food supply chain. So having ISO 22000 Certification opens doors for a business locally or internationally.

The four phases of the PDCA cycle are:
  • Plan- plan changes
  • Do- implement the change
  • Check- assess results
  • Act- Take actions to improve

ISO 22000 can be applied by organizations that are involved in the production, processing, distribution, and handling of food products. In addition, it can be utilized by organizations that provide services to the food industry.

  • Actions to be taken
  • Resources required for them
  • Responsibility allotment
  • Timeline for completion
  • Results evaluation method

Key elements found in an ISO 22000 Food Safety Policy are statement of commitment, compliance with ISO 22000, applicability, food safety objectives, responsibilities, legal and regulatory requirements, resource allocation, documentation and monitoring and review.

  • Lead Auditor
  • Auditor
  • Technical Specialist
  • Certification Reviewer
  • Audit Client
  • Management Team
  • Auditee

Compared to on-site audits, remote audits are more economical since they reduce business expenses on auditors' lodging and travel cost. Additionally, it allows for scheduling and audit execution flexibility to accommodate the availability of both the business and the auditor.

  • Application
  • Document review
  • Initial audit certification
  • Surveillance audit
  • Corrective action
  • Renewal audit
  • scope changes