AIB International addresses audit procedures

by Eric Schroeder
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MANHATTAN, KAS. — AIB International this week released an extensive account of its role in the audit of the Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, Ga., facility.

In defending its services, AIB said third-party audits play a "critical role" in securing a safe food supply. In the case of its audit of the P.C.A. plant, AIB said a number of factors changed between the time its inspection was completed in March 2008 and when the F.D.A. conducted its own inspection in January 2009. Those factors included the departure of the P.C.A.’s plant manager in June 2008 — a new manager was not hired until October 2008, AIB said.

"Four months without day-to-day ongoing technical oversight would be more than enough time to cause such a facility’s condition to decline," AIB said, adding that the Blakely facility was a "highly complicated operation" with aging equipment that required constant upkeep and attention to remain within acceptable sanitation levels.

By the time the F.D.A. investigation was initiated in January 2009, AIB said conditions clearly had "significantly worsened," adding that had the more serious problems and unsatisfactory conditions found by F.D.A. investigators in January and February 2009 been present at the time of the AIB audit in March 2008 they would have been flagged by the AIB auditor.

AIB noted that while its inspections follow detailed standards based on F.D.A. regulations and Food Chemicals CODEX standards, they are not a certification audit and cannot get around deception.

As part of its commitment to continuous improvement, AIB identified several updates and revisions to its consolidated standards, including:

• Increasing the time required to conduct an audit;

• Making achievement certificates more difficult to obtain;

• Changing the title on its GMP inspection certificates from "Certificate of Achievement" to "Recognition of Achievement" to lower the possibility that the process is misunderstood as an actual certification;

• More clearly stating on reports whether audits/inspections were unannounced or announced.

For more information visit www.aibonline.org.

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