Pro Tip: Self-inspection can improve personnel practices, sanitation effectiveness, equipment conditions, facility conditions and pest control.

It is not enough to assume that everything in a food facility is working as planned. A routine self-inspection is needed to look at how an operation is functioning and make any necessary corrections. Most importantly, self-inspections should not become repetitive. They should always provide meaningful insights for the site.

Management should define and communicate the expected outcome of the self-inspections. When identifying members of the self-inspection team, consider including representatives from maintenance, quality control, operations, sanitation, and shipping and receiving. Diversity gives the team the expertise needed to identify problems, conduct root cause analyses and implement corrective actions. The team will also benefit if members are experienced, keen observers and passionate about food safety.

Ideally, self-inspections should be conducted monthly. This will provide enough time for corrective actions to be implemented between inspections while allowing for the timely identification of new problems. However, each site can determine which frequency works best.

Besides covering personnel practices, sanitation effectiveness, equipment conditions, facility conditions and pest control, the self-inspection team needs to look for signs of food safety culture issues driven by beliefs, behaviors and attitudes. These must also be addressed immediately to prevent a negative impact on the food safety culture.

The self-inspection team must document their findings, bring them to the attention of the personnel responsible for the activity inspected, set deadlines for corrective actions and verify they are met.

Vikas Menon is a food safety professional at AIB International.