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NFPA Coordinates Food Safety Audits on Behalf of Food Processors.

In an effort to increase efficiencies and avoid duplicative testing, the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) has introduced a new program to coordinate food safety audits of suppliers on behalf of food processors.

NFPA formed a 27-company task force earlier this year to establish audit standards, qualifications for independent auditors and processes to coordinate the scheduling of audits and distribution of reports. The group hopes to train auditors next spring in time to launch the pilot program by summer. NFPA will coordinate the scheduling, conduct, review and distribution of food safety and quality system audits of food industry suppliers. The association says the Food Safety and Quality Systems Supplier Audit Program initially will begin with an estimated 100 to 500 audits, but once things get underway, NFPA expects the program to grow to several thousand audits annually over the next five years.

In a briefing with reporters, NFPA's Executive Vice President Kelly Johnston said, the program is not only limited to U.S. markets and could "expand beyond U.S. shores to other parts of world." NFPA has had meetings with FDA and USDA, and other associations to discuss their audit programs. However, Johnston said this program is not a replacement or substitute of the government programs. There is a lot of support from companies that want auditors to follow the NFPA model, said Johnston.

In streamlining the audit process, Johnston estimated the NFPA program could reduce the number of audits conducted of a supplier from 20 a year to only one to four a year. There are no recognized standards for either audits or auditors, said David Gombas, director, NFPA's Center for the Development of Research Policy and New Technologies. This is why NFPA's audit. "is a descriptive audit," Gombas said. "It gives most processors the information they need" on a supplier, which could eliminate the need to do their own audit, he said.

Johnston said many trade associations were responsive to the program and are looking forward to cooperating with NFPA to apply the program in their industries, specifically the frozen food and foodservice industries. Other trade associations already perform audits of their members, including the International Bottled Water Association which contracts with a third-party organization to design and conduct unannounced audits of their members' facilities as a condition of membership.
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Comment:NFPA Coordinates Food Safety Audits on Behalf of Food Processors.
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 2, 2000
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