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Tip of the Week: Overcoming Unannounced Audit Anxiety
Tip of the Week: Overcoming Unannounced Audit Anxiety

Unannounced audits can be challenging, but at AIB International we pride ourselves on ensuring a seamless experience to overcome the audit anxiety that might be building. We are passionate about food safety and sharing our insider knowledge with our clients, as you’ll see in the tips below. Do you have any tips to overcome unannounced audit anxiety? Share those in the comments section below.

  1. Accurate blackout dates. Be sure you have submitted the correct blackout dates when the facility or personnel are unavailable for an inspection. Bonus: you do not need to worry about an inspection when you are not available.
  2. Know your procedure and follow it. Your third-party inspection procedure should state what to do when:
  • the inspector arrives
  • during the opening meeting
  • during the inspection
  • during documentation review
  • during the closing meeting
  • and when the inspector leaves

The entire management team should be familiar with this procedure and follow it during the inspection. You can use it as a reference during the audit as well.



  1. Have an audit plan. Planning out the audit will help you feel prepared and less anxious when the auditor arrives. Ensure the management team and food safety team are familiar with the plan and can execute it at any time. 
    1. Plan your audit route of the plant. Where would you like to start: shipping, receiving, production? How does your facility flow? Will it be better to conquer one room at a time or follow one line at a time?
    2. Define management roles and responsibilities. Who is responsible for what task? 
      1. Designate an audit leader. This is the person the inspector will direct all questions to. This person will also accompany the inspector at all times, so they are not left alone.  
      2. Designate a scribe. This person will take copious notes through the entire audit and document what was asked, seen, and shown in response. 
      3. Designate a runner. This person will go get the records requested by the inspector, so the leader does not have to leave the auditor.
      4. Designate sweepers. These people will be on the floor ensuring production is running smoothly and nothing goes wrong. They will be overseeing areas of maintenance, cleaning, and operation before the auditor arrives.
      5. Designate personnel for interviews. All line workers can be interviewed during the inspection and should be prepped on the type of questions that may be asked. They should also be fully trained in their position to be able to answer any questions asked. Based on the arrival time of the inspector, which can be any time during operating hours, you can help by identifying the best employees for interviews on each shift. Personnel may get nervous and overshare information so selecting the best employees to talk to the inspector would be good preparation. 
      6. Designate area leads. These people will lead the auditor in each area. They should be the expert of the area and able to answer the questions the inspector asks through the area.
      7. Designate alternates. In the event the designee may not be there the day of the audit, you should have back up personnel who can fill in for the auditor leader, scribe, runner, area leaders, and all management personnel that will join the auditor. 
  2. Create an audit binder. The binder should include your procedure, your audit plan, and other documents and procedures commonly asked by inspectors. Include your FDA registration, GMP policy, no photo policy, sample policy, what records to show, and blank copies of forms to complete about how the inspection went and the purpose of the inspection, if required.
  3. Manage the day-to-day. Ensuring the day-to-day tasks are completed and verified will ease your audit anxiety by knowing any records requested by the inspector will be complete or have a corrective action already in place. 
  4. Practice. Do a mock inspection with someone in the facility being the inspector. Practice what to do throughout the whole audit, from arrival to departure. Complete practice interviews with line workers and area leaders, as well as the alternates. This will make you feel more prepared when an auditor arrives unannounced.

In summary, be prepared.

Have a plan in place, follow it, and practice it. 

You will feel more at ease when auditor arrives because you are prepared and know what to expect.

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