Food Safety Net Services Certification and Audit, LLC (FSNS C&A) started as a division of Food Safety Net Services (FSNS). Food Safety Net Services was started in 1995 as a microbiological and chemical testing laboratory for food products. The auditing division was created 2002 as a service for laboratory customers performing third party food safety, quality, sanitation, and animal welfare audits. In 2008, the FSNS audit division began performing Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) audits under the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety scheme. During this time the audit group was contracted with a third party certification body to perform certification audits. In 2010, FSNS expanded the scope of services provided with the introduction of BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution. In 2013 FSNS C&A was formally created as an independent entity and gained licenses from BRC to perform certification audits against the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution schemes, and by the Safe Quality Food (SQF) to perform audits against SQF Code. At this point FSNS C&A became an independent certification body operating under the ISO Guide 65 requirements. FSNS C&A was audited by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in July, 2013 and gained accreditation against ISO Guide 65.
FSNS C&A is committed to providing certification and audit services with consistency, impartiality, and integrity. Activities conducted by FSNS C&A are carried out by trained and highly qualified personnel to assure each activity and end product meets FSNS C&A high standards, ISO 65 guidelines (ISO 17065), requirements defined by the Scheme Owner, and specific audit requirements.
FSNS C&A Company Philosophy / Service
Auditors working for FSNS C&A in North America are employees of the company. It is FSNS C&A’s philosophy to employ auditors to maintain quality and consistency within our auditing team which translates to consistent audits for our clients. This also allows us flexibility in scheduling to meet ever changing industry needs. In the event a facility would need to adjust their schedule due to an unforeseen event, FSNS C&A has proven ability to adjust scheduling to meet customer needs and provide high quality service.
FSNS C&A’s management team and auditors core competency is in meat and poultry industries, with strong experience in dairy, egg, baking, milling and dry ingredients, vegetable oil refining and processing, and ready to eat products. Auditors are hired based on industry experience, education, and knowledge. Management personnel have industry experience with an understanding of plant operations and quality programs allowing practical and knowledgeable application of standard and scheme requirements.
Auditor Qualification/ Training
Auditors are qualified through a rigorous qualification program
- Successful completion of scheme specific training (4-5 days)
- Shadow audits (Auditor observing qualified auditor conduct a GFSI audit) – Exceed scheme specific requirements
- Evaluation – post each shadow audit a report with feedback is written by the auditor being shadowed identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement.
- Ongoing Training
- Witness Audits (Qualified auditor evaluating performance of an auditor) – Auditors are witnessed a minimum of annually within each GFSI scheme by another qualified auditor.
- Auditors are not allowed to perform GFSI audits until competency and performance levels meet FSNS C&A levels of quality and competence. Ability to perform audits within categories is ultimately determined by the Vice President of Audit Services.
- Continuous feedback is provided to the auditor though technical reviews of the completed audit. Communication is maintained between the auditor and FSNS C&A Management to maintain calibration and for continuous improvement.
- Auditors performing animal welfare audits are certified animal auditors through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
- Auditor’s ability to perform animal welfare audits authorized by the Vice President of Audit Services providing an additional layer of competency verification.
- SRM/ N60/ Customer Specific Requirements:
- In plant and classroom training is conducted for SRM and N60 requirements.
- Calibration is conducted with customer and industry experts to verify understanding of specific audit requirements.
- FSNS C&A maintains ongoing calibration with auditors. Ongoing calibration with auditors occurs through quarterly conference calls and annual meetings to assure information sharing, clarification of audit, customer requirements, certification body requirements, and consistency is maintained between auditors.
- Certification Body management, who are also qualified auditors, are available while audits are being conducted for clarification of requirements, address questions, and handle disputes.
- Each completed report (GFSI & Non-GFSI) is subject to a technical review by qualified personnel. Audits reports are reviewed by FSNS C&A management and qualified personnel. This is used as an on-going calibration and training tool, assuring consistency between auditors and quality report writing.
FSNS C&A is committed to providing certification services to our clients in an impartial, indpendent and open manner. All of customers are objectively evaluated against requirements defined by the scheme-owner. The requirements are applied to each client uniformily and fairly.
FSNS C&A has established an impartial certification committee who acts as a safe guard against commercial or other influences that may have a preceived affect on our impartiality. The certification committee is comprised of FSNS C&A employees and representatives from academia, food manufacturing and the retail industry. The goal of the certification committee is to verify that policies, procedures and practices implemented by FSNS C&A are designed to ensure certification services are offered to clients in a fair and impartial manner and that the policies and procedures designed to achieve these goals are properly implemented. Additionally, the certification committee reviews FSNS C&A policies, procedures and communication with customers to ensure that FSNS C&A is open with the expectations and requirements for obtaining and maintaining certification.
This goal is achieved through reviewing operating procedure to ensure that process and policies do not favor a client or group of clients and through a review of internal operating procedures to verify process in place adequately mitigate potential impartiality and certification services are offered fairly.
Each certification committee member is bound by a confidentiality agreement with FSNS C&A.
FSNS C&A is entrusted with sensitive information provided by our clients to demonstrate compliance with certification requirements. FSNS C&A diligently works to ensure that sensitive information is not transmitted or provided to unauthorized personnel. To following safeguards have been established to ensure sensitive information is not misused or accessed by unauthorized personnel:
FSNS C&A Personnel
Audit personnel collect sensitive information from the client as part of the audit process. In order to ensure this information is not communicated to unauthorized personnel, auditors are prohibited from discussing policies, procedures, process techniques, audit outcomes or other information to anyone outside of the facility audited. Information collected during the audit process is site-specific and cannot be discussed with other sites owned by the same company or other companies.
FSNS C&A personnel are exposed to sensitive information as part of their duties at FSNS C&A. Employees are required to keep information obtained during their course of employment confidential with information not shared with an outside party or internal associated party unless as a condition of certification requirements or required by law. Employees are required to read and sign a Confidentiality, Invention, and Non-Disclosure Agreement which necessitates FSNS C&A and support personnel to keep information confidential where information is not shared to either internal associated bodies or external parties. Failure to abide by the non-disclosure agreement will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Outside personnel includes, but is not limited to, scheme owner representatives, accreditation personnel, certification committee members, and contracted personnel. Scheme owner and accreditation body personnel may review client information and, at times, shadow auditors at client facilities. During this process outside personnel are exposed to sensitive client information that must remain confidential. Certification Committee members may view confidential information and are required to sign the Non-Employee Confidentiality, Invention, and Non-Disclosure Agreement. Outside personnel are required to agree to the FSNS C&A Confidentiality, Invention, and Non-Disclosure policy prior to being provided access to client information.