The following has been prepared to provide general information on approved auditors.
What is an approved auditor and what is their role?
An approved auditor is a person trained and approved by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) under export legislation to carry out regulatory audits of export registered establishments engaged in the preparation or storage and loading of fish, egg, dairy and meat products for export as food. Approved auditors can be engaged by export registered establishments to conduct audits for compliance with legislative and importing country requirements and provide audit reports to the department.
What will approved auditors be approved to audit?
Currently, a number of state regulatory authorities (SRAs) have responsibility for the conduct of audits, at export registered establishments on behalf of the department.
Conversely, in some jurisdictions the department may conduct audits of export registered establishments for compliance with both export and domestic requirements – these latter audits are conducted on behalf of SRAs.
The department may approve auditors to audit on its behalf in all commonwealth jurisdictions.
Where the department is responsible for the audit of both domestic and export requirements – the approval of approved auditors by the department only applies to audits of export requirements.
Auditors who also wish to audit domestic requirements must make application to the appropriate food regulator in that jurisdiction for approval.
It should also be noted that for some commodities, an importing country may place restrictions on who can undertake audits. For example—establishments that prepare or store meat for export to the United States of America may only be audited by an auditor employed by the department.
In order to determine if approval as an auditor is applicable to a specific jurisdiction or for a specific commodity (i.e. fish, dairy, eggs and/or meat); reference should be made to the Service Delivery Arrangements table.
Who can apply to be an approved auditor?
Approved auditors may include independent, third party or commercially employed auditors, but due to potential conflict of interest may not include persons who are in the direct employ of export registered establishment subject to be audited. Payment to an auditor for carrying out the functions of an auditor does not constitute a conflict of interest and is generally the responsibility of the establishment being audited.
What qualifications and experience is required to be an approved auditor?
FDF10 issued by a registered training organization (RTO) under the requirements of the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).
The department utilises a commodity risk classification system to classify both establishments and auditors. Application may be made to audit one or more commodities at one or more risk classification.
To be approved, applicants must demonstrate achievement of the required audit competencies, qualifications and commodity specific experience applicable to their scope of application.
Applicants applying for medium and/or high commodity risk classifications must be able to demonstrate recent commodity experience, such as relevant qualifications, industry experience and/or audit experience.
- FDFFSACA / FDFAU4001A—Assess compliance with food safety program
(This competency may be superseded by a person who has already obtained competency FDFFSCFSAA/FDFAU4003A)
- FDFFSCOMA / FDFAU4002A—Communicate and negotiate to conduct food safety audits
- FDFFSCFSAA / FDFAU4003A—Conduct food safety audits
- FDFFSCHZA / FDFAU4004A—Identify, evaluate and control food safety hazards
In addition to the above listed units of competency, auditors in the medium levels must hold a Certificate IV or higher in food science or related field (including 40 hours of food microbiology).
In addition to the above listed units of competency for auditing and medium risk requirements, auditors applying for approval to audit high risk processes must, where applicable to the commodity and process being audited, have the following high risk units of competency:
- FDFFSCC4A / FDFAU4006A—Audit a cook chill process
- FDFFSHT4A / FDFAU4007A—Audit a heat treatment process (retort & pasteurization)
- FDFFSME4A / FDFAU4008A—Audit manufacturing of ready-to-eat meat products
- FDFFSBM4A / FDFAU4005A—Audit bivalve mollusc growing & harvesting operations
Exemplar Global certification (formerly known as RABQSA)
The following RABQSA issued units of competency NFS 1-4 will be accepted as equivalent to the 4 nationally recognized units of competency for auditing where an auditor has applied for either low or medium risk commodity risk classification.
RABQSA-NFS1: Assess compliance of food safety programs
RABQSA-NFS2: Communicate and negotiate to conduct food safety audits
RABQSA-NFS3: Conduct food safety audits
RABQSA-NFS4: Identify, evaluate and control food safety hazards
Units of competency
Additional information on training packages, units of competency and registered training organisations (RTOs) able to provide Statements of Attainment in the above listed units of competency can be found on the National Training Information Services website.
How do I apply to be an approved auditor?
From 1 July 2011, applicants wishing to become an approved auditor will be able to complete the approved auditor application form.
The completed form must be submitted to the department with any necessary documentation required to support the application.
How will my application be assessed?
Once an application is received, the department will assess the application to determine if the applicant has met the minimum requirements, including those for qualifications and commodity experience.
In addition to evidence of experience and qualifications, applicants will be required to submit information to be used to determine that they are a suitable person to be approved. This information will include proof of approval to work in Australia, an identity and Australian Federal Police national police check and acknowledgement that the applicant will comply with the approved auditor code of conduct.
Applicants meeting minimum requirements will then be provided with access to self-paced on-line training in the legislative requirements of the department. When training is completed, applicants will be required to undertake a ‘witness audit’. This assessment is required in order to assess the applicant’s skills and knowledge, understanding of the export legislation and to verify that the prospective approved auditor can appropriately interpret and apply the applicable legislation.
How will I be approved?
On successful completion of the ‘witness audit’, applicants will be notified in writing by the department in the form of a Notice of Approval (which will define the commodity risk classification that you are eligible to audit), be provided with an identity card and be listed in the public approved auditor register.
What happens once I am approved?
Listing on the approved auditor register will enable the approved auditor to be contacted by export registered establishments seeking to engage the services of an approved auditor to conduct their regulatory audits.
The establishment and the approved auditor are then responsible for organising and managing the audit process. The department is not involved in any contract negotiations or agreement between the registered establishment and an approved auditor.
How long is my approval for?
The duration of an approved auditor’s approval with the department is for 12 months from the date of initial approval unless revoked. Approved auditors must undergo an annual renewal process to maintain their approved auditor status.
For further information on approved auditors, please contact Dairy Eggs and Fish.