This fact sheet has been prepared to provide general information for export Registered Establishments about 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 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 USA 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 a specific commodity (i.e. fish, dairy, eggs &/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 in who are in the direct employ of the export registered establishment subject to the audit. Payment to an auditor for carrying out the functions of an auditor does not constitute a conflict of interest.
How will Approved Auditors be approved?
Approved Auditors will make application to the department and go through an approval process that includes an assessment of the applicants experience and qualifications and their suitability to be approved as an auditor, including an AFP Police Check and their declaration of any potential conflicts of interest.
Applicants will undertake training in the legislative requirements of the department, procedures and be subject to the successful completion of a “witness audit” to ensure they are able to apply legislative requirements in an audit context.
How does a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Registered Establishment engage an Approved Auditor?
From 1 July 2011, establishments wishing to engage the services of an Approved Auditor will be able to complete the Registered Establishment Application.
How will my application be assessed?
Once an application is received, the department will assess the application to determine if the establishment is eligible to engage the services of an Approved Auditor.
Upon receipt of the application form, the department will review the application and determine the suitability of the establishment for audit by Approved Auditors based on the establishment eligibility and any additional conditions that may be a requirement of the commodity program. These additional conditions may include the requirements of an importing country with whom the establishment is listed for export and service delivery arrangements applicable to the establishment’s state or territory of operation.
Registered establishments wishing to engage the services of an Approved Auditor must meet the following minimum conditions:
1. Have a satisfactory compliance history
2. Have an approved arrangement (AA) that is approved without conditions
3. Have no outstanding enforcement action against it
Where the department utilises an A - E rating system to indicate establishments audit performance an establishment must have achieved at least a C rating at the audit prior to application. Registered Establishments on a D or E rating will be audited by the department until a satisfactory performance level is achieved.
How will I be approved?
Eligible export registered establishments will be notified in writing of their approval to engage an Approved Auditor, which will specify the:
- establishment commodity risk classification/s which is determined by the commodities prepared and the food safety risk posed by the operations conducted at the establishment, and
- frequency at which audits are to be conducted to comply with the department's requirements.
A copy of this written approval must be retained by the Occupier of the establishment and be produced at audit. Failure to produce this letter will result in the Approved Auditor immediately terminating the audit and notifying the department.
What happens once I am approved?
Once approved, the establishment may access the Approved Auditor Register available on-line and engage the services of an Approved Auditor to schedule an audit at the frequency specified by the department.
The register includes details of Approved Auditors and includes:
- Auditor name
- Contact details (phone and e-mail only)
- Commodity risk classification/s the auditor is eligible to audit
- Operating regions
Establishments must ensure that the Approved Auditor is approved to conduct audits for your establishment’s commodity risk classification/s type.
Approved Auditors are approved to conduct regulatory audits across Australia. However, to assist establishments in finding an Approved Auditor within their local area, information is provided as to the state(s) and/or territory in which the auditor has elected to deliver services.
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?
Once approved, the export registered establishment can continue to utilise the services of Approved Auditor until they choose to be audited by the department, the establishment performance at audit drops below the minimum conditions or their approval to engage an Approved Auditor is revoked by the department due to enforcement action.
For further information on approved auditors, please contact Dairy Eggs and Fish