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Closure of Corrective Action Records (CARs) raised at external audits

During your Freshcare audit, the auditor will be looking for objective evidence that the requirements of the Freshcare Standard(s) are being met. The auditor does this by asking you questions, reviewing your documents, talking with your workers, and observing practices in the work environment. The auditor will be working through a checklist similar to your internal audit record.

Despite best intentions and preparation, you can still encounter problems during your audit. At the exit meeting, the auditor will discuss their audit findings and provide you with a summary. They will identify the strong points of your system and any areas that you may need to improve. You should also be invited to respond and comment on the audit and/or audit process.

If there are things that need to be rectified or addressed (corrective actions) before certification is recommended, they will be discussed at this point.  An agreement should be reached about what needs to be done and when it will be done and a copy of the corrective action record (CAR) will be left with you at the end of the audit.

CAR’s should be interpreted as a tool for documenting and demonstrating continuous improvement, as they provide the mechanism for identifying a problem; whether it has occurred before; how the problem is being managed; and actions established to prevent the problem from occurring again.

Once a CAR is received you need to take steps to investigate the cause and what steps are required to be taken to fix the problem now, and what may need to be changed in your program or business to prevent the issue from happening again.

Corrective and preventative actions could involve additional procedures or instructions for tasks, additional training of workers; or allowing more time for product and water test results to be completed.

The Freshcare Rules “8.0 Certification Process” or “R5 Corrective Action Report (CAR) Rating and Closure” outline the closure times of CAR’s required per Freshcare Standard, and your auditor will give you a date when the evidence that you have taken action is required to be provided back to the Certification Body.

Every business has the right to disagree with their audit findings, and any CAR you do not agree with should be discussed during the audit exit meeting. If this is not able to be resolved, your next point of escalation is the Certification Body, followed by Freshcare.

Failure of your business to address a CAR identified during your audit will result in the Certification Body unable to recommend certification and therefore unable to issue your Freshcare certificate. This essentially means you have paid for an audit to be conducted (in time and money) without achieving the outcome of being certified.

If a CAR remains unactioned by your business past 6 months from your audit, the Certification Body will be unable to issue a certificate to you for that audit, resulting in the requirement for another external audit to occur.