IFS Audits during the Corona Crisis

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“If audits cannot be conducted within the specified timeframe, the certificate will expire. An extension of the certificate without an audit is not possible.” The official position of IFS in times of Corona may sound tough at first: neither postponement nor remote audits are accepted. However, don’t worry – there are alternatives. Below you will find all the important information on how to proceed.

As a result of travel restrictions and lockdowns, many audits cannot take place as usual. After careful evaluation, IFS has stated their belief that on-site audits are the only type of audit that is currently suitable as a basis for certification. IFS has therefore decided that certificates that cannot be extended due to the pandemic cannot be extended without audits, and will therefore expire. In such cases, the IFS database will indicate that the certificate could not be extended due to the corona pandemic.

Now, let’s take a look at the specific steps that you have to follow when you are supposed to have an IFS audit in Corona times.

Cancel audit or not?

First, it has to be clarified whether an audit can take place or not. The IFS recommends that all affected sites should conduct a risk assessment and consider whether external persons should be allowed to access to the facility. Each site should therefore carry out an individual risk assessment, taking into account the health risk and governmental measures, in order to decide whether a certain audit can be carried out or not. If the conclusion is that a third party audit is currently not possible, the responsible certification body must be informed with immediate effect and the audit should be postponed. Contact us.

Administrative steps

As soon as the information is received by the certification body, it ticks the recently introduced checkbox in the IFS Database. This enables you to demonstrate to all users of the IFS database that a planned audit had to be postponed because of the Corona crisis. In addition to the checkbox, IFS highly recommends finding an agreement with the certification body on a statement for the comment field, pointing out the following:

  • reason for the postponement
  • recent status of production
  • additional measures taken by the site to ensure safety and quality of products (e.g. internal audits, employee trainings/instructions)
  • additional surveillance measures taken by the certification body
  • next steps in audit planning

All IFS Database Users who have marked you as a favorite will then receive a notification with the information entered in the comment field. The expired certificate remains visible in the database for 12 months after the certificate has expired or until a new certificate is uploaded. IFS answers further questions here.

Optional Solutions

To maintain trust in the supply chain despite the expired certificate and to support the risk management processes of business partners, IFS offers affected companies optional solutions. These include the IFS Remote Surveillance Check and the unannounced GMP on-site check. To learn more about these alternatives, please click here.

Further information

Do you have any questions about the corona requirements of other standards? You can find the current summary here. Contact us if you have further questions and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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