IFS Remote Audits & Split Audits
Will it soon be possible to conduct IFS certification audits remotely? The short answer is: probably yes. IFS is developing plans to make remote audits permanently possible, regardless of how COVID-19 evolves.
In June 2020, the Global Food Safety Initiative changed its guidelines on the use of ICT for auditing purposes. The changes enabled scheme owners like IFS to develop protocols for partially remote audits. The full protocols are expected to be released in the Autumn of 2020. Keep an eye on our information page or subscribe to the DQS newsletter to stay up to date!
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, many IFS certification audits had to be cancelled because auditors could not travel to the site. Doing audits remotely was not possible, as the scheme rules did not allow this. IFS developed a non-accredited alternative: the remote surveillance check. However, the remote surveillance check did not result in an accredited certificate, which is exactly what many sites require.
When GFSI updated its requirements in June 2020, this opened the door for a more permanent, widely accepted solution. The new rules IFS is developing should be seen in this light.
Fully Remote Audits for IFS Broker Standard
The first IFS Standard to be audited remotely will be IFS Broker. Sites that are certified to the IFS Broker Standard can choose to have their annual audit entirely remotely. Doing the audit remotely is optional and needs to be agreed between the certified site and their certification body. The remote audit option only applies to announced audits and is ideally carried out by the same auditor who led the last surveillance audit or initial audit.
At DQS, we are ready to serve our customers with remote IFS Broker audits as soon as the full rules have been published.
Split Audits for other IFS Standards
As other IFS Standards focus more on good manufacturing practices, it will not be possible to do the certification audits completely remotely. Auditors will still need to physically visit the site. However, IFS is considering the possibility of a split audit, in which only a part of the total audit duration is spent on site. The other part would be a remote audit.
Unlike BRCGS and FSSC 22000, IFS would require the on-site part of the audit to be completed before the remote part is started. This would enable the auditor to get a better overview of the products, processes and facilities of the company.
Here too it is important that the split audit is optional and must be agreed between the site and the certification body. The certification body will be required to evaluate whether doing the audit partially remotely poses any risk to the audit effectiveness. Only sites with a positive risk assessment will be able to choose the partially remote option.
Remote, on-site or both: DQS is your Certification Partner
As one of the pioneers of remote auditing, we will be happy to support our customers with remote options. To stay up to date, please subscribe to our newsletter or contact us with any questions you may have.