Inspection audit trails

Developing good quality recordkeeping and documentation is important for traceability (commonly referred to as an “audit trail”).

What does an inspector look for when performing an audit trail?

The most important element of a good audit trail is seeing a common link between all of your production steps and all of your records. For instance, using lot code numbers easily allows an inspector or you to work through each phase of your operation — ordering, receiving, processing, and distribution to name a few — to make documentation trackable.

How do I prepare for an audit trail?

During the inspection, you should expect to walk your inspector through at least two audit trail exercises to determine the effectiveness and accuracy of your recordkeeping systems.

What types of exercises happen during an audit trail?

A sales audit verifies the relationship between sales of organic product(s) and the income from the sales over a specific period of time. It verifies the quantity of product sold in comparison with the quantity produced and income received.

A trace-back audit verifies that your records are sufficient to track organic products from the time of acquisition until departure from your operation, including all activities in between. It examines that your records about the production of a specific lot of a finished crop/product or invoice of a crop/product sold match.

A mass balance audit verifies that the organic ingredients/inputs purchased and used by the operation were sufficient in quantity to produce the organic crops/products that were sold.

What if I have organic and non-organic production?

If you have organic and non-organic production, you will need to make available documents related to production of both upon request.

What if no organic production will take place prior to inspection?

If your operation is organic-only, and no organic production will take place prior to the inspection, but you have a complete recordkeeping system in place that demonstrates auditability of the system (e.g., a set of production records from a test or validation batch), these records may be sufficient to verify this requirement.

What if I have no recordkeeping trail yet for an audit?

If there are no records available to audit at the time of inspection, or the inspector is not able to effectively audit your recordkeeping system for organic production, we will require an additional inspection.

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