SQF Audit Tip #4 Monitoring

The monitoring of control points and critical control points can provide more information than just an indication that a deviation has occurred, leading to a risk of a hazard at a CCP. I think about this when I inspect walk-in coolers or freezers and I notice ice build-up or dripping condensation. Since, someone is checking the temperature two or more times per day, then why not including a quick inspection of the cooling unit as part of the monitoring activity.
It is smart to add to the monitoring activity the requirement that the person responsible for monitoring will look for “warning signs” that equipment is not operating properly. To do that properly, the monitoring document must include written instructions and have a space on it to prompt and encourage the employee to include those observations on the document right away.
There are really three objectives to monitoring.
1) The monitoring should help spot trends and identify warning signs that a loss of control could happen. By doing this, you are making the monitoring record into a powerful tool that can be used to correct a situation before a deviation occurs. This is why quantitative data (an actual number) is preferred over qualitative data (pass/fail). Quantitative data can provide trending data to show when recorded values are trending toward a critical limit. This is one of the reasons that continuous cooking charts can be so useful. They show with precision and accuracy detailed and easily comparable data.

2) All CCP monitoring must identify when a loss of control exists. This is why rapid analysis is used when taking CCP measurements. Examples of commonly used monitoring methods used to monitor CCPs are; visual inspections, metal detection, temperature measuring and water activity testing. These measurements provide fast results. Microbiological analysis can be used for a CCP, but it is usually considered too times consuming and difficult to manage because it requires holding product for two or more days until the results are ready.

3) Lastly, the monitoring activity must provide useful records to be used to prove that the monitoring activity is being conducted consistently. The records must also be useable as a tool to investigate. For example, when pest control inspection records are detailed on a trending sheet, the data is very useful for investigating pest issues. Many of the old fashion methods or recording activity is not as useful. Records, like hand written service reports and inspection cards are harder to trend and use to investigate pest control issues.