Bloomberg’s Stephanie Armour got the best quote ever in her article “Cantaloupe Deaths Point to Toilet-Paper Quality Inspections” about third-party audits:

“You can make these audits useful by writing them on toilet paper. Then someone would at least use them,” said Mansour Samadpour, president of Lake Forest Park, Washington-based IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group, a food-safety consulting firm, in an interview. “They’re worthless. They give a false sense of security.”

Empty_Toilet_Paper_Roll.jpgThe full article should be online soon.

  • Carl Custer

    Maybe I’m a foolish old geezer but I believe third party audits can be valuable if the auditor is observant, objective, and not shy about pointing out shortcomings in the facility, programs, and operation.
    As both a Federal and a private auditor I’ve served to be the “Third eye” and catch things that the people in every day have missed. In my experience most errors occur operationally by workers that are poorly trained or supervised. That’s not to discount poor facilities or programs. But, it is amazing what folks have overlooked.
    I’ve found it useful to point out the errors to a manager or supervisor as soon as practical and if needed, explain the science behind the observation. Then repeat the observation and science in the report. Hopefully the company can then respond to the report with a “He came, We saw, We fixed”. “Gotchas” are fun but not good business.

  • WaltH

    As usual, Carl puts things succinctly. To be effective, third-party audits must be free of the potential for a conflict of interest. And while minutia are useful as examples, they should serve as indicators of systems that are faulty. Audits must be constructive in rectifying problems so that the appropriate people will be motivated (and supported) to heed them. Audits need to graduate from toilet paper to become an action plan; audits need to be proactive and not like toilet paper which is used after the fact.

  • Sam

    It might be unfair to compare third party audits to toilet paper. Wait, no, I was thinking of something else… this is right on.

  • Hector Chaparro

    Well we can also say about the same about IEH testing parameters and procedures, if they would ever share them, OH i forgot they are never wrong because nobody knows what goes on back there

  • The GFSI audits seem to have evolved concurrently with attempts to apply risk assessment to production practices, ostensibly to put the most attention on the biggest, and/or most likely risks, tapering off to purely hypothetical risks that have miniscule consequences or likelihood. In an ideal world, each potential impacts and/or likelihood of occurrence can be quantified. This seems often to be difficult if not impossible. But in the absence of such quantification of risk or likelihood, what is the basis for including an item in an audit, or leaving it out as being insignificant?