With the publication of IFS Food version 7, IFS introduced the term assessment instead of audit. We will gradually adopt it in the other IFS Standards as well. Here we explain what the term encompasses.
An IFS Assessment includes more than auditing
The IFS Assessment includes more than just auditing. It encompasses both audit and inspection techniques that are applied alternately to evaluate the processing activities and the products coming from those processes to ensure they are safe, meet legal requirements, and are compliant with customer specifications.
The definitions of audit and inspection in the IFS Food Standard
In the IFS Food version 7 standard, we define an audit as a "systematic, independent, documented process for obtaining records, statements of fact or other relevant information and assessing them objectively to determine the extent to which specified requirements are fulfilled". In the IFS Assessment, auditing is limited to examining supporting management processes that lead to a compliant process and product.
An inspection is defined as "the examination of a process and product, product design or installation, and determination of its conformity with specific requirements or, based on professional judgement, with general requirements. Inspection of a process includes an examination of product characteristics, customer requirements, persons, facilities, technology, and methodology".
The unique approach of the IFS Assessment always has an on-site component
The IFS Assessment is conducted by following an assessment trail - a uniform path the auditor follows by choosing relevant samples, performing an on-site evaluation and a documentation and record review. At least 50 % of the total IFS Assessment duration has to be allocated to the on-site evaluation to allow sufficient time to comprehensively audit and inspect the products and the processes. The documentation and record review include cross-checking of related documents, verifying the information collected, and the evaluation of further requirements. This way, the IFS Assessment assures that IFS certified companies deliver trusted products.
This approach perfectly fits with the spirit of ISO/IEC 17065 norm on the conformity assessment of processes for IFS "leading to safe, legal and compliant products".