Inside view


Photo Alex Dietrich





“When I audit a company, one of the things I check is whether the company is protecting itself against food fraud. I must ensure that there are mechanisms in place that reliably prevent juices or concentrates from being diluted with sugar, for example. I also review documents and work processes in the company, such as tests in the company’s own laboratories and those of external labs and the measures taken to qualify and evaluate suppliers. To do this you need almost detective­like instincts, but certainly a lot of knowledge about the industry. That’s exactly what I like about my job: it’s varied, I get to constantly investigate new companies and I’m professionally challenged.

On location, I take a close look at the site: Is all the equipment in perfect condition? Does the final product match the recipe? Does the work process meet hygiene standards? My checklist is quite extensive. I also examine whether the ingredients being used are those agreed upon with the customers, if they meet the legal requirements for the final product and how this is ensured. The expectations for an audit have increased in recent years, which is why I have to document every step of my work. After all, it can happen that I discover deficiencies and cannot issue a certification. This often has unpleasant consequences for the company and can be expensive.

That’s why there is always a certain tension during my audits. Most companies simply want to demonstrate their best performance when they’re audited. I’m particularly impressed by those companies that are happy to be critiqued and don’t view my criticism as nagging but instead as an opportunity to improve.

In the end, it’s the customer and the consumer who benefit from a company’s continuing improvement—in the form of continuous high-quality products.”