You have received an action plan from your auditor and do not know exactly how to proceed now? First of all: Don't stress - deviations are common in IFS audits and can usually be resolved quickly. Next step: read our helpful guide and find out everything you need to know now.

The time has come, the audit is over. Now you will shortly receive a preliminary action plan in .xls format, which your auditor will send you by e-mail. In it, you should now enter the corrections and the corrective actions for each deviation or non-conformity, always provided with a deadline, a responsible person and the status of implementation.

Please note that all corrections and corrective actions must also be translated into English.

What is the difference between a correction
and a corrective action?

A corrective action is an action aimed at eliminating an identified deviation and/or nonconformity in the short term. A corrective action goes deeper and aims to eliminate the root cause of an identified deviation and/or nonconformity. So while a corrective action has a short-term effect, a corrective action has a long-term effect.

How much time do I have for the corrective action or
corrective-action plan?

Once you receive the preliminary corrective action plan, you have a maximum of four weeks to return the completed plan to the auditor as an .cls file and submit evidence of implementation.

Implement corrections

Corrections should be implemented as soon as possible. IFS specifies that within four weeks of receipt of the preliminary action plan at the latest, the evidence of implementation must be complete and properly submitted to the certification body. If this deadline is not met, the company must undergo a full IFS initial or recertification audit.

IFS also gives tight deadlines for certification bodies to complete the process. It is therefore important that you send your auditor the evidence of implementation after three weeks at the latest, so that any necessary follow-up work can be carried out. This will ensure that the four-week deadline is not exceeded.

What you need to know about evidence of implementation of

Evidence of the implementation of corrections must be supported by actual implementation of the correction, which is the only way the auditor can approve the action plan. Evidence can be provided with e.g. photos or scanned documents, depending on the type of deviation.

Please insert the photos about proofs into a .doc file, together with an explanation, which correction was implemented in the respective photo. Please save this as a .pdf. Please note that you do not send photos in original size. A 75 dpi resolution is usually sufficient.

To ensure that the proofs can be assigned correctly and quickly, please name the files as follows: NameCompany_Correction_Statement of IFS requirement point(s), e.g. SampleCompany_Correction_IFS_2-2-1.

Please be sure to always summarize the deviations per measure, do not combine all deviations into one file.

Implement corrective actions

Implementing corrective actions successfully and sustainably can take longer than four weeks. Please provide adequate justification in the .xls spreadsheet as to why you need more time for implementation and note that this justification must also be translated into English. At the latest before the next IFS surveillance audit, the implementation of the corrective actions must have taken place.

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.