Veterinarian offers tips for surviving a CSI audit
While audits are part of doing business, many pork producers still worry about going through the process. Amber Stricker, DVM, steps in to help clients prepare for or undergo an audit, which is typically the Common Swine Industry (CSI) audit.
“The industry came together to agree on one platform and make (audits) less burdensome for producers,” said Stricker, who works with Suidae Health & Production Vet Clinic, Algona, Iowa.
Developed in 2014 by the National Pork Board, the CSI audit is a standardized animal-welfare and food-safety audit required by packers and processors. It combines standards from original packer audits and from the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program.
The standards are the same for all producers, regardless of operation size. While it is voluntary, producers must comply if they want to sell hogs to a packer, Stricker told Pig Health Today.
“People don’t like to be audited,” she said, adding that producers understand that it is necessary and offers what the consumer wants — more accountability and transparency.
Stricker helps producers prepare for a CSI audit by conducting an assessment, which is a mirror of an audit. She also conducts a site assessment if a packer calls and says an operation’s assessment has expired after 3 years and a new one is needed.
The audit mandates automatic failure on five critical animal-welfare areas, like an act of abuse during the audit. Most farms do not have these issues.
To pass an audit, Stricker suggests producers follow their standard operating procedures on a daily basis and complete documentation.
“I tell producers to pick a couple of things and work on making improvements,” she said. “Maybe focus on keeping really complete medication and treatment records, and make daily observations. After those become routine, move on to something else and try to get better.”
A drug-residue issue can trigger an FDA audit conducted by FDA auditors. Stricker said this is a big reason why medication and treatment records are very important. They are an insurance policy when it comes to an FDA audit.
Finally, producers nervous about CSI audits should not worry as long as they are doing a good job.
“Look at the audit as a way to showcase what you do every day,” she suggested. “This is your livelihood. You don’t want to intentionally do anything that’s not in the best interest of the animal.
“Don’t be defensive, and prepare for the audit to go well with your records ready,” Stricker concluded.