Food Safety
February 22, 2024

Why I Love Being a Food Safety Auditor

Its 3.45am and my alarm goes off. I force my mind to stay focused on why I set my alarm for this unearthly hour, and then it dawns on me (literally). My check-in time for the resort seaplane is at 5am, and I need to take the 4.30am ferry to the airport. It’s the third time I have the same check-in time this month, but hey-ho, I don’t have the luxury of choosing the transfer time. As I drag myself out of bed, the excitement of going to another property starts to stir in me, it’s an old feeling I’ve grown accustomed to. What will be in store for me this visit?

Come 12 noon and I’m starving, and I can’t think of a worse position to be in when one is hungry, staring at rows and rows of food in the main dry store, and trying to think of something sensible to say with half a dozen nervous store staff staring at you. Needless to say, my hunger soon subsides after I find some expired items, and was therefore able to concentrate on the task at hand.

Its 6pm and I find I’m slower than I want to be. I am finding plenty of unlabelled food, long nails, flies, and dirty equipment. I’m tired and decide to call it a day. The Chef invites me to their buffet restaurant for an early dinner, something I can’t resist, as I love food – any kind. The dinner is half social, half business, as I chat away to resort personnel whilst I eat. I shine in situations like this, networking situations, it is something very few other professions can offer.

I’m back in my room, it’s now 10.30pm, and my alarm goes off. I’m not in bed yet, but I know it’s time to make my way back to the main kitchen. The Pest Control Operator comes in at 11pm and I want to make sure he’s doing a good job. The checks are satisfactory and I sleep well that night.

Its 5.30am and my alarm goes off, I wake up, groggy, unsure of where I am, again! Then I realise that I am still in the resort. The supply dhoni arrives at 6am and I want to be there so I jump up and get ready. I do try to physically participate in the receiving operations – passing the boxes, de-boxing, taking food temperatures, documenting, and inspecting the fruit and vegetable sanitizing process. Another round of interaction and an invaluable learning opportunity for me.

The rest of the day is filled with training. I have 2 sessions today, yet more opportunity to mingle, tutor and learn. That’s why this is never dull for us, the work is so varied.

At dinner, it’s Japanese night, my favourite cuisine. The Chef joins me tonight, and I can’t think of a better person to share these experiences with. Food and company – unbeatable!

Back in my room, its past 9pm, but I’m geared up, not ready for bed yet. I’m preparing my audit de-brief presentation for the next morning. I am told the GM will be present, this is my opportunity to make an impact and to push for support and commitment for HACCP certification for the resort.

Its 7am and my alarm goes off, but I’m already awake, I beat the alarm today. I make the final touches to my presentation. I am slightly nervous, so much is resting on this crucial meeting… Will I convince management to support and divert resources to the HACCP program?

Its 11am and I’m back on the departure jetty, awaiting my seaplane that will take me back to Male’. I’m smiling as I chat to the Chef and F&B Director, who have both come to see me off. It’s been another successful, and genuinely satisfying resort visit. Together, we have agreed on the improvements needed; the gaps that need to be closed. Responsibilities have been allocated, deadlines and accountability established. We are on the roadmap to HACCP certification and everyone is clear on what needs to be done to get there.

Its noon as I look out of my seaplane window and gaze back at the resort I just left, I am filled with a mixture of thoughts. My heart swells with pride for the resort; they have worked hard to get to get to the standards they are now, their continued commitment to improve and get certified is so encouraging.

As my plane touches down at Male seaplane terminal, I know that my work with this resort is far from over. The arduous task of preparing the fully pictorial 100 page report awaits me, fulfilling all the pre-requisites with the resort, and continuing to mark their progress on the HACCP road map of success.

Who am I, in relation to the resort? Their consultant? Their HACCP guru? Their HACCP manager? An indispensable adviser? A food safety expert? Their counsellor?

I truly believe I’m none of the above – I am simply an instrument to help resorts achieve high levels of hygiene and safety, and enable them to be recognised for their achievements.

And when I educate them, I am simply an instrument to help them learn and develop.

How about job satisfaction? Its immense. Knowing that we have helped our resort employees grow and develop as individuals fills our hearts with pride. Even a small instruction carried out satisfactorily by the client may reduce the risk of injury, harm or illness. What other job can give you so much satisfaction, apart from perhaps the medical services? We make a difference for our clients and help protect brands.

And personal gain? Of course. Only few other professions will give us exposure to multiple brands, concepts, and management styles. And - when we go into operations and ask questions, we are not only checking the knowledge of the food handlers, we are inadvertently learning ourselves. Not to mention the fabulous people you encounter on these visits. We meet and interact with incredibly passionate people who love what they do, and love to share it with others. Lifelong friendships and partnerships are formed.

I’m now on the airport ferry back to my office in Male’. My mind is now on my next resort, which I will be going to in 2 days time, in another Atoll – another property, another brand – what will be in store for me there? The cycle starts again.

It’s never dull being a Food Safety Auditor. What do you think?

Written by
Babli Jahau