We have a strong heritage of sourcing with integrity. One of the reasons we weren’t affected by the horsemeat scandal of 2013 was due to the controls we place on ingredients.
We routinely carry out audits of suppliers to ensure that our expectations on food safety and integrity are being met. All suppliers must agree to be audited on a specified frequency by M&S or their approved third parties against brand values, policy statements, Manufacturing Standards and Guidelines, and commit to taking action as a result of any findings.
Whilst we believe our audit standards are robust and industry-leading, we know we cannot be complacent. Over the last year, we’ve spent time consulting with our suppliers and industry experts such as Chris Elliott – the Institute for Global Food Security Director and Professor of Food Safety at Queen’s University in Belfast – on how we can improve. As a result, at the end of July 2015 we changed our audit system as part of our strategy of prioritising food safety and quality.
All suppliers of Retail Products and M&S Controlled Raw Materials (‘A List’) are subject to the following audits:
- Food Safety Audits are unannounced. Compliance is checked against our Food Safety Manufacturing Standard and Guidance.
- Integrity Audits are unannounced and we expect to be on the factory floor or in the office working within 15 minutes of arriving on site. Compliance is checked against a number of our key Codes of Practice (e.g. Segregation, Integrity, Quality, Ethical Trade, and our non-GM policy, etc)
Audits are carried out by FSIG (our approved third party audit providers), the length of which will depend on the size, scale and complexity of the product.
New suppliers receive an initial Code of Practice Audit paid for by M&S (due to be changed to be chargeable to the supplier from January 2021). This checks compliance against all applicable elements of the Food Safety and Integrity Standards (such as site hygiene, brand integrity and fundamental food safety systems) which allows us to start production safely. This audit is done in preparation for proceeding to the next audits of Food Safety and Integrity. Follow-up and subsequent audits are charged to the supplier.
Based on the results of the audit, suppliers are assigned a rating based on the number and type of non-conformances and how they are progressing with addressing non-conformances from previous audits. Our audit gradings are as follows:
|Outstanding||Exceeds M&S requirements |
|Good||Meets M&S requirements |
|Needs Improvement||Improvement needed to meet all M&S requirements|
|Unacceptable||Failing to meet M&S requirements |
Existing suppliers are audited at a frequency determined by risk assessment. This could range from every 9 months to a maximum of once every 2 years.
Where new suppliers receive a Red grading, a re-audit is generally carried out within 3 months of the original audit date.
Audit findings and corrective actions are stored on our online Quality Management System (called Connect). The supplier must sign off all audit actions within agreed timescales.