What is a Vertical Audit?

14 Jun 2024

Navigate Food Safety Solutions

What is a Vertical Audit?

Internal audits are essential in ensuring the integrity and efficiency of various systems and programs, especially in food safety management. In this blog post, we will dive into the concept of vertical audits—a method that might be new to you, but is incredibly effective in providing a rapid overview of your records. Let’s break it down step-by-step.

Understanding Vertical Audits

So, what exactly is a vertical audit? Imagine standing in a library and randomly selecting a book, then asking for all the information related to that book without any exclusions. Similarly, in a vertical audit, we pick a product and a lot code at random and then gather all the records related to that product. This audit method helps us sample records swiftly while still providing a comprehensive snapshot of the overall state of record-keeping.

Why Conduct a Vertical Audit?

You might be wondering why we would choose this method over others. The reason is simple: it’s the fastest and most reliable way to gauge the condition of your records. By conducting a vertical audit, we can touch on every program within the system quickly, assessing which parts are functioning well and which areas need improvement.

The primary advantage of a vertical audit lies in its formal sampling method, which adds a layer of rigour to the process. It minimizes subjectivity and helps avoid the bias that often occurs when individuals cherry-pick documents. Essentially, it short-circuits any potential manipulation of the auditing process, providing a true and unaltered view of your records.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Audits

The term “vertical audit” comes from the way we visualize our management systems. Picture your system as a stack of processes or programs, layered one on top of the other. Each program represents a layer in this stack. A vertical audit is like taking a very thin slice from the top to the bottom of this stack—sampling a bit of each layer.

In contrast, a horizontal or process audit involves examining one of these layers in great detail. Instead of sampling across multiple programs, a horizontal audit focuses on a single process, providing an in-depth review of that particular layer.


In summary, vertical audits are a powerful tool in the realm of food safety management. They allow for a rapid, informed assessment of your entire system by sampling records across all programs. This method helps identify strengths and weaknesses efficiently, ensuring your management system operates effectively.

By understanding and implementing vertical audits, organizations can enhance their auditing processes, ensuring better management and compliance with industry standards.