This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8Actions arising from 1.1 senior management commitment
3.7 Corrective and preventive actions
BRCGS Packaging Issue 6Actions arising from 1.1 and 1.2 senior management commitment
3.6 Corrective and preventive action
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3Actions arising from 1.1 senior management commitment
3.9 Corrective and preventive actions
BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 4Actions arising from 1.1 and 1.2 senior management commitment
3.3 Corrective and preventive action
FSSC22000 Version 5.1ISO 22000: 10.2 Continual improvement
ISO 22000: 10.1 Nonconformity and corrective action
IFS Food Version 71.3.1 Customer improvement
1.4.2 Improvement actions
5.11 Corrective actions
SQF Edition Review actions
2.5.3 Corrective and preventative action

Are all actions the same?

In the technical world, we’ve always treated all actions in the same way – as non-conformances. Management meeting actions, near miss actions – have always been put into the same system as non-conformances.

When we were developing (our game-changing internal audit, GMP inspection and non-conformance action system, specifically designed for the food industry) this became very apparent, so we decided to tackle it. Here’s our findings along with the clarification we gained.

Improvement actions and non-conformance actions

There are two different types of actions:

  • Improvement actions.
  • Non-conformance actions.


Improvement actions are used to improve something, that’s not currently defective.

Non-conformance actions are used to fix something, that’s currently defective – or non-conforming.

Improvement actions

improvement actionsThe two types of improvement actions are:

  • Remedial action.
  • Proactive action.

Remedial action (REM)

A remedial action remedies the problem before it causes an issue. For example, where a weight is found to be within the acceptable range and is fixed before it reaches the reject limit.

Proactive action (PRO)

A proactive action is one that improves something that’s currently working, for continuous improvement purposes.

Non-conformance actions

non-conformance actionThe two types of non-conformance actions are:

  • Corrective action.
  • Preventive action.

Corrective action (CA)

A corrective action corrects the immediate deficiency.

Preventive action (PA)

A preventive action prevents the deficiency from happening again in the future. has two distinct processes for handling actions:

  1. Improvement actions – this system allows the recording and completion of proactive actions.
  2. Non-conformance actions – the system ensures that corrective and preventive actions are compliant by following a set process.

Handling non-conformance actions

The standard states that non-conformance actions must follow a set process:

  • Identification.
  • Consequence assessment.
  • Defining the action, responsibility and the due date.
  • Completing the action with evidence.
  • Verification.

Handling improvement actions

Because improvement actions don’t correct or prevent a failure to meet the standard (a non-conformance) but are for improvement purposes, they don’t have to follow such a strict process. They must only be recorded and closed out.

Using proactive actions in compliance with the standard

The standard states that proactive action must be applied for continuous improvement purposes:

  • Where there are changes to information sources.
  • To drive cultural improvement, as part of the culture action plan.
  • To drive business objectives, as part of the business action plan.
  • Where staff improvement requests have been agreed for action.
  • When identified during continuous improvement reviews.

Understanding improvement and non-conformance actions

It’s essential that everyone involved in improvement and non-conformance actions understand what they are, the differences between them and when they should be applied.

That’s why the mini training – understanding improvement and non-conformance actions is a prerequisite to all of our other mini trainings in this series.

Understanding improvement and non-conformance actions training

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