What to Expect During an FDA Inspection: A Guide for Businesses

4 May 2024

When running a business that deals with food, drugs, cosmetics, or medical devices, it's essential to know what to expect when the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) comes knocking on your door for an inspection.

While this might sound intimidating, understanding the process can help you prepare and ensure compliance. In this guide, we'll walk you through what happens during an FDA inspection, your rights as an employer or employee, and other essential details to keep in mind.

Three needles injecting different colored fluids into a red apple. Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

What Triggers an FDA Inspection?

FDA inspections can be scheduled or unannounced and are typically triggered by various factors like routine inspections, complaints of adverse events, product recalls, and imports.

Rights of Employers and Employees

Before the inspection begins, we want you to understand your rights and responsibilities as both employers and employees:

Employer Rights:

  • Right to be Informed: You have the right to be informed about the purpose and scope of the inspection.
  • Right to Representation: You can have legal representation present during the inspection.
  • Right to Privacy: Inspectors must respect the privacy of sensitive information irrelevant to the inspection.
  • Right to Appeal: If you disagree with the inspection findings, you have the right to appeal.

Employee Rights:

  • Right to Accompaniment: Employees have the right to accompany the inspectors during the inspection.
  • Right to Confidentiality: Inspectors should maintain confidentiality regarding personal information obtained during the inspection.
  • Right to Report Concerns: Employees can report any concerns about the inspection process to their employer or appropriate authorities.

The Inspection Process

Now, to discuss what happens during an FDA inspection:

Like an OSHA inspection, FDA inspectors will start with an opening statement with the purpose and scope of the inspection. Then, a document review will occur, during which inspectors may request to review relevant documents like standard operating procedures, production records, and other quality control documents.

Then, a facility tour should take place, during which inspectors will conduct a thorough walkthrough to assess cleanliness, equipment maintenance, and compliance with regulations. Various interviews with employees may also occur during this process to gather information about regular practices, processes, procedures, and training related to product safety and quality.

Finally, sampling and exit interviews. If necessary, inspectors may collect samples of products or ingredients for further testing and analysis and conduct exit interviews with an employer to discuss the inspectors’ findings and notes of deficiencies or violations.

Responding to Inspection Findings

If the inspection uncovers deficiencies or violations, it's essential to take appropriate action:
* Corrective Action Plan: Develop a corrective action plan to address any deficiencies identified during the inspection.
* Follow-Up Inspection: Sometimes, a follow-up inspection may be required to ensure that corrective actions have been implemented effectively.
* Communication with the FDA: Maintaining open communication with the FDA throughout the process, including providing updates on corrective actions taken, is essential to progressing and eventually moving forward.


While an FDA inspection may seem daunting, preparing for the process can help ensure a smooth experience. By knowing and understanding your rights, cooperating with inspectors, and addressing any findings promptly, you can demonstrate your commitment to compliance and the safety of your products.

Remember, compliance with FDA regulations is essential for protecting consumers and maintaining the integrity of your business.