Purpose ‐ The Southern African Auditor and Training Certification Association (SAATCA) needed to improve their food safety management systems auditor registration scheme and reviewed other food safety auditor registration schemes in operation internationally. This information was used during Advisory Committee forums as the basis for the development of a new scheme to meet the unique requirements of the South African food safety arena. The purpose of this paper is to present this process and its results. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Four schemes in use internationally were reviewed. Their relative merits were discussed and relevant principles adopted or modified to fit the objectives of the SAATCA Advisory Committee. Findings ‐ None of the schemes reviewed adequately addressed the developmental status of food safety management systems auditing in Southern Africa. Existing schemes assumed a well developed knowledge of good hygiene practices (GHP) and good manufacturing practices (GMP). Although this is obviously a requirement for effective food safety management systems, it could not be assumed that all auditors are competent in these principles. A new model is proposed to address the unique local requirements while taking cognisance of international good practice. Originality/value ‐ A new scheme which addressed the requirements of the South African food safety arena was developed. This information may benefit other auditor registration schemes internationally.