What is SQF?
The SQF Code is designed for use in all sectors of the food industry as a HACCP-based quality management system to reduce the incidence of unsafe food reaching the marketplace. It is a food safety program that also covers product quality. It offers benefits to suppliers and buyers at all links in the food supply chain by addressing the buyer’s food safety and quality requirements, and provides a solution for the suppliers.
First launched in 1994, The Food Marketing Institute acquired the rights to the SQF program in 2003 and established the SQF Institute (SQFI) division to manage the program. Now in its seventh edition, SQF Code is recognized by GFSI as meeting its benchmark requirements. New modules have been added to address GMP requirements within the following industries: Animal Feed, Pet Food, and Farming of Plant Products.
The program provides independent certification that a supplier’s food safety and quality management system complies with international and domestic food safety regulations. This enables suppliers to help assure their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared, and handled according to the highest possible standards, at all levels of the supply chain.
The SQF Code is divided into three certification levels: Level 1 focused on food safety fundamentals; at Level 2, certified HACCP food safety plans are recognized by GFSI; and at Level 3, comprehensive food safety and quality management system actions exceed the GFSI benchmark requirements.
The SQF program has many unique features that help ensure trust and consistency in the auditing process. Certification bodies that are licensed by the SQFI to perform SQF audits are subject to regular assessments of their certification and audit activities by internationally recognized accreditation bodies licensed by SQFI. Auditors are only permitted to perform audits in the food industry sectors for which they have been registered, and in which they have extensive expertise and experience.
Certifying an organization’s food management system against the SQF program requirements brings the following benefits:
- Enhancement of the organization’s food safety management system;
- It demonstrates commitment to producing and trading safe food;
- It increases consumer confidence in the products produced;
- Brand equity is enhanced;
- It prepares organizations for inspection by regulatory authorities and other stakeholders;
- It improves new market and customer prospects; and
- If SQF level 3 is achieved organizations can use the SQF quality mark on their products.
PJFSC – IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM STEPS (may include)
Step 1 – Gap Assessment:
Perry Johnson consultants will assess the current state of compliance of your facility. This assessment will include a review of your facility’s current practices including assessment of documentation required by the SQF code and executional practices, such as cleaning methods. Additionally, the consultant will evaluate the HACCP plan, if in place. At the conclusion of the initial consult, a written report will be provided. This report will identify the areas where the organization meets the requirements and where the organization does not meet the requirements to attain certification.
Step 2 – Documentation Development:
Development of the Food Safety Manual, food safety procedures including procedures addressing prerequisite programs, and the HACCP plan, including identifying records to be retained as proof of ongoing food safety compliance. The documentation preparation will be conducted off site. Perry Johnson will help ensure that the system established is robust, effective, transparent and consistent.
Step 3 – Consult:
Assist in implementing the developed program, including training management and staff on executing documented processes. Perry Johnson will also assist in training members of the Food Safety Team on maintenance of the Food Safety System.
Step 4 – Internal Audit:
Once the Food Safety system has been established, documented and implemented, Perry Johnson will perform a full system internal audit.
Step 5 – Close-out Nonconformances:
Thus preparing the organization for the certification audit by an accredited certification body.