SQF; is it the panacea for food safety and food borne Illness mitigation?

June 13th, 2012

How should should retail food companies implement SQF?

According to Dictionary.com a panacea is a remedy for all disease or ills; a cure-all or an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties. Although this author does not believe it to be a panacea, SQF is certainly an important building block if not a corner stone of any global food safety program.

The SQF (Safe Quality Food) Program is a leading, global food safety and quality certification program and management system designed to meet the needs of buyers and suppliers worldwide. There are two sections of SQF. SQF 1000 is targeted at primary producers and SQF 2000 is targeted at manufacturers and distributors. More detailed inforamtion can be found at www.sqf.com. Schools are held regularly around the country for both groups and detailed information about these schools can also be found at www.fmi.org under the calendar section.

There are ten basic steps to implementing an SQF Program. These steps are taken from the SQF manual.

1. The Buyer requests the desired level of certification to be achieved by the supplier.  
2. The Supplier designates a staff member as its SQF Practitioner to lead development of its SQF System, or hires an external SQF Consultant licensed by The SQF Institute.
3. The SQF Practitioner is trained at a licensed SQF Training Center.
4. The SQF Practitioner conducts a gap analysis of the supplier’s current system.  
5. The Supplier selects an SQF licensed Certification Body to perform a certification audit.
6. A Certification Audit is conducted consisting of a document review and on-site audit.
7. An Auditor recommends certification if no critical or major non-conformities are found and the audit result indicates an acceptable rating.
8. The Certification Body Review Council makes the final decision and the SQF Certificate and audit report are issued. The SQF Certificate is valid for 12 months.
9. If critical or major non-conformities are found, the supplier takes corrective action, which is verified before certification is granted.
10. Re-certification audits are conducted annually and within 30 days of the scheduled audit date. Audit frequency can be either annual, semi annual or more frequent depending on the type of certificate issued and the risk level.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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