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Safe Quality Food (SQF)

GFSI-Level Food Safety Certification

Demonstrate leadership in food safety and quality management through certification to Safe Quality Food (SQF) standards. SQF Code Edition 7.2 is the international food safety standard preferred by many of the world's leading retailers and food service companies, and is recognized under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Manage your risk and build confidence in your products with SQF.

Companies of all sizes, from small and medium-sized operators to international companies, have chosen SCS as their certifier of choice. With nearly 30 years of HACCP food safety management and auditing experience, SCS Global Services provides expert SQF certification services. Moreover, we offer a wide range of food industry certifications, and can help you earn recognition in multiple categories from safety to sustainability.

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Carole Langston
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SQF Certification

Program Details

Eligibility

SQF Code Edition 7.2 (Ed. 7.2) is designed for use by all sectors of the food industry, from primary production, manufacturing, and processing to transport, storage, distribution and retailing. Ed. 7.2 applies to all industry sectors and replaces Code Ed. 7.1.

Certification Criteria

SQF is a HACCP-based standard for control of food quality and food safety. The scope of SQF certification is site- and product-specific. Compliance with the following mandatory system elements is required for certification: management commitment, document control and records, specification and product development, food safety fundamentals and plans, SQF system verification, product identification, trace, withdrawal and recall, food defense, identity preserved foods, and training.

GFSI-level Harmonized GAP audits within Module 7H are available at no additional charge.

Certification Levels

SCS can help you pursue the appropriate level of SQF certification. GFSI recognizes Level 2 and Level 3 certificates:

  • Level 1 - Food Safety Fundamentals: Entry level for new and developing businesses covering only GAP/GMP/GDP requirements and basic food safety elements.
  • Level 2 - Food Safety Plan: Recognizes suppliers that have implemented a HACCP food safety plan in addition to meeting Level 1 requirements.
  • Level 3 - Comprehensive Food Safety and Quality Plan: Recognizes suppliers that have implemented a HACCP food quality plan in addition to Level 1 and Level 2 system elements.

Audits are required every 6-12 months to maintain certification; frequency is based on the audit score rating.

Pre-Assessment

SCS can walk you through a pre-assessment process. Pre-assessment is a non-scored mock audit designed to assess the level of your preparedness for a certification audit. Ask about combining a pre-assessment with your initial audit for greater efficiency.

Complementary Services

In addition to SQF audits, SCS offers a full suite of food safety and food quality testing. Combine SQF Certification with Organic Certification, Certified Sustainably Grown or Fair Trade Certification, for added operational and cost benefits.

Process

  1. Apply for Auditing

    Fill out an SCS Application form. This provides us with the details of your site and operation. SCS returns a proposal for your approval with suggested scope of work, timeline and quote. To initiate the certification process, return a signed proposal and Work Order, and register and select SCS with SQF in their online assessment database.

  2. Complete Questionnaire

    SCS sends you a form requesting documentation that the auditors will need to prepare for the on-site audit.

  3. Desk Audit

    You submit documentation outlining management processes and operation procedures. We review these documentation for completeness, conduct a desk review, and issue findings. You can address findings before the next step. SCS then contacts you to schedule the on-site audit.

  4. Schedule the Audit

    SCS assigns an auditor and audit dates are proposed. Once an audit date is confirmed, an audit plan is provided to ensure that your team is prepared.

  5. On-Site Audit

    An on-site audit of your operation iscarried out to ensure that your operation complies with the SQF Standard. A team meeting is required at the beginning and the end of the audit. At the conclusion of the audit, the auditor explains the audit results, including any non-conformities.

  6. Complete Corrective Actions and Technical Review

    Identified non-conformities must be addressed and evidence of correction provided to SCS within 30 days. The auditor reviews and closes out non-conformities as warranted. Once this process is complete, the auditors submit an audit report.

  7. Make Certification Decision

    SCS conducts a final technical review of the audit report and Corrective Action documentation, then makes the final certification decision.

  8. Receive Certificate

    If certification is granted, SCS issues the certificate and final report to the facility/operation and posts its reports to the SCS Certified Supplier Directory and to retailer databases when requested.

Benefits

SQF certification through SCS provides numerous benefits:

  • Limit Risk - Minimize the potential for food safety incidents and recalls.
  • Become a Preferred Supplier - Many retailers require SQF certification for their manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Competitive Edge - Assure your customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled in accordance with rigorous standards.
  • Improvement over Time - Demonstrate continual improvements to quality and safety processes.
  • Professional service - SCS is known for our thorough and timely audits.
  • Combined services - Take advantage of our broad food and agriculture certification expertise, from safety to sustainability, to earn recognition for multiple achievements most cost-effectively.

Training

SCS Global Services offers IHA Accredited HACCP Training, including on-site courses, webinars and customized trainings, throughout the year in North America. Our expert trainers can tailor their curricula to meet your needs.

  • Sign up for one of our upcoming Safe Quality Food (SQF) or GFSI training courses.
  • Ask about our comprehensive HACCP training for in-house practitioners, managers and consultants.
  • Find out about our food safety webinars.

FAQs

How does SQF differ from other food safety certification programs?

SQF is the only GFSI-recognized standard that incorporates a QUALITY certification component. SQF is also the only program, recognized by GFSI that is headquartered outside of Europe. SQF improves process management by helping to proactively identify and manage risk so as to avoid stock recoveries, market withdrawals and rework.

How much does SQF certification cost?

There are several costs associated with becoming SQF certified, including registration with the SQF database, the certification audit, and SQF Practitioner training (optional). Fees vary somewhat depending on the extent of your operations. Contact your SCS representative, Carole Langston, CLangston@scscertified.com, 510-452-9080, to discuss pricing details.

How far in advance should I schedule my audit?

Due to the growing demand for SQF certification, please be prepared to schedule an audit at least 2-3 months in advance.

What is a food sector category (FSC)?

An FSC, or food sector category, is a food industry classification established by SQF. Determine your company's classification by viewing the listing of SQF Food Sector Categories.

Where can I find the self-assessment checklist?

The SQF self-assessment checklist is available for purchase on the SQF website.

What is a SQF practitioner and how can I become one?

An SQF practitioner is an individual designated by a supplier to develop, validate, verify, implement and maintain a supplier SQF System. As a part of each audit, SCS verifies that the SQF practitioner meets the following requirements:

  1. Employed full time at the supplier company with the responsibility of managing the suppliers' SQF System
  2. Completed a HACCP training course, and has experience and competency in implementing and maintaining HACCP-based food safety plans
  3. Understands the SQF Code and the requirements to implement and maintain SQF systems relevant to the Suppliers Scope of Certification. Implementing the SQF Systems online with its examination fulfills this requirement.
 
How long does an audit take?

This depends on the nature and size of the organization and the level of certification requested. For example, a vegetable growing and packing audit at SQF Level 1 may take less than one day, whereas a complex manufacturing facility audit at SQF Level 3 may take 2-3 days to complete.

Once certified, can I use the SQF logo? If so, what are the rules and restrictions?

SQF Professionals and Level 2 and 3 certified companies are granted authorization to use of the SQFI logo on any internal materials. The SQF logo can be obtained from SQFI at info@sqfi.com. 

Level 3 certified companies are additionally granted permission to use of the SQF logo (the SQF shield) on any products and marketing materials. The SQF logo can be obtained from SCS upon completion of your audit.

Certification Manual

SCS guidance for becoming SQF certified

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