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Food Safety Certification

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QSE: 27+ Years of Experience in Food safety Consulting and Audits

Summary of Food Safety Management System for Food Safety Certifications

Food Safety System Certifications

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) department of the USA has time and again issued several notifications and reports one of them is cited below.

“each year roughly 48 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 dies of food-borne diseases.” Source: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-02-14-00420.pdf). This shows the importance FDA has attached to Food Safety Management Systems and their rigorous food safety audits on organizations that manufacture, package, store or transport food consumed by Humans or animals.

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is the international body which accorded recognition to some food standards to which detail the requirements for food safety management systems. Most popular and latest versions among them are, BRC version 8, FSSC 22000:2018, IFS version 6.1. and. SQF edition 8.1. Prerequisite conditions are detailed in chapters/modules of the SQF edition 8.1, BRC version 8, IFS version 6.1. standards.

BRC food safety certification (British Retail Consortium) food safety audit is performed by a third-party BRC food safety certification bodies, through a BRC food safety audit on BRC Food Safety Management System. BRC food certification is achieved once any organization develops BRC food safety system and implements effectively through BRC Internal food safety audits using BRC food safety audit checklists for effective demonstration of BRC Standard compliance. BRC Food Safety Team Leader may use BRC food safety consultants or BRC food safety consulting services or BRC training services or BRC internal auditing services to effectively develop BRC Food Safety System, train all employees involved and to conduct BRC Internal Food Safety Audits. BRC Global food safety standard is GFSI recognized standard. BRC is a GFSI standard.

FSSC 22000 Certification (Food Safety System Certification) audit is performed by third-party ISO certification bodies, through an FSSC 22000 food safety audit on FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management System. FSSC 22000 food certification is achieved once any organization develops FSSC food safety system and implements effectively through FSSC 22000 internal food safety audits using FSSC 22000 food safety audit checklists or FSSC 22000 Standard Checklist for effective demonstration of FSSC 22000 Food Safety System Standard compliance. FSSC Food Safety Team Leader may use FSSC food safety consultants or FSSC food safety consulting services or FSSC training services or FSSC internal food safety auditing services to effectively develop FSSC Food Safety System/Standard manual, train all employees involved and to conduct FSSC internal food safety audits. FSSC Global Food Safety Standard is GFSI recognized standard. ISO certification bodies conduct food safety audits on FSSC 22000 standard and issue FSSC 22000 certification FSSC 22000 is a GFSI standard.

IFS food safety certification (International Featured Standard) audit is performed by a third-party IFS food safety certification bodies, through an IFS food safety audit on IFS Food Safety Management System. IFS food safety certification is achieved once any organization develops IFS food safety system and implements effectively through IFS internal food safety audits using IFS food safety audit checklists for effective demonstration of IFS Standard compliance. IFS Food Safety Team Leader may use IFS food safety consultants or IFS food safety consulting services or IFS training services or IFS internal food safety auditing services to effectively develop IFS Food Safety System, train all employees involved and to conduct IFS internal food safety audits. IFS food safety standard requires meeting Food Safety regulatory requirements of any given country. IFS Global food safety standard is GFSI recognized standard. IFS is a GFSI standard.

Compliance to SQF standard (Edition 8.1) leads to SQF food safety certification with effective implementation. SQF compliance to SQF Food Safety System requires SQF practitioner to effectively implement SQF Food Safety System using SQF food safety audit check list. SQF Practitioner may use SQF food safety consulting to assist in developing SQF Food Safety System, SQF Training to all employees involved and SQF Food Safety Team, and SQF Internal Food Safety Auditing to measure effective implementation of developed SQF Food Safety System. SQF Global food safety standard is GFSI recognized standard. SQF is a GFSI standard.

The Food Safety System Certification Standard FSSC 22000:2018 version 5 is a combination of ISO 22000:2018 and has replaced Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for prerequisites in with ISO/TS 22002-1 through 7 where a variable need to be selected based on requirements of the facility. Example Packaging industry needs to select ISO/TS 22002-4.  FSSC Global food safety standard is GFSI recognized standard.

Food Manufacturing organizations need to select ISO/TS 22002-1, red meat production organizations need to select ISO/TS 22002-2 so on and so forth.

Similarly, Module 13 in SQF deals with requirements for Packaging. IFS – Pac deals with requirements for packaging of food irrespective of the fact, whether the package has contact with food or it does not have a contact with food.

Food Safety Management Systems are comprehensive Food Safety Management to be implemented by a Food Safety Team exclusively formed under a Food Safety Leader by all food safety organizations. Formulation of Food Safety Team with a designated Food Safety Team leader is a mandatory requirement for all organizations involved in the preparation of food safety certification. Food Safety System is to ensure that all hazards that may cause contamination to food are eliminated.

All food safety management systems (BRC, FSSC, IFS, and SQF) require elimination of food safety hazards through HACCP and HARPC to meet FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) requirements, in all the processes involved in Farming, Produce Handling, Manufacturing/Food Processing, Storage, Packaging and Transporting for Food consumed by humans or animals.

Food Safety Standards details all requirements such as requirements for building, working conditions, floor conditions, cleaning techniques, pest management, security at entry points etc. which are to be followed and checked off on specified periodic basis for compliance.

For ease of operations some companies do use Food Safety Audit Check Lists for verifications done in close intervals such as every day.

Food Safety consultants can prepare your organizations to have a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) and associated documents/records to show as evidence of having implemented the system.

The systems are confirmed through First or Second Party Food Safety Audits to be performed by the experts from within the facility or external certified food safety consultants as Second party auditors.

Third-Party food safety audit is conducted by Accredited Certifying Bodies accredited by SQFI for SQF, BRC by board for BRC, IFS by IFS approved agencies signatories to IAF and MLA, and FSSC certifying bodies are approved by agencies like ANSI who accord recognition to third-party certifying agencies for ISO.

All organizations engaged in farming, produce handling, manufacturing, processing, storage or handling of food, food packaging and supporting organizations within the food chain are subject to FDA food safety audit at one time or the other.

Since the number is large and the resources are few, whenever an element of doubt is expressed by a consumer or a member of Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) of FDA takes action that would be severe, and the entire quantity of food is to be recalled and trashed involving millions of Dollars.

Food Safety Audits are a mandatory requirement by the enforcing agencies. However, Food Safety Inspections can either be delayed or avoided by getting the facility certified to GFSI accredited Food Safety Standard which is to be renewed annually to maintain the BRC, FSSC, IFS or SQF food safety certification.

Food Safety Consulting firms help organizations to form a Food Safety Team, Train the Food Safety Leader, build a FSMS.  Once a company has developed a FSMS and gets certified to any GFSI recognized standard the organization becomes a Food Safety Compliant Organization.

FSMS compels companies to create documents and records to give confidence to the food safety certification bodies that systems are being followed and evidence is available to show that systems are implemented.

The implementation is certified by an accredited agency thus completing the loop. Internal Food Safety Audit is conducted by Food Safety Consultants or Food Safety Consulting Companies to help the organizations find deficiencies in their implementation, make correction and take corrective actions and help in conducting Mock Food Safety Audit Drills.

Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. (QSE) is a Premier Food Safety Consulting, Food Safety Auditing, and Food Safety Training firm engaged in the field of Food Safety Consulting for over 27 Years now.

Food safety audits are conducted by competent and qualified food safety auditors of QSE.

These food safety audits will be more thorough than food safety audits by Certifying Bodies and will help companies pass food safety certification food safety audits without any nonconformity.

QSE has assisted over 700 Organizations for various certifications in ISO and in sector specific standards like Food Safety. Aerospace, Automotive and Telecommunications.

QSE food safety consultants provide unique simplified documentation system which is easy to follow and maintain over the years.

It covers all the requirements of the standard including the implicit intent of the standard. QSE has a time tested and proven 10 step disciplined path approach which is insensitive to failure.

The BRC Global Standards are a leading global safety and quality food safety certification program.

It is recognized throughout the world by over 17,000 certificated suppliers in 90 countries.

The BRC Global Standards are extremely popular with suppliers and global retailers.

They help improve the standardization of quality, safety, operational criteria and legal obligations for manufacturers. By improving the quality of the suppliers and global retailers, they inevitably increase customer satisfaction and provide protection for the consumer.

BRC Global Standards enable the production, packaging, storage and distribution of safe food and consumer products.

FSSC 22000:2018 version 5 has been released as of May 2019, FSSC food safety certification is a combination certificate of FSSC 22000:2018 It is a combination of ISO 22000:2018 + ISO/TS 22002-X where is x is the variable (1 through 7) applicable as per the nature of the activity in the facility and is sector specific.

ISO/TS 22002 replaces all Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) towards Pre-Requisite Programs of any facility and is the essential part of all good manufacturing Practices (GMP) prescribed by 21 CFR of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Certification to FSSC 22000 is recognized by GFSI. GFSI standards are mandatory for all organizations engaged in Farming, Manufacture, Storage, Catering, Packaging or Transportation, of Food Products for both Human and Animal Consumption.

International Featured Standard (IFS) Food is also a GFSI recognized standard for certifying the quality and safety of food products manufacturing and packaging processes.

The International Featured Standard (IFS) Food is a globally recognized food safety certification which helps build an international branding for your product and helps you increase sales in International markets.

IFS lays emphasis for Risk Based Assessment. This standard also covers all the processes along the supply chain.

IFS PAC Secure is the standard applicable for all kinds of Packaging Materials with or without food contact. This is another standard very popular in Europe and 58 Other countries. US exporters to Europe may prefer certification to this standard.

SQF stands for safe quality food. Safe Quality Food (SQF) standard is now revised to Edition 8.1

All organizations to be audited afresh or for surveillance audits are to follow this edition post January 2, 2018.

Requirements of SQF are divided in to Modules. Companies must select Module applicable to them along with Module 2 which is common for all.

AIB food safety audit standard is the brainchild of US based food manufacturers and is popular in USA as a Food Safety Standard. Usage of AIB checklists or AIB Food Safety Audit Checklist during preparation for AIB inspection audit is essential.

The AIB audit standards, promote organizational and personal practices that are aimed to safeguard food processing through pest control, microbial action control and general food safety standards.

AIB food safety audit standard provides a facilitative initiative to consolidate all assessment procedures of food processing and outlines the mandatory reactionary approaches that should be taken in case of a breach of food safety standards.

The AIB consolidated food safety standards are internationally binding and have been instrumental in promoting responsibility of food processing practices and untimely safe food for global consumption. AIB food safety audit is performed by American Institute of Baking inspectors.

AIB Standard is not for AIB food safety certification but for ranking purposes and is not recognized by Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) hence may not be acceptable globally.

FDA Compliance

In order to delay or avoid audits by Food Safety Inspection Services of FDA, there is a provision in the Food Safety Modernization Act for the companies to have a voluntary compliance food safety audit by third parties and proceed with food manufacture.

Details of the provision is in guidance documents available for various types of Farm produces, Food Production and Food Processing, Storage and Transport of foods.

As per above statement of FDA compliance can be established by alternate approach is through obtaining food safety certification to internationally recognized food safety standards instead of FDA compliance food safety audit.

Comparative Table for Decision Making on

Food Safety Standard for Organizations

Option BRC. FSSC 22000 SQF IFS AIB
Farm Produce BRC. Version 4.1 FSSC 22000:2018 = ISO 22000:2018+ ISO/TS 22002-X SQF edition 8 Part A and Part B Version 4.1 N/A
Food Processing BRC Edition 8 FSSC22000:2018 ISo22000:2018 + ISO/TS 22002-1 I SQF Edition 8 Part A module 2 Version 4.1 AIB international:2013
Food Storage and Transportation BRC edition 8 FSSC 22000:2018= ISO22000:2018 + ISO/TS 22002-5 SQF edition 8 Module 2+ Module 12 Version 4.1 AIB international:2013
Food Packaging BRC-PAC FSSC 22000:2018 = ISO 22000:2018 + ISO/TS 22002-4 SQF Edition 8 Module 2 + Module 13 IFS-PAC AIB international:2013
Food Retail BRC Edition 8 FSSC 22000:2018= ISO 2200:2018 + ISO/TS 22002-4 SQF edition 8 Module 2 + Module 15 AIB international:2013
Recognized by GFSI YES YES YES YES NO
Popular Version Retail Processing & Packaging Processing& Packaging Retail + Processing in Canada Processing & packaging in USA
Features Descriptive Most useful for new entrants looking for details Flexible + easy integration to ISO 9001:2015 and other ISO standards Stringent+ Descriptive Flexibility to start and provisions for legality. Adds on Quality elements later Risk Based Standard Emphasizes safety till retail outlets. Retail prone standard Risk is fundamental in AIB. 
Automatic Disqualification Available at Desk Audit. If Grade is C for Documentation No but Clearance for Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) is essential Available at Module 2 level Clearance required for Premises and surroundings Available at Desk/ Voluntary Audit Available before audit. Automatic disqualification if score on essentials is low.
Scoring System IS Used Not Used Is used Is used Is used
Select Select if Final client is retail and location is in Europe Select for all companies in US and Europe Select for All companies in US, Europe and Canada Select if final client is retail and location is Europe or Canada Select for companies in USA

The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system (HACCP) has become the universally recognized and accepted method for food safety assurance.

Recently, concern has increased about food safety from public health authorities, food industry and consumers worldwide which led to the creation of HACCP.

The large increase in the incidence of foodborne diseases in many countries during recent years also prompted the enacting of the HACCP.

Over the last 30 years, the HACCP has been internationally recognized as a leader in development and prevention of foodborne diseases.

Today, it is the internationally recognized and accepted method for food safety assurance. While it was originally developed to ensure microbiological safety of foodstuffs, it has been further broadened to include radioactive, chemical and physical hazards in foods. Its main aim is to identify hazards in the production processes and design procedures to reduce/eliminate these risks.

As per the final rule in Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Docket Folder FDA-2011-N-0920 the existing HACCP or the new HACCP to be developed shall be HARPC which is Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for FSMS.

Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. (QSE) conducts thorough food safety audits on companies for any chosen food safety standard. These food safety audits are more rigorous than the certifying body food safety audits.

This helps the companies to come clean without a single nonconformity in certifying food safety audit and the food safety certification is obtained in first attempt itself.

Before attempting to audit any company as a second party auditor, QSE offers services in food safety consulting and training to prepare the companies to have an error free Food Safety Management system.

The FSMS developed by QSE is simplified comprehensive single documentation. level system which helps companies build a system that is backed up with evidence.

In other words, QSE helps organization build Food Safety Teams, Train Food Safety Leaders and the Food Safety Team and create simplified documentation system for Food Safety Management System, which is very easy to follow and maintain year after year.

All the companies have to do is fill up prescribed forms in the course of their normal routine and they would have a complete standard complaint system on hand to follow year after year without having to lookback.

Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. is a Premier Food Safety Consulting, Food Safety Auditing, and Food Safety Training firm engaged in helping organizations reach their desired Quality or Food Safety Goals.

QSE’s “Ten Step Approach” to food safety certification is designed and perfected to cost-effectively prepare organizations for successfully passing Food Safety Certification Audits with minimum or no nonconformity .

QSE emphasizes on developing Simplified Documented Management Systems to meet or exceeds the requirements of any ISO Standard requirements.

This 10 Step Approach has a built-in discipline to involve all employees including top management right from the beginning to achieve long-term desired results.

This approach has been tried and tested several time and has proven to be insensitive to failure.

Our approach is so complete that we have helped over 700 companies obtain food safety certification, of which, a majority about 98% of them have obtained food safety certification with zero deficiencies.

Please contact us for details on phone # 770-518-9967. Or email info@qsebackup.atlcreative.co

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Bhaskar Kotte

Baskar Kotte

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