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What is IFS Food Safety Certification?
IFS Food Safety stands for International Featured Standard. IFS certification is an international food safety standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (G FSI). IFS food certification for any organization is considered as GFSI certified organization.
GFSI is an association of food safety experts from over 89 countries, which was formed to establish the benchmarks in food safety. These benchmarks shall be followed to obtain certification to food safety standard which is globally acceptable.
IFS certification is one of the standard benchmarks defined by GFSI standards. IFS standard is now revised to IFS-6.1 November 2017. IFS is valid in 58 countries.
IFS follow a scoring pattern on major requirements.
IFS Audit Scoring is as Follows
- A: Full compliance with the requirement specified in the standard
- B: Almost full compliance with the requirement specified in the standard, but a small deviation was found
- C: Only a small part of the requirement has been implemented
- D: The requirement in the standard has not been implemented
IFS Food Safety Points
Points are awarded for each requirement per the following:
Result explanation points
- A Full compliance 20 points
- B (deviation) Almost full compliance 15 points
- C (deviation) Small part of the requirement has been implemented 5 points
- D (deviation) Requirement has not been implemented – 20 points IFS-6.1 in its 2017 version has introduced some additional special requirements keeping the global terror threats as some of the considerations. These include vulnerability and security
In IFS, there are specific requirements which are designated as ko requirements (KO – Knock Out). If during the IFS audit the auditor establishes that these requirements are not fulfilled by the company, this results in non-certification or knockout
In IFS, the following 10 requirements are defined as KO (knockout) requirements:
- Responsibility of the senior management (1.2.4)
- Monitoring system of each CCP (188.8.131.52.1)
- Personnel hygiene (184.108.40.206)
- Raw material specifications (220.127.116.11)
- Recipe compliance (18.104.22.168)
- Foreign material management (4.12.1)
- Traceability system (4.18.1)
- Internal audits (5.1.1)
- Procedure for withdrawal and recall (5.9.2)
- Corrective actions (5.11.2)
KO requirements shall be evaluated according to the following scoring rules:
Refer chart n° 3: scoring for KO requirements in the standard
Result explanation awarded scores
- A full compliance 20 points
- B (deviation) almost full compliance 15 points
- C (deviation) small part of the requirement is implemented no “C” scoring is possible KO
- (= D) the requirement is not implemented 50 % of the possible total amount of points is subtracted => no certificate awarding is possible
Important note a “C” scoring is not possible for KO requirements. In this respect, the auditor can only use A, B or D (= KO).
When a KO requirement has been scored as “D”, 50 % of the possible total amount of points will be subtracted automatically meaning that
Why IFS-6.1 food safety certification and why not other GFSI recognized standard is purely the choice of the facility.
However normally the choice is based on customer preference based on the popularity of the standard in the region where customers are located.
Some have an opinion that IFS-6.1 food safety standard is better than other GFSI recognized standards, but some opine that IFS-6.1 has validity only in 58 countries hence may not be preferable.
Most importantly IFS food safety certification is valid in Europe and Canada among other countries, some have the opinion that IFS system attaches greater importance to safety in importing raw materials.
Some feel that there are prescribed knockout requirements defined and it would be difficult to meet since any requirement getting a `D’ score automatically fails IFS audit and the exercise has to be done form the beginning again. IFS PAC Secure is the standard applicable to packaging industries falling within the food chain of IFS system, certified industry.
- Facilities should get IFS certification to improve customer confidence and acceptance regarding food certification
- Food Safety Certification is a mandatory requirement as per Food Safety Modernization Act of USA (FSMA)
- IFS food certification is a way to be ahead in competition
- IFS-6.1 food certification avoids FDA audits
- IFS PAC Secure is used for certification in food packaging industry
- Facilities that require global acceptance of their products and services related to food safety should get certified to IFS-6.1 or other GFSI recognized standards
- IFS food safety certification is a way to be ahead in competition
- IFS-6.1 certification avoids FDA audits
- IFS PAC Secure is essential for Food Packaging Industry
- Check if IFS Food Safety Certification is Relevant to you:
- Are you into food manufacturing business?
- Does your business require any food storage?
- Is your business involved in food transportation?
- Are you into food packaging and supply business?
If the answer is “Yes” to any of the above questions, then IFS is very much applicable to your business. We should request you to spare few minutes to go through the process of IFS certification mentioned in next sections which is critical to your business.
Please refer to comparative table in “summary of food safety management” on this web site for a comparative table for decision making on food safety standard to be selected for your facility
Below are the Key Phases of IFS Certification process
- Pre-Audit (This is Optional)
- Actual IFS Audit by Certification Body
- Follow up IFS Audit (If required) depending on Observations
- Issue of IFS Certification
IFS Food Safety Standards Cover Following Topics:
- Senior management responsibility
- Quality and food safety management system
- Resource management
- Planning and production process
- Measurements, analysis, improvements
- Food Defense
By leveraging vast experience, it has, QSE organizes the entire IFS food standards certification process into micro activities and help its customers at each step of the entire process.
- Forming the team and Identification of IFS Food Safety Practitioner/Food Safety Team Leader:
IFS-6.1 food certification process starts with the formation of an internal food safety team within the facility, and select IFS practitioner out of the team. QSE with its vast experience can suggest methods of doing it
- QSE engages competent trainers to conduct IFS training and other GFSI recognized standards such as BRC, FSSC 22000 and SQF
- QSE focuses on terms, concepts, and principles as a foundation to effectively implement IFS Food Safety standard with interactive style in training sessions. Our training sessions emphasize effective implementation techniques
- Design IFS Food Safety Management System:
QSE designs an IFS Management System (IFSMs) to institute current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP)for the facility to meet IFS food certification and IFS-6.1 food audits.
- Preparation of IFS Food Safety Audit Checklist:
QSE prepares a checklist to be followed by the facilities to ensure that all Knock Out (KO) conditions described in various clauses of IFS Food Standard are scored at a minimum level of A or higher.
Any score below A is discovered during internal audits to be done by QSE. QSE ensures that the factors leading to low score are eliminated and IFS food safety compliance is ensured at a level of A
- Prepare IFS Food Safety Comprehensive Documentation:
QSE can prepare comprehensive documentation under IFSMs to create evidence on IFS food safety activities
- QSE has special documentation for Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) for imports from Canada, China, Mexico and other countries
- QSE includes exclusive documentation for allergen control
- QSE documentation includes mock recalls to ensure operativity of recall system,
- QSE documentation includes special additional requirements covered on IFS-6.1
- QSE has a comprehensive, simplified, single level documentation system which is unique, for international featured standard management systems (IFSMs)
- Documentation developed by QSE guarantees IFS compliance during IFS system audits for any select module applicable for the facility.
- The documentation can be submitted as a voluntary disclosure by the facility to obtain clearance from IFS certification body before their visit to the facility
- Conduct IFS Food Safety Internal Audits:
QSE conducts a comprehensive internal audit by certified and competent auditors to verify the accuracy and adequacy of documentation which is a requirement before IFS-6.1 certification audit
- IFS-6.1 certification audit by accreditation bodies who are signatories to IAF. QSE can coordinate to arrange with IFS certification bodies to help the organizations
- Assistance to Close the IFS Food Safety gaps:
QSE educates and assists the teams on how nonconformities are to be fixed within a specific period usually one month
- Coaching for IFS Food Safety Final Audit:
QSE organizes structured sessions to prepare all the stakeholders to face the final IFS audit comfortably
- Support During IFS Food Safety Final Audit:
QSE provides all kinds of supporting during final IFS food safety audit to ensure the facility meets all audit requirements
Thus, QSE leads the facility to get certified to IFS-6.1.QSE has a 10-step disciplined approach for certification steps described above which is insensitive to failure. QSE guarantees certification to any facility who follow all 10 steps
- IFS food standard provides important tools and guidance materials in promoting quality driven management practice in food production, processing and supply
- IFS-6.1 has been endorsed and widely acknowledged by leading sector players in the food production industry. IFS-6.1 is recognized by global food safety initiative (GFSI) hence, widely accepted
- The mandatory hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) plan is an integral part of IFS management system. (FSMS) under IFS-6.1 food safety standard
- IFSMs includes hazard analysis risk-based preventive controls (HARPC) to meet the final rule requirements of FSMA
- One of the IFS benefits is to promote compliance in yearly IFS certification and third-party IFS audits to help retailers and processors maintain the IFS-6.1 food safety standard and quality benchmark.
- The IFS-6.1 food standard allows the validation of food processing and production systems throughout the food chain
- Suppliers and producers with the IFS-6.1 food safety standard certification have an increased competitive advantage in the market in about 58 countries including European union and Canada
- Once a facility is certified to IFS-6.1 food safety, that serves as a proof for due diligence followed by the facility for food safety
- IFS-6.1 Food Safety certification avoids buyer audits and audits by food safety inspection services (FSIS) of FDA is another IFS benefit
- Unmatchable Experience and Expertise:
- Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. (QSE) is a premier consulting, auditing and training firm engaged in advocating food safety certifications for over 27 years in USA.
- QSE has extensive experience in assisting packaging facilities in achieving all food safety packaging certifications such as:
- BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials, Issue 5
- Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC 22000) Standard, Ver. 5.2
- Safe Quality Food (SQF) Module 2 for Packaging, Ed.8.1
- IFS PAC Secure, Rev.2
- QSE provides required training for IFS certification with competent trainers
- Effective IFS Food Safety Training and Mentoring:
- QSE focusses to educate on how it can be done and does not rest till the requirements of the standard are met fully. Using this approach, QSE helps the facility team to be confident and fully prepared to face the audit with ease.
- IFS Food Safety Manual Documentation made Simple:
- QSE provides a unique simplified documentation system to meet IFS-6.1 standard requirements which is easy to follow and easy to maintain over the years for compliance to IFS Food standard and maintain IFS-6.1 certification
- IFS Food Safety Checklists that makes difference:
- QSE uses IFS Food Safety audit checklist for IFS Food Safety standards to ensure IFS Food Safety compliance which is similar to IFS Food Safety audit checklists used by IFS certification body auditors for awarding IFS Food Safety certification
- QSE prepared IFS Food Safety standard audit checklists help facilities to effectively prepare for Food Safety IFS certification audit
- Efficiency in Achieving IFS Food Safety Certification
- QSE helps facilities to get IFS Food Safety certified in the shortest possible time invariable within 5 months using efficient methods and processes
- IFS Food Safety Certification Guaranteed:
- QSE guarantees IFS certification to all facilities willing to follow the proven 10 step disciplined path devised by it
- Post IFS Food Safety Audit Support:
- QSE offers post IFS Food Safety audit services to advocate the case of the facility to any extent till IFS Food Safety certification is achieved, which is seldom available with other IFS Food Safety Consulting companies
- Guaranteed IFS Food Safety certification
- QSE’s 10-step disciplined path for IFS certification achieves certification in the shortest possible time. Usually within 6 months
Frequently Asked Questions
IFS-6.1 is chosen mostly because of customer preference
IFS-6.1 has a scoring system
“IFS Certification can be obtained in less than 5 months with the cooperation and subject to availability of IFS certification bodies.
QSE has a unique, comprehensive, and simplified documentation system which can integrate any standard to its existing documentation system without adding heaps of documentation.