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SQF Certification | Auditing, Consulting & Training

SQF Certification
Auditing, Consulting, & Training

Engage the Experts
QSE: 27+ Years of Experience in Food safety Consulting, Auditing, & Training

What is SQF Certification?

SQF stands for Safe Quality Food. This is a Food Safety Standard recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is an association of food safety experts from over 89 countries, come together to fix benchmarks in food safety. These benchmarks shall be followed to obtain certification to Food Safety Standard which is globally acceptable. SQF compliance to achieve SQF certification is one of them. SQF food safety standard is now revised to Edition 8.1 All facilities to be audited afresh or for surveillance audits are to follow this edition post January 2, 2018.

Previously SQF Standards had followed 3 levels in SQF certification process. SQF level 1, SQF level 2 and SQF level 3. Now SQF Standards has dispensed with the levels and detailed the same in the Food Safety Code (FSC) modules applicable to the nature of the Industry. To effectively implement SQF standards, organizations require a trained SQF practitioner. SQF certified organizations meet all regulatory requirements detailed in FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act).

SQF practitioner may engage SQF consultants or SQF consulting organizations for developing SQF food safety management system, provide SQF training for all interested parties and provide SQF internal auditing services to meet all SQF requirements. SQF Certification Bodies issue  SQF certificate after an organization achieves adequate score through SQF compliance in all aspects of it’s business related to food safety

Following table gives comparison between what was the levels in SQF food safety before edition 8 and what it is now as per the new revised edition in 2018.

Previously Called Present in Edition 8 Basic/ Advanced HACCP included/not Included Recognized by GFSI/ NOT recognized
Level 1 Basic Produce: Low Risk Food Safety Fundamentals (FSC Module 2+ FSC modules 5, 6, 7, 7H, or 8) Basic   Not Included Not Recognized
Level 2 Manufacturing High Risk Now includes Animal Feed FSC Module 2 + (FSC Modules 3, 4, 9, 10, or 11) Advanced Included Recognized
Level 3 Manufacturing + High Risk Quality Systems   Includes Pet Animal feed Food Safety Code for Manufacture of Packaging Materials (FSC Module 2 + FSC Module 13) Advanced Included Includes Quality Management. Includes Risk Based Approaches (HARPC) Recognized
Storage of Food  (FSC Module 2 + FSC Module 12) Advanced Included Recognized
Retail  (New FSC + FSC Module 15) Advanced Included Under process of Recognition by GFSI

Why SQF Certification?

Why SQF 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 SQF certification is more objective than other GFSI recognized standards and some opine that SQF has less documentation than others. Some have the opinion that SQF attaches greater importance to building and surroundings. Fact remains that benchmarks are set by GFSI and all standards meet the requirements one way or the other. SQF had not included risk-based controls but with edition 8 that shortfall has been fulfilled. SQF Standards now attaches significant importance to risk based preventive controls thus meeting the requirements of Final rule in Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). SQF Standards mandate presence of a trained SQF practitioner in the facility seeking SQF certification where as other standards look for food safety team leader trained to implement Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Hazard Analysis Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC).

  • SQF certification is required for all facilities who are a part in the food chain
  • SQF certification is required to avoid Food Safety Audits by FDA
  • SQF certification is a demand by Customers
  • SQF certification is essential to boost consumer confidence
  • SQF certification avoids expensive food recalls
  • SQF module 13 is applicable for Food Packaging Industry
QSE with you all the Way in SQF Certification Process
  • SQF Certification process starts with forming Food Safety Team within the facility and select one Leader out of the Team. QSE with its vast experience can suggest methods of doing it
  • QSE can train the leader to become an SQF practitioner which is a mandatory requirement
  • QSE can train and help SQF practitioner to institute HACCP and HARPC which also is a mandatory requirement
  • QSE trains and design a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to institute Current Good Manufacturing Practices for the facility to meet Food Safety Fundamental Requirements under SQF Food Safety Code (FSC) Module 2
  • QSE can prepare documentation under FSMS to create evidence on Food Safety Activities
  • QSE has a simplified one level comprehensive documented system which is unique, for Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) under any select module applicable for the facility
  • QSE conducts a comprehensive internal audit by certified and competent auditors to verify the accuracy and adequacy of documentation which is a requirement before SQF audit
  • QSE can coordinate to arrange an SQF certification audit by accredited auditors registered with Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI)
  • QSE conducts a comprehensive internal audit by certified and competent auditors to verify the accuracy and adequacy of documentation which is a requirement before SQF audit
  • QSE can coordinate to arrange a SQF audits with SQFI accredited Certification Bodies
  • QSE’s through internal audits guarantee no nonconformities during certification audit
  • QSE’s a 10-step disciplined approach for certification is insensitive to failure
  • QSE gurantees certification to any facility who follow all 10 Steps

Thus, QSE orchestrates every step of the way for certification to SQF

  • Program provides important tools and guidance materials in promoting quality driven management practice in food production, processing and supply
  • SQF has been endorsed and widely acknowledged by leading sector players in the food production industry
  • SQF 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 Food Safety Management System. (FSMS) under SQF program
  • FSMS includes Hazard Analysis Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC) to meet the final rule requirements of FSMA
  • Promotes informative yearly certification and third-party audits to help retailers and processors maintain the SQF Food Safety and Quality benchmark.
  • The SQF program allows the validation of food processing and production systems throughout the Food Chain
  • Suppliers and producers with the SQF certification have an increased competitive advantage in the market
  • SQF certified facilities have an edge in marketing products/services compared to those who are not certified
  • SQF certification avoids byer audits and audits by Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) of FDA.
  • Unmatchable SQF Consulting, Training and Auditing Experience and Expertise:
    • Quality Systems Enhancement Inc. (QSE) is a premier consulting, auditing and training firm engaged in advocating food 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 SQF certification with competent trainers
  • Effective SQF Training and Mentoring:
    • QSE engages competent trainers to conduct all training related to SQF and other GFSI recognized standards
    • QSE focusses on terms concepts and principles as a foundation to effectively implement SQF standard with interactive style in training sessions. Our training sessions emphasize effective implementation techniques
  • SQF Quality Manual/Documentation Made Simple:
    • QSE provides a unique simplified documentation system to meet SQF-8 standard requirements which is easy to follow and easy to maintain over the years for compliance to SQF Food standard and maintain SQF-8 certification
  • SQF Audit Checklists that makes difference:
    • QSE helps in preparing a SQF audit checklist for SQF standard requirements which can be used to ensure SQF compliance which is similar to checklists used by SQF certification body for awarding grade during a certification audit
    • QSE conducts SQF internal audits with competent and qualified SQF consultants and SQF auditors
    • QSE prepared SQF checklist helps facilities to award self-scoring prior to audit to ensure Knock Out conditions do not exist
  • Efficiency in Achieving SQF Certification:
    • QSE helps facilities to get SQF certified in the shortest possible time invariably within 6 months using efficient methods and processes
  • SQF Certification Guaranteed:
    • QSE guarantees SQF certification to all facilities willing to follow the proven 10 step disciplined path devised by it
  • Post SQF Audit Support:
    • QSE offers post audit services to advocate the case of the facility to any extent till SQF certification which is seldom available with others
  • Guaranteed SQF certification
    • QSE’s 10-step disciplined path for certification achieves certification in the shortest possible time. Usually within 6 months
  • QSE has assisted over 700 organizations to obtain various ISO certifications and other sector specific certifications such as Automotive, Aerospace and Food Safety
  • QSE assisted among others, American Carton and Strong haven for SQF. American Packaging corporation, Packrite, Utah Paper box, Duso Box for other Food Safety certifications
  • American Packaging corporation obtained their certification in less than 5 months
  • Training and FSMS preparation can be completed within the first month of starting the process with full cooperation from concerning facilities


Frequently Asked Questions​

SQF is chosen mostly because of customer preference

SQF has an objective scoring system which can help objective assessment of all processes.

Certification can be obtained in less than 5 months with the cooperation and subject to availability of certifying bodies.

QSE makes documentation Simple, Comprehensive, evidence based and one level which is very easy to follow and maintain certifications.

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Bhaskar Kotte

Baskar Kotte

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