Safe Quality Food (SQF) Code

SQF

Safe Quality Food (SQF) Code

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We offer certification to the SQF Food Safety Codes, which include specific codes for Food Manufacturing, Storage and Distribution, Food Packaging Materials, Primary Food Production and the SQF Quality Code, which can be applied in addition to the Food Safety Codes for any industry sector.

The SQF Code(s) meets the needs of all suppliers in the food industry and emphasizes the systematic application of HACCP for control of food safety hazards, as well as food quality (with the addition of the SQF Quality Code). SQF Code(s) implementation addresses food safety, while the SQF Quality Code addresses quality requirements and is ideal for businesses supplying local and global food markets.

SQF Certification offers GFSI-benchmarks for all of the SQF Food Safety Codes. The SQF Quality code is an add-on certification for quality, sustainability and improvement.

SQF Audits & COVID-19

The basics are as follows:

  1. They are not allowed for unannounced audits.
  2. They are applicable to Initial Certification, Recertification, and Surveillance audits, if the site is deemed low risk.
  3. They are not mandatory for announced audits.
  4. You must complete an application. Available on request please contact Taylor Marcoux (Tmarcoux@aibinternational.com)
  5. Upon review of the application AIB will determine if you are low risk and allowed to have a hybrid audit.
  6. If you are low risk you can opt in for a hybrid audit.
  7. You must be able to sustain a stable internet connection, have records and procedures available electronically, be able to present these to the auditor upon request, be able to connect personnel requested by the auditor for interview. If you do not meet these requirements you cannot participate in the Hybrid Audit option.
  8. The hybrid audit splits your audit into 2 separate activities 1. Virtual Remote Activity and 2.On-site Audit. Although it is preferred that the Remote Activity occur first, it is not required, and the activities can be conducted in any order. Within 30 days of the first audit activity or the end of your audit window whichever comes first, you must have the second audit activity.
  9. The Virtual Remote Activity can consist of no more than half of the assigned audit duration and is used to conduct interviews, record reviews, and procedure reviews virtually through a live virtual session with an auditor. You may be issued non-conformances, will have to correct them within 30 days, and submit evidence of correction/ corrective action as applicable. The timelines and requirements described it the code are applicable.
  10. The On-site consists of at least half of the assigned audit duration and consists of the site inspection, interviews, and record review. You may be issued non-conformances, will have to correct them within 30 days, and submit evidence of correction/ corrective action as applicable.
  11. There is only one combined report and one score.
  12. The 2 activities may or may not be completed by the same auditor.

We have included this option in the REC10 and REC81 which are used to collect the duration related site-specific details for your site. If you have already turned in your REC81 or REC10 for this year, and you wish to select the Hybrid Audit option, please contact myself or Taylor Marcoux for assistance. If you have not yet received your REC 81 for your current audit year then you may make the selection at the time that you verify your site information.

Sites can apply for an extension if they are within 30 days for your Recertification Audit Date (Also known as “Date of Next Audit” or Anniversary Date). If you do not know your audit window, please look at your certificate. There is a Date of Next Audit. Your window is +/- 30 days from this date, and you are eligible to apply for an extension once the window begins. If you are interested in an audit window extension, please contact Taylor Marcoux (Tmarcoux@aibinternational.com) and request and extension. The extension requires the completion of a form and a 2-hour virtual record and program verification as a charged activity.

Sites that are required to have an Unannounced audit with an audit on or before December 31, may elect to convert to an Announce audit. Additionally, if your site has previously received an extension and are scheduled to have your Unannounced audit before December 31, you are also eligible to convert to an Announced audit. You will be required to have an unannounced audit in 2021. You must contact Taylor Marcoux (Tmarcoux@aibinternational.com) to elect to convert as we are required to keep a list of converted sites AND we will still consider you as Unannounced until you contact us. Failure to contact us will result in you being charged if you turn away the auditor, and your certificate will be suspended.

What Are the Key Benefits?

SQF audits are often a good fit for companies that want to test their written programs first to see if they are ready for a full audit because these audits are divided into two separate phases: documentation and facility. Companies can make corrections between the two audit phases without impacting their final score, which can save money in the long run. Additionally, because the SQF Quality Code is not scored and is not integrated into the Food Safety audit and score, it can be added at any time without risking the SQF Food Safety certification.

Why Use AIB International Over Other SQF-Approved Certification Bodies?

  • Our auditors are well calibrated, which means our clients are less likely to have their certificates revoked or withdrawn due to procedure error by the certification body.
  • AIB International is committed to providing the best possible products and services to our valued clients at the most competitive price points in the industry.
  • 90% of companies using AIB International as their certification body stay with us. The industry average is 79.9%.
  • Our auditors are routinely witnessed by ANSI, our accreditation body.

Product Categories

AIB International has auditors competent in the following SQF product categories:

  • Dairy Food Processing
  • Bakery and Snack Food Processing
  • Fruit and Vegetable Processing (including Nuts)
  • Canning, Pasteurizing (except dairy), UHT, and Aseptic Operations
  • Ice, Drink, and Beverage
  • Confectionery
  • Preserved Foods
  • Food Ingredient
  • Recipe Meals
  • Oils, Fats
  • Cereal Grains
  • Fresh Produce Wholesaling and Distribution
  • Repackaging
  • Food Wholesaling and Distribution
  • Food Sector Packaging Materials
  • Pet Food
  • Animal Food

What Is the SQF Certification Process?

  1. Pre-assessment
    An optional audit used to assess the level of compliance of the system against the SQF Code (and level).
  2. Certification
    Desktop review and facility audit to assess the effectiveness of a facility’s system against the requirements of the SQF Code. Certification is granted for rating of E, G, or C (Excellent, Good, or Compliant) and is valid for 12 months.
  3. Recertification Audit
    Recertification verifies continued effectiveness of a facility’s system and reviews past performance over the period of the certification (12 months).
  4. Surveillance Audit
    These audits are required in the event of C rating during certification or recertification audits and are conducted after six months.
  5. Unannounced Audit
    Certified SQF suppliers are required to have one unannounced audit within their three-year certification cycle, but they are not conducted during the initial certification audit or on a surveillance audit. Select Site status is granted to sites that choose to have an unannounced audit every year.

AIB International obtains accreditation based on scheme owner's requirements.

Further Reading

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Certification is provided by AIB International Certification Services, a wholly owned subsidiary and separate company. Use of AIB International’s consulting and training services does not influence certification outcome.