SQFI Achieves FSC 25 and 26 GFSI Benchmarking

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SQFI Achieves GFSI Benchmarking to Cover Food Sector Categories 25 and 26

SQFI is excited and pleased to announce that our Storage and Distribution of Food Products Program has received Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Benchmarking! Benchmarking covers Modules 2 and 12 of the SQF Code and refers to Food Sector Categories 25 and 26. This module meets the Good Distribution Practice requirements for the transport and storage of perishable and non-perishable food and feed products. Suppliers implementing this module must also meet the requirements of Module 2: SQF System Elements. Module 12 is intended for distribution facilities that do not process or repackage. Facilities that process food such as slicing, dicing, relabeling, and repackaging of products, for example, a case of cucumbers that is received and repackaged and relabeled into smaller cases must use the applicable module 10.

Click here for a copy of the program documents

Since 2010 SQFI has been diligently seeking GFSI benchmarking, where applicable, for all our Food Sector Categories. We are excited to offer these highly anticipated benchmarked modules to our stakeholders so they can be assured they are transporting and storing perishable and non-perishable food and feed products safely. This latest addition to the SQF Program further demonstrates our vision to be the single most trusted source for global food safety and quality certification.

Below is a timeline of SQFI benchmarking history

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Receiving SQF certification helps to ensure that the products that are transported and stored have passed rigorous international food safety requirements, including HACCP. SQF food safety certification is the only program recognized by GFSI, which links primary production certification to food manufacturing, distribution and agent/broker management certification.

As a distribution facility, the SQF Certification will benefit your business by the following:

Compliance – The requirements in the SQF code meet and often exceed many international food safety regulatory rules, including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposed rules

Confidence – SQF is a food safety system that can help protect your brands and consumers with one of the most rigorous, globally recognized programs and state of the art data management system

Global Recognition – a program recognized by the GFSI and food retailers worldwide

* Enhanced Protection – The SQF program provides you with data and information that has integrity, consistency, and provides a higher level of credibility than other schemes

Access to Information – Free access to the SQF program, and our supporting documents, audit information, and SQF technical experts and consultants

Quality Management – The SQF program includes a level of certification specifically focused on product quality and the maintenance of private label specifications at the manufacturing level.

Reduced Product Loss – The SQF systems approach to specification management will help improve operational efficiency

SQFI continuously seeks ways to improve our program and processes. Our goal is to be the single most trusted source for global food safety and quality certification. SQFI welcomes your thoughts and recommendations to make an efficient and robust management system even better. Please contact us at info@sqfi.com to submit questions, leave feedback and request more information.

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SQFI Announces SQF Quality Achievement Award Winners

October 31, 2014

Arlington, VA– The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) recently announced the SQF Quality Achievement Awards at their 2014 International Conference in Orlando, Florida. These seven awards recognize individuals and organizations who contribute to endorsing and improving the SQFI program and global mission to require a rigorous, credible food safety management system.. Finalists in each category were honored at a luncheon during the conference.

“Producing safe food from farm to fork is a top priority for all food retailers and manufacturers,” said Robert Garfield, senior vice president of SQFI. “This year’s winners of our Outstanding Achievement Award demonstrate how SQF certification goes beyond a simple food safety audit to inspire a comprehensive food safety system with checks and balances along our global supply chain.”

SQFI Auditor of the Year

Awarded to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding performance as a credentialed SQF Auditor.

  • Roger Roeth – Chief Operating Officer/ Auditor, Eagle Certification Group

SQFI Certification Body of the Year

Awarded to a licensed and accredited Certification Body that has contributed significantly to achieving the SQF mission of delivering consistent, globally recognized food safety and quality certification programs based on sound scientific principles, consistently applied across all industry sectors, and valued by all stakeholders.

  • NSF International

SQFI Training Center of the Year

Awarded to a licensed Training Center that has contributed significantly to achieving the SQF mission and supporting SQF stakeholders in implementing sound food safety and quality practices.

  • Alchemy Systems

SQFI Manufacturer/Distributor of the Year

Awarded to a certified supplier that has demonstrated excellence in the SQF system and has promoted SQF.

  • Sempio Foods Company

SQFI Outstanding Achievement Award- Industry

This award is given to an individual who has freely shared his/her time and expertise throughout the industry in the areas of food safety.

  • Tatiana Lorca, PhD., Sr. Manager, Food Safety Education & Training, Ecolab, Inc.

SQFI Outstanding Achievement Award- Supplier

This award is given to an individual within a facility or company, who has demonstrated accomplishments in driving continuous growth and has taken their facility or company above and beyond the SQF program.

  • James P. Reynolds , Director of Food Safety and Compliance, Lineage Logistics

SQFI Primary Producer of the Year

Awarded to a certified supplier that focuses on agri-business (primary producer) and has shown a commitment to excellence in the SQF system.

  • Taylor Farms

For details and more information about the SQF Quality Achievement Awards winners, please visit www.sqfi.com


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SQFI Compliance and Integrity Program

SQFI is happy to announce a new resource for our SQF Compliance and Integrity Program (CIP). Come find out how the SQF program ensures consistent application of SQF, meets stakeholder expectations, and identifies areas for improvement. The new SQF Compliance page is also the place to provide feedback for all SQF stakeholders.

Click here to provide feedback and learn about the SQF Compliance and Integrity Program.

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Hogan Lovells Memos – FDA Issues Proposed Rules for FSMA

On Friday, September 19th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released four supplemental notices of recommended rulemaking to the 2013 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The links below are the suggested changes on how to execute the 2013 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

HL Memo-FDA Issues Supplemental Preventive Controls Proposed Rules Under…

HL Memo-FDA Re-Issues Key Sections of Produce Safety Proposed Rule Under FSMA

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SQF Ahead of the Game! Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President at SQFI, responds to Walmart’s unannounced audit communication

SQF Letter Logo

August 20, 2014

Dear Valued SQF Stakeholder,

As you are aware, in July SQFI started to implement an unannounced audit protocol that requires one out of every three SQF audits will be unannounced. We made the decision back in 2013 to enhance the rigor of the SQF program after consulting with numerous stakeholders. We knew that unannounced audits would elevate the SQF program to the next level by providing a standard that would prepare SQF-Certified suppliers to be audit-ready at any time.

We thought you would be interested to know that Walmart announced yesterday they are “encouraging all stakeholders and our suppliers, where appropriate, to move towards unannounced audits against GFSI benchmarked schemes.” This follows along with ASDA’s (Walmart’s business in the UK) announcement last year, to make unannounced audits part of a requirement to do business with them.

According to a letter from Frank Yiannas, VP of Food Safety & Health at Walmart, the company supports the motto “Once certified, accepted everywhere.” In the letter Mr. Yiannas wrote, “In light of our recent decision at ASDA and based on the overall trend in the industry, we would like to ask all GFSI benchmarked scheme owners to consider offering an unannounced option within your scheme by June 2015…. We believe unannounced audits, where applicable depending on the commodity and type of operation, will help suppliers demonstrate their commitment to food safety by being ‘audit-ready’ at all times. Moreover, it’s just one more demonstration of our commitment to continuous improvement throughout the entire food system.”

SQFI developed its unannounced audit protocol to prepare our clients for the future of third party accredited assessments, which are in line with food safety management expectations of industry stakeholders and consumers.

SQFI continuously seeks ways to improve our program and processes. Our goal is to be the single most trusted source for global food safety and quality certification. As we progress, SQFI welcomes your thoughts and recommendations to make an efficient and robust management system even better. Please contact us at info@sqfi.com if you need more information about SQF’s unannounced audit protocol. Visit http://www.sqfi.com/wp-content/uploads/Final-Unannounced-Audit-Protocol-and-FAQ.pdf for the process and FAQ’s regarding the Unannounced Audit Protocol.



Robert L. Garfield

Senior Vice President, SQFI

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The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) Ethical Sourcing Outcomes Document

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The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) supports the following expected outcomes as a result of accredited certification to Safe Quality Food (SQFI) Ethical Sourcing (ES) Code. The intent is to promote a common focus throughout the entire conformity assessment chain in order to achieve these expected outcomes and enhance the value and relevance of accredited certification.

SQFI ES Code certification is a voluntary supplement for sourcing and supplier organizations who are certified to the SQFI Code 7th edition (food safety management), and other organizations, whose customers require an independent assessment of their commitment to the implementation of responsible practices related to trading activities, social management programs, and programs for managing environmental impacts and occupational health & safety risks.

SQFII is the developer and publisher of SQFI ES Code, but does not itself carry out auditing and certification. These services are performed independently by accredited certification bodies. SQFI does not control such bodies, but does follow the international standards to encourage good practices in their activities on a worldwide basis. For example, ISO/IEC 17021 specifies the requirements for bodies providing auditing and certification of management systems.

Expected Outcomes for Accredited Certification to SQFI ES Code

For the defined certification scope, an organization certified to the SQFI ES Code is committed to responsible practices related to trading activities, human resource activities, social management programs, and programs for managing environmental impacts and occupational health & safety risks.

What Accredited Certification to SQFI ES Code Means

1. Top management of the company will better understand and control their impact on the following areas: environmental, health & safety, and social (HR) and business practices. This will help them ensure resources will be there in the future so the company will be around to support their customers in the future.

2. The top management team will understand the impact to the total system as new products, processes or services are introduced and as production levels fluctuate to meet customers’ needs. The SQFI ES certified system will drive the company to understand the following when the production requirements change:

a) Will the company’s environmental impact increase or decrease, will any legal requirements need to be addressed and will any permits need to be updated or applied for.
b) Will any health & safety requirements need to be added or re-addressed.
c) Does this change introduce any new hazards or risks.
d) Will any HR items need to be addressed: i.e., work hours, training, manpower or other items.
e) Will the current business practices/policies and procedures support the change or fluctuation in production.

3. The ES system will drive top management to take actions to sustain the total company for the future through continuous improvements and monitoring of the system.

4. SQFII through its association with ANAB expects the execution by the certification bodies to meet ISO/IEC 17021.

What Accredited Certification to SQFI ES Code Does Not Mean

1. The SQFI ES Code is not designed to replace other, more extensive codes/standards that apply to the assurance of good social, environmental and occupational health & safety practices.

2. The company will strive to avoid regulatory issues or violations (environmental, health & safety, or HR) during the period of an active SQFI ES Certification. However, certification to the ES Code does not ensure that regulatory issues and violations will not occur.

3. Accredited certification to the ES Code does not mean that any product or service provided by the company is certified.

4. SQFI ES Certification does not mean that a company will avoid environmental, health & safety, or HR legal issues during the period of active certification.


Ethical Sourcing (ES) is an environmental, health and safety (EHS) management system for the food industry. The management system has been developed with the help of stakeholders and consultants with over 60 years’ experience in aerospace, automotive, food and chemical environmental, health and safety audits.

The SQFI ES Code provides a core set of requirements that leads a facility to document those management systems and procedures/practices that it applies in order to demonstrate that it has implemented Ethical Sourcing in its operations, particularly in the areas of environmental control and social compliance.

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SQF Becomes First Internationally Accredited Third-Party Assessment Program to Require Unannounced Audits

The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a division of the Food Marketing Institute, announced today the incorporation of an unannounced audit protocol to be included in the next revision of the SQF Code (SQF). With the support of its Technical Advisory Council, representing SQF stakeholders, SQF will become the first internationally accredited third-party assessment program to require unannounced audits. Robert Garfield, senior vice president, SQFI, issued the following statement:

“SQFI’s unannounced audit protocol will be introduced in February 2014 and implemented in July 2014, and will require that one out of every three SQF audits will be unannounced.

“We made the decision to enhance the rigor of the SQFI program after consulting with numerous stakeholders. We understand that the food industry must respond to and meet the nation’s food safety challenges more rapidly and effectively, which requires a more nimble approach to our program.

“Although many stakeholders, such as governments and consumer organizations, recognize the efficacy of the SQFI food safety management program, unannounced audits will elevate the SQF Program to the next level by providing a standard that will prepare SQF-Certified suppliers to be audit-ready at any time. We believe that each facility must be prepared every day for an assessment.”


SQFI compares the elements of SQF Level 2 Module 7 to the Produce Safety Rule requirements

The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) contracted with The Acheson Group, LLC (TAG) to compare the elements of SQF Level 2 Module 7 to the proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The comparison was with the Produce Safety Rule requirements as well as guidance on good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for fruits and vegetables issued under the “Guidance for Industry – Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” (“the GAPs guide”). The purpose of this exercise was to identify similarities, and to enable SQF leadership to address any areas in which they could be in better alignment with these new rules.

The SQF program is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and given the obvious parallels between GFSI and the produce rules, there have naturally been several questions related to the comparability of FDA’s proposed requirements and the practices and processes already in place in facilities certified to the GFSI benchmarked scheme.

Download the Produce Executive Cover Letter from David Acheson as a PDF

Download the SQF Module 7 to Proposed PS rule comparison as a PDF

Download the SQF Module 7 to GAPS comparison as a PDF


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FMI Foundation Awards Audit Training and Scholarships to College Food Science Majors

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation, in partnership with the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), awarded scholarships to three deserving food agriculture science majors for their academic pursuits to improve food safety and protect public health. These competitive FMI Foundation scholarships are based on academic ability; leadership potential; motivation and initiative; and passion for the food industry and the auditing profession.

The following winners received an academic grant from the FMI Foundation:
•Susan R. Hammons, Purdue University, Department of Food Science: The FMI Foundation recognized Ms. Hammons’ for her ongoing, graduate-level work to address the challenges of Listeria monocytogenes in retail delis. Hammons expressed a passion for creating food safety training programs for retail personnel and auditors.
•Kizmik B. McPherson, University of Georgia, Department of Food Science: Ms. McPherson plans to continue a graduate-level degree in food safety and microbiology in order to support her interest in food safety regulation.
•Liziane S. da Rocha, Wayne State University, Detroit, Department of Nutrition and Food Science: Ms. da Rocha expressed her desire to become a food safety auditor and improve systems that ultimately benefit the consumer.

Cathy Polley, RPh, FMI vice president of health and wellness and executive director of the Foundation, celebrated the winners, saying, “The FMI Foundation is pleased to support the dedication and academic achievements of these food science professionals; we are confident that our industry will benefit from their passionate motivation to protect public health now and in the future.”

Robert Garfield, senior vice president of SQFI, noted, “Accredited third-party certification is critical to the integrity of the food safety system, and I’m honored to have met these brilliant women who will champion an analytical and science-based approach to ensuring the security of our food.”

For more information about the scholarship program, visit the FMI Foundation website www.fmifoundation.org.

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FSMA Preventive Controls for Animal Food Released – FMI Webinar Friday

Last week the FDA released the proposed FSMA preventive controls rule for food for animals. This regulation had been subject to a lengthy review at the Office of Management and Budget.

The regulation for the first time establishes CGMPs that specifically address the manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding of animal food. The proposed rule requires facilities that manufacture, process, pack and hold animal food to develop and implement a HACCP-like preventive controls system. The regulation applies to pet food and treats among other things produced both domestically and in foreign countries for export to the U.S. (importers must verify that animal food is produced in compliance with the rule or a standard that provides the same level of public health protection).

Information on the FSMA Preventive Controls for Animal Food can be found here.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) will be hosting a webinar to review the rule on Friday, Nov. 1st.