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.”

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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.

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Hogan Lovells Synopsis on FDA FSMA Import Proposed Rules.

SQFI Stresses Strengthening the Nation’s Food Safety System and Effective, Risk-Based Regulations

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting to discuss its proposed rules on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (FSVPs) and Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits and to Issue Certifications (Third-Party Accreditation) under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The meeting was structured to provide an overview of the proposed rules, solicit oral comments, and respond to questions from agency stakeholders. This memorandum summarizes highlights from the meeting.

A copy of the entire presentation is available here.

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SQFI Participates at Public Meeting on FSMA Proposed Rules

SQFI Stresses Strengthening the Nation’s Food Safety System and Effective, Risk-Based Regulations

On September 23, 2013 in Washington, DC , the Safe Quality Food Institute’s Senior Director of Business Operations, John Schulz, emphasized the commitment of the food manufacturing Industry and GFSI standard owners to strengthening the food safety system while addressing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) public meeting.

Information on upcoming public meetings can be found here.

Download the presentation as a PDF.

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FMI Foundation Announces Food Safety Auditing Scholarship Program

This morning, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation announced the initiation of a scholarship program aimed at students currently enrolled in food and agricultural science majors who have a vested interest in the field of accredited food safety auditing.

The FMI Foundation’s competitive scholarships focus on academic ability; leadership potential; motivation; and initiative – inclusive of passion for the food industry and the auditing profession. The new program will provide audit training and financial incentives to college undergraduate- and graduate-level food science majors. Scholarships will also include the opportunity to attend this year’s SQF International Conference in November, as well as an internship with a Certification Body.

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SQFI Releases Guidance Documents for Modules 2 & 11 of SQF Code

The SQF Institute released today, May 9th, 2013, two key documents for those suppliers seeking to implement and maintain an SQF System and for auditors assessing those systems. The documents, titled General Guidance for Developing, Documenting, Implementing, Maintaining, and Auditing an SQF System, are available for modules 2 and 11 of the SQF Code, edition 7.1.

These guidance documents have been designed to provide suppliers interpretations on how to design, develop, document, implement, and maintain an SQF System for a general food processing operation (modules 2 and 11) and to assist SQF registered auditors in auditing the SQF Code, edition 7.

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Now Available! Complete Comparison of SQF Code, Level 2 and FDA’s Preventive Controls Rule

The SQF Institute recently contracted with Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions (LP GFSS) to compare the elements of SQF Level 2 certification (specifically Modules 2 and 11) to the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed Preventive Controls rule. Dr. David Acheson, Partner and Managing Director at LP GFSS, and his team identified similarities between the SQF Code at Level 2 and the proposed Preventative Controls rule.

Last week, SQF received the executive summary of the comparison and a cover letter from Dr. Acheson in which he stated, “that being SQF level 2 certified to today’s SQF Code is a very strong start” to being in compliance with the new requirements of the proposed Preventive Controls rule.

On April 9th, 2013, the complete SQF Code Level 2 and Preventative Controls proposed rule comparison report was received, and provides side-by-side comparison between the SQF Code Level 2 and FDA’s Preventative Controls proposed rule. The comparison report specifies where SQF Level 2 certification exceeds the regulations of FDA’s proposed Preventative Controls rule and also defines where there is a difference.

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A Robust Comparison of SQF Code, Level 2 and FDA’s Preventive Controls Rule Released

The SQF Institute recently contracted with Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions (LP GFSS) to compare the elements of SQF Level 2 certification (specifically Modules 2 and 11) to the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed Preventive Controls Rule. Dr. David Acheson, Partner and Managing Director at LP GFSS, and his team identified similarities between the SQF Code at Level 2 and the proposed Preventative Controls rule. They also articulated areas in which the SQF Institute could better align with the new rules.

Last week, SQF received the executive summary of the comparison and a cover letter from Dr. Acheson in which he stated, “that being SQF level 2 certified to today’s SQF Code is a very strong start” to being in compliance with the new requirements of the proposed Preventive Controls rule. The executive summary provides a table defining, element by element, the similarities and differences between the SQF code, Level 2 and the proposed controls rule. The executive summary also proposes how SQF certified facilities regulated by FDA can effectively meet the requirements of both SQF and FDA in the future.

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