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

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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.

Sincerely,

RobertGarfsig

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.”

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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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