Document, document, document! If it is not documented, it is not done!

There are several key reasons why documentation is essential. Well-written programs help to ensure continuity of best practices, which in turn, lead to a safe and consistent product. In addition, accurate and complete records will help to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, company and facility management standards, audit standards, and customer expectations.

Leave a comment »

Announcing the Release of the New SQF Fundamentals Program

Food safety is a critical component of a successful supplier/buyer trading partnership, and SQFI has created an approach for small to medium size food producers who don’t have a robust food safety program in place that satisfies buyers and retailer’s concerns.

Today, SQFI released their Fundamentals Program for Food Manufacturing and the Fundamentals Program for Primary Producers. Each program has both basic and intermediate levels and provides a step-by-step approach to improve food safety management.  The SQF Fundamentals Program helps to facilitate retailer acceptance of entrepreneurs, providing food safety security and acceptance along the supply chain.

Our new approach will be beneficial to up-and-coming businesses by providing the following:

  • A streamlined path to GFSI Food Safety Certification
  • The technical requirements in all the Food Safety Fundamental Codes meet the requirements in the GFSI Global Markets Programme.
  • The layout and design of the SQF Codes, including the Fundamentals Code, is designed to help you achieve the level of food safety certification that you need. Each Code builds on the previous one to provide a continuous improvement certification pathway.

Some advantages of using the new SQF Fundamentals Program are:

  • Only CBs licensed to SQF can issue a certificate against the SQF Fundamentals Code
  • Only auditors that are registered with SQF can audit against the SQF Fundamentals Code
  • There is no score issued upon completion of the certification or certification audit. However, for those sites that need a score to meet a retailer requirement, there is an option for scoring. The goal was to place the emphasis on the level of non-conformance and the number of deficiencies issued. A site passes and receives a certificate all non-conformances have been closed out and a surveillance audit is required for those sites that received 2 major or 10 minor non-conformances.


To further help the emerging business succeed with our program, SQFI has developed training tools and capacity building strategies, because we know these business owners will need support and assistance along the way.  The training tools we’ve created are key resources to the business because they often don’t have the means to have a full time dedicated food safety professional on staff.  Because we know learning about the program and adapting this into a business does not happen overnight, SQFI has allowed for about a 6th month implementation of this program and audits will be able to begin on January 1, 2019.

SQFI has established a three-pronged approach to expertly address the learning and access needs for varying audiences:

  • Online course (focus is on the Intermediate Level)
  • Paper-based, self-directed learning tools
  • Instructor-led training by approved licensed trainers


Join the SQFI team at noon eastern on July 24th, 2018 for a free webinar that will explain the New SQF Fundamentals Program and Partnering the Global Markets Programme and the SQF Code.  Register now at  For more information about the Fundamentals Program and to download a free copy of the code, visit our Fundamentals page.

Leave a comment »

Conducting a Risk Assessment to Assess Your Environmental Needs

With the release of the SQF Code Edition 8, we made some important changes to strengthen and improve our program.  One of the major changes we made was to the environmental monitoring requirement.  In our May Newsletter, we explore the changes we made, dive deeper into the reasoning of why we made the change, and provide you with solutions on conducting a successful risk assessment.

Environmental monitoring was previously listed within the GMP module. In Edition 8, we moved it to the system elements portion of our code.  What we were finding is that sites weren’t identifying how they were assessing environmental monitoring in their facility, rather they were arguing why they were not a high risk facility.  While we expect all food manufacturing sites to have environmental monitoring as part of their risk assessment, the level of the environmental monitoring program is based on the risk of the food manufacturing site.

This is not a mandatory element, so you may have some sites that can be exempt, or view this element as not applicable, but the site first needs to conduct a risk assessment to identify their environmental needs.  However, the needs of the site can vary.  The site could need an annual assessment or a daily assessment; it just depends on the risk to that facility.

The environmental monitoring approach hasn’t changed with what was put into module 11 and neither has the definition.

Leave a comment »

The Plan is Always Progress and Continuous Improvement

The Plan is Always Progress and Continuous Improvement

At SQFI our mission and vision of protecting the food supply chain from farm to fork is again exemplified with the addition of our NEW SQF Food Safety Fundamentals programs.   In this month’s newsletter we are going to introduce our four new codes and invite you to share your feedback about their implementation and scope of coverage.  These four new codes are SQFI’s solution to GFSI’s Global Markets programme. The goal of these new codes is to provide a stream line approach for GFSI certification for small and medium emerging businesses that will meet retailer needs.   Our objective is also to facilitate market access locally, create mutual acceptance along the supply chain and provide a framework for mentoring smaller and medium sized businesses.

Our NEW fundamentals program is divided up into two different categories with a step wise approach for process improvement, and the answer to the needs of retailers who want to give the smaller and medium sized suppliers who don’t have a lot of resources to implement the SQF Food Safety Program.

The two difference categories are:

SQF Basic Fundamentals – for Primary Production
SQF Basic Fundamentals – for Manufacturing
SQF Intermediate Fundamentals – for Primary Production
SQF Intermediate Fundamentals – for Manufacturing

We are the only GFSI CPO that has developed programs for both the Primary Production and Manufacturing Industries.  We worked directly with retailers and suppliers on our NEW codes and now we would like you to give us your feedback as well.  The public comment process is open until Midnight Eastern Standard Time on May 7, 2018.  You can find the codes for review here.    Please submit any feedback to

Below you will find a quick explanation of our goals, approach and key changes to our NEW Fundamentals program:


  • Stream line approach for GFSI certification
  • Minimize costs for the site by lowering the number of requirements to allow for shorter audit durations.
  • Develop a code for small businesses that will meet retailer needs
  • Create a mechanism for auditors to advance into additional FSCs



  • Separate primary and manufacturing Codes
  • Simplified requirements for each industry
  • Step wise approach for continuous improvement and knowledge building
  • Re-designed Part A of the code
  • Adjust auditor requirements to aid in their FSC comprehension


Key Changes

  • Separated system elements for primary and manufacturing
  • Deleted requirement for desk audit
  • Removed Score (the audit is now just pass/not pass)
  • Eliminated unannounced audits
  • Simplified auditor requirements
  • Simplified system elements and GAP/GMPs


If you are a smaller to medium supplier with limited resources to implement and sustain a successful SQF Program, and you would like to develop and place on the market trustful products while working to improve transparency of your own safety and quality requirements, then the SQF Fundamentals program is for you!


Leave a comment »

The phrase “fake it ’till you make it” should hold no place in the food industry

Food fraud costs the global food industry approximately $49 billion per year. But what is food fraud and how can you protect your business from it? Food fraud is a collective term encompassing the intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or packaging, or false or misleading statements about a product, all for economic gain. Although food fraud certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, the issue is growing in importance, thanks to ever-increasing complexities in the global food supply chain and new regulations suppliers have to adhere to.

Now more than ever, you need to take serious preventative approaches to reduce the risks that food fraud poses to public health and safety, food integrity, and your brand’s reputation.  A single incident can permanently destroy a valuable brand, cause long term industry-wide losses, close off export markets and damage trust in public institutions.

Beyond the food safety vulnerabilities, food fraud creates tremendous economic harm and undermines peoples’ trust in the food supply chain, extending to companies, the food industry and even public institutions. Addressing and preventing food fraud is important to sustain economic growth, to maintain the flow of food across longer supply chains, to increase consumer trust in the economy, and to maintain social harmony.


Leave a comment »

Using Teamwork to Achieve the Gold Standards of Food Safety

Putting together a successful food safety and quality program can seem like you’re preparing for the Olympics.  It takes commitment, dedication, resources and skills.  Whether you’re training for an individual or a team sport in the Olympics, there are multiple people that need to be involved in order to achieve success.  This mirrors the preparation for your food safety and quality programs.  In today’s world, teams are different than they were in the past.  They’re far more diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic.  But while teams face new hurdles, their success still hinges on a core set of fundamentals for group collaboration and a shared mindset.

In a recent article put out by the Harvard Business Review, they discuss what matters most to collaboration is not the personalities, attitudes, or behavioral styles of team members. Instead, what teams need to thrive are certain “enabling conditions.”   In our food safety and quality world, this can be obtained with management commitment, employee training and recognizing success.

Leave a comment »

New year, new you! What are your Resolutions?

It’s 2018…and we’d like to take this opportunity to officially wish all of our stakeholders a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

It’s a new year…this is a perfect time for a fresh start and to reset some habits and behaviors that aren’t making you be the best you possible.  What makes you come alive?  Are you honoring your calling and following your path?  Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?  A resolution is simply a course of action that you have decided on that you are determined to complete.

Don’t set yourself up for failure by vowing to make resolutions that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making New Year’s resolution you can keep!

  • Just pick one thing
  • Plan ahead
  • Anticipate problems
  • Pick a start date
  • Go for it
  • Accept failure
  • Plan rewards

At SQFI we have a new code and have set the bar high with our resolutions, otherwise known as goals, on a business level but in this newsletter you’re going to learn about our personal resolutions for 2018.  Make sure to ask us how we’re doing with our resolutions when you see us out and about!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”—– Howard Thurman.

Leave a comment »

Don’t Count the Days – Make the Days Count

Food safety has always been a passion and concern of the professionals whose jobs center on the protection of the food manufactured or grown for consumer consumption. As we reflect on our experiences from this past year, we wanted to extend our gratitude for your hard work and dedication to keeping the food supply chain safe.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

-Muhammad Ali

For the food industry, food safety management has become more than an “acquired taste”. Robust programs are a pillar for many companies within the industry, however, there is still much work to do. Management commitment and the presence of a strong food safety culture within an organization are the keys to success for these programs. A top-down, bottom-up commitment to food safety can significantly lower risks to your company’s reputation and costly product recalls.

Culture can be defined as the “personality of an organization” and measuring a personality is not easy. Establishing a company-wide positive food safety culture means obtaining the necessary management commitment to courageously confront decades of old practices and change baked-in behaviors and values.

In 2011, The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) helped to shift our food safety mindset from reactive to proactive. SQFI has responded in kind by making changes and updates over the course of the past year to help companies nurture a food safety culture that is both preemptive and positive.


SQF Code Edition 8

This year, SQFI proudly launched the SQF Code Edition 8.  With the release of the upgraded program, the goal was to re-design the Food Safety and Quality Code to fit the needs of the operation and industry sectors, update system elements and Good Industry Practices, and focus on the latest food safety issues and regulatory requirements.  We went from 1 big standard to 7 distinct industry-specific programs and eliminated our Level categories.  With the release of the upgraded program, we provide our stakeholders with relevant and robust resources to address the changing regulatory and food safety landscape and take the scope of our food safety and quality programs to the next level.  One major modification to the SQF Code is our approach to food quality certification.  The Edition 8 Quality Program is formally Level 3 and although sites must remain certified to the SQF Food Safety Code related to their industry, the outcome of the quality audit does not affect the score or rating of the food safety audit.  We’ve changed the scoring of the quality audit to just pass or fail, and incorporated feedback from both retailers and suppliers to make the program more robust.


SQF Food Safety Code for Food Retail

SQFI announced its newest certification program, the SQF Food Safety Code for Food Retail. The certificate is designed for any retail and wholesale grocer wanting another layer of brand protection to help ensure they are properly protecting consumers.  The program covers the system elements, and Good Retail Practices for retail, wholesale and grocery.  The program outlines that there will be a review at the corporate and individual store level with an option to participate in a Multi-site program.


Refining Communication Tactics

With the vast and ever-increasing number of events, training classes, program developments, and educational resources that are being developed and hosted by SQFI, we found it was necessary to re-think our primary communication strategy for 2017 to achieve greater visibility with stakeholders and create a better experience for customers. To meet this goal, SQFI implemented a monthly newsletter that consolidates our events and information and facilitates a thought-leadership exchange in the food safety, quality and ethical sourcing industries. As a result, our new communication strategy experienced a 25% increase in member engagement.


Food Safety Across the Globe

Today’s consumer wants to buy both local and global products, expect more diverse product offerings, and obtain their food through a variety of different channels.  Protecting the supply chain has never been more crucial than it is today, and with regulatory and government rules and regulations increasing, implementing the SQF Program has never been more important to your business.  The SQF Program is a global standard that is truly farm to fork.

SQFI’s international outreach included travels to Guadalajara Mexico to exhibit and present at Expo ANTAD & Alimentaria and our Supplier Seminar Series trip to Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. During our journeys abroad, we met with regional retailers, suppliers, government officials, and other food safety professionals to discuss the impact of FSMA’s Foreign Supplier Verification, the future of food safety, and recent program developments at SQFI.

Back in Washington, D.C., the China Food and Drug Delegation visited SQFI to gather our expertise on U.S. regulations, learn about the SQF Program and FMI Food Safety resources, and explore how we can work together to keep food safe throughout the supply chain.  These visits proved that food safety has no borders and marked a fantastic opportunity for the SQFI team to engage with the major retailers of the region and discuss mutual developments in food safety.


As we reflect back on our experiences over the previous year, we recognize that “success does not happen in a vacuum and that you’re only as good as the people you work with and the people you work for”. From all of us at SQFI, we would like to thank you for your unwavering commitment to food safety and wish you a safe and merry holiday season.

– The SQFI Team


Leave a comment »

GFSI Global Market Awards…Apply Today! Deadline to Apply is December 14, 2017

GFSI is reiterating its Global Markets Awards for a second edition. And they are better and bigger this year! The GFSI 2018 Global Markets Programme Awards will recognize five companies from across the globe, that have leveraged the GFSI Global Markets Programme in an exemplary way on their journey towards a world class food safety system. The awards include travel and attendance at the 2018 Global Food Safety conference and at the discovery tour (to know more about GFSC 2018:

Safe food for consumers, everywhere by rewarding food and beverage companies from all over the world!

GFSI’s vision is to provide safe food for consumers, everywhere. As such, Global Markets Programme Awards intent to highlight the food safety journey of companies from all over the world who have used the Global Markets Programme Awards to create an enabling environment for food safety in their organization, their plants, their farms. Therefore, GFSI has created this award which will apply to four different regions of the world: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Rest of the World. Additionally, GFSI will give a special recognition each year for a company in the country hosting the Global Food Safety Conference. This year, this special recognition will go to a Japanese company who has used the Global Markets Programme to create an enabling environment on food safety, based on the same criteria as the four awards, as GFSC 2018 is taking place in Tokyo from March 5th to 8th 2018.

A new edition with a selection committee!

During the summer a dedicated steering committee made of industry members has worked on new criteria and scoring to launch this new edition of the Global Markets Awards. Members gave a specific attention to the inclusivity of the criteria and scoring to have the most diversify applicants from around the world.

A dedicated selection committee made of food safety personalities and academics from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America will judge the Global Markets Awards. Mike Taylor, former US FDA commissioner is chairing the selection committee.

Show us your food safety journey, your food safety efforts and your food safety improvement by using the Global Markets Programme!

The Global Markets Awards intend to reward the change that a company, a farm, a plant has made by creating an enabling environment on food safety by using the GFSI programme to certification. GFSI wants to reward companies’ engagement all over the world to improve their food safety journey. The GFSI Awards Selection Committee will focus on the size of the steps of the journey that the company has made and the efforts made. Show us how the Global Markets Programme has encouraged and accelerated your food safety journey by providing an enabling environment for safer food!

The awards have seven criteria, five eligibility criteria and two additional criteria. The mandatory eligibility criteria (for the full eligibility criteria description, please see the dedicated table below) specify that a company:

–          is a food and/or beverage company

–          Has an annual revenue below $250 000 000 USD

–          Is on a food safety journey with noticeable developments

–          Has an Food Safety Management System and implementation evidences of this FSMS

–          Has a third-party conformity assessment

The additional criteria are not mandatory and any applicant can be eligible to participate with no additional criteria submitted. Eligibility criteria account for 100 points of the total possible scoring and the additional criteria account for 20 additional points of possible scoring.

To apply and to know in details the awards requirements,

GFSI is pleased to partner again with greenfence, who is generously sponsoring these significant awards for the second year in a row.

Thank you for your support.

1 Comment

Another Successful and Valuable SQF International Conference in the books!

The 2017 SQF International Conference opened with a bang! With a record attendance of 862, the next few days were an engaging experience that sharpened skills and gave the attendees tools and resources needed to implement, maintain and strengthen their food safety and quality systems.

Robert Garfield, Chief Food Safety Assessment Officer& Senior VP for SQFI kicked off the conference with encouraging words for the audience and announced the ten 2017 FMI Foundation Scholarship and Travel Grant winners and the 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award winner. Rocio Salgado from AIB International won the well deserved 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award. Eva Lauve from Stemilt Growers, LLC was awarded the 2017 SQFI Distinguished Service Award, an award that is given to an individual for their countless hours of dedication and hard work in the food safety industry.

Walter Bond delivered an emotional opening keynote session that set the stage for the conference with the passionate deliverance of his life story, woven with key takeaways about thinking, executing and winning in both your personal and professional worlds. He spoke to the audience about changing your mindset and that success is a team sport.

The afternoon was spent with peers gathered at the FSC Roundtables, learning about food fraud and vulnerability and Ethics, Intuition and Reasonable Suspicion when it comes to violence or the contamination of food in the workplace. Dr. John Spink and Rod Wheeler gave compelling presentations and examples that resonated with the audience.

Attendees ended the day with a fun a lively happy hour sponsored by Tri Air Testing!

Day 2 of the SQF International Conference had been well anticipated for many months. The conference opened with the announcement of the 2017 SQFI Practitioner of the Year Award and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times Business Reporter, Charles Duhigg, and his fascinating keynote on the Power of Habit. Duhigg enlightened the audience with scientific research and real-life examples of how habits form, manage our lives and influence everything we do. Changing habits and discussing how the food safety and quality industry need to understanding them was explored by the expert panel discussion that followed Duhigg’s presentation.

The meat of Wednesday’s agenda was seasoned with breakout sessions and workshops that ranged from topics on best practices of allergen labeling management to having hard conversations about culture change, to the SQFI’s new assessment database, to understanding and trusting your gut instincts.

The day closed out with the well-anticipated SQF Town Hall general session, where SQFI’s Vice President of Technical Affairs, LeAnn Chuboff, presented on the technical and business developments SQFI has rolled out in 2017, as well as plans and goals for SQFI in the future. The session was mainly dedicated to explanations and questions surrounded by the launch of the SQF Code Edition 8 and implementing it, and keeping current with global regulatory processes.

The day closed out after an extremely fun social event where attendees put on their party hats and enjoyed old school arcade games, karaoke, and dancing while sipping on refreshing and relaxing cocktails. The event was generously sponsored by EAGLE Certification Group who won the best-dressed contests with their tide-eye t-shirts. Thanks to everyone that participated!

The final day of the SQF Conference started with a live broadcast of the webinar series put on by 3M and Neumann Risk Services, LLC about the link between food safety culture and audit preparedness. Attendees then split up into breakout sessions that included topics such as complying with FDA’s Sanitary Transport Rule, using environmental pathogen surveillance to prevent foodborne illness, and a brand owners journey implementing and using SQFI’s Ethical Sourcing standard. The conference closing keynote was given by Chipotle’s William Espey on the very important and relevant topic of maintaining brand integrity through a crisis.

As I sat and listened to William speak, his messages resonated and rang true to me. As the brand manager for SQFI and the SQF Conference, I looked around the crowded room of my engaged stakeholders and wondered how they perceived the SQFI and the SQF Conference brand. I reflected on all the hard work and long exhausting hours it took so many to put on the SQF International Conference and make it a huge success. One of many inspiring lines William said really stuck with me. He said “Be true to who you are as a brand. Be something to someone…not everything to no one.” At SQFI we are truly focused on delivering the safest and highest quality products to buyers and consumers.  I want to sincerely Thank everyone that attended the 2017 SQF International Conference, the generous sponsors and exhibitors, and the dedicated SQF Conference planning committee and FMI/SQFI Staff for delivering a fantastic conference!

Don’t forget to Save the Date for the 2018 SQF International Conference, October 23-25th…we’ll see you next year in Atlanta.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

—-John Quincy Adams