What Is SQF?

Globalization has revolutionized the food supply chain, and with it comes a whole new world of existing opportunities for companies. As countries globally increase their demand for food ingredients and raw materials, protecting the consumer while promoting food safety, security, and quality throughout the supply chain is imperative.

GFSI, the Global Food Safety Initiative, is a collaborative effort among food industry stakeholders. It aims to guarantee the safety of food products across the supply chain by setting globally recognized standards. GFSI ensures consistency and fosters continuous improvement in food safety practices through its benchmarks for food safety management systems.

SQF is a food safety standard recognized by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). GFSI has approved SQF as one of the benchmarked schemes that meet their stringent requirements for food safety management systems. This recognition means that companies implementing SQF can demonstrate compliance with GFSI's global standards, enhancing their credibility and market access.

The SQF (Safe Quality Food) Institute is a division of FMI—The Food Industry Association, established to administer the SQF Program, a leading global food safety and quality certification and management system.

Our mission is to deliver consistent, globally recognized food safety and quality certification programs based on sound scientific principles, applied across all industry sectors, and valued by all stakeholders.

What is SQF

What is the SQF Food Safety Certification Program?

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program is a rigorous and credible food safety and quality program that is recognized by retailers, brand owners, and foodservice providers worldwide. The SQF Food Safety Codes are designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements for all sectors of the food supply chain – from the farm all the way to retail stores.

At our core, we are dedicated to upholding the highest standards in food safety. Achieving SQF certification is not only a testament to your commitment to quality and safety but also a reflection of your unwavering dedication to meeting and exceeding industry regulations.

By becoming SQF certified, your company will not only enhance its reputation as a trusted and reliable partner in the food industry but also open doors to new business opportunities. SQF certification serves as a powerful differentiator, setting you apart from competitors and instilling confidence in your customers and stakeholders.

We are excited about the positive impact this certification will have on your business, and we look forward to working closely with you to make it a reality.

The SQF Program extends across the globe, with a community of 14,000+ certified sites in over 40 countries across 6 continents.

Our History

  • 1994

    The SQF Codes are developed in Australia.

  • 2000

    In a survey, FMI members identify food safety as the number one issue that had a dramatic impact on their daily operations.

  • 2003

    FMI purchases the SQF Program on September 1, 2003, from the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and establishes the SQF Institute to manage the program from FMI’s head office in Arlington, VA, USA.

  • 2004

    The SQF Codes are recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as a standard that meets its benchmark requirements.

  • 2021

    SQF Codes Edition 9 released.

Why Did FMI Purchase SQFI?

In a 2000 survey, FMI members identified food safety as the number one issue that had a dramatic impact on their daily operations. Members recognized that success would require a total management approach, which begins with the producer or manufacturer.

FMI acknowledged that incorporating a site certification program would bolster their existing food safety initiatives, including in-store operations, employee training, and consumer education. The Site Program serves as the cornerstone for ensuring food safety across the entire supply chain. The SQF Food Safety Management Program effectively coordinates adherence to buyer specifications and pre-requisite programs (such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), etc.), thereby providing further assurance to the integrity of the food chain. By encompassing farm-to-fork, the SQF program is a valuable tool for effectively managing food safety and quality.

SQF Certification

SQF certification provides an independent and external verification that a product, process, or service complies with international, regulatory, and other specified standard(s) and enables a food producer to give assurances that food has been produced, prepared, and handled according to the highest possible standards.

Comprised of 13 industry-specific codes, the SQF family of codes provides step by step instructions for production and manufacture sites to become SQF certified.

History of the SQF Codes

In 1995, the first edition of SQF 2000 was issued, and in the year 2000, SQF 1000 for primary producers was released. The SQF 2000 Code was endorsed by GFSI in 2004, and the SQF 1000 Code was endorsed by GFSI in 2005. In 2008, the codes were revised and resubmitted to GFSI; both codes were benchmarked. The SQF Codes are based on sound science, universally accepted CODEX Alimentarius HACCP Guidelines, and the ISO 17065, and they offer the food sector a way to manage food safety and quality simultaneously. The SQF Codes are designed to help sites achieve the necessary level of food safety certification.

Each code builds on previous editions to provide a continuous improvement certification pathway. Sites can join the pathway at a level that best suits their business and market needs or choose to progress through the different levels offered.

Meet the SQF International Team

SQF’s Business Development team is located around the world and is here to help you with SQF certification. Click below to find your regional representative and book a meeting.

SQF International Team Map

Did You Know?

The SQF Program extends across the globe, with a community that includes


The network of SQF certified sites spans over 40 countries


Our global presence is on 6 continents


We have more than 14,000 certified sites

  • I had a colleague tell me once, that as food manufacturers, we don’t have a right to supply people with food, we have a privilege. I think that a statement like that really embodies what we’re trying to do with SQF in driving positive food safety culture.

    - Kali Stone, SQF auditor with Mérieux NutriSciences