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SQF Program FAQs

How does SQF differ from other food safety certification programs?

  • The SQF Program offers many unique features that ensure trust and consistency in the auditing process and greater oversight of auditing activities conducted by companies and individuals operating on behalf of the SQF Institute.
  • SQF is the only program, recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) that is headquartered outside of Europe.
  • SQFI provides complimentary copies of the SQF codes and free, comprehensive practical guidance to assist in the implementation of SQF systems.
  • SQF is the only GFSI recognized standard that provides a separate, unique approach to incorporating a Quality certification component.
  • Improves process management by helping to proactively identify and manage risk so as to avoid stock recoveries, market withdrawals and rework.
  • SQF offers comprehensive and consistent training that upholds the integrity of the Program.

I recently heard of the SQF Information Day program. What is an SQF Information Day? Can I attend one?

The SQF Information Day is a day-long, in-person informational seminar designed to introduce food suppliers at all levels of the food chain to the benefits of food safety and quality certification.

An ideal outlet for new business, Information Day attendees will leave with new insights, connections, and a clear understanding of how they can implement a food safety and quality program.

The SQF Information Day is targeted primarily to:

  • Food producers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers
  • Food safety and quality experts, consultants, trainers, auditors, and service providers
  • Food organizations and officials from federal and state government food safety programs

For SQF Information Day registration information, or other details, click here.

How does my company become SQF certified?

Click here for a step by step list summarizing the SQF certification process for suppliers. This can also be found in the “Get Started” tab of our website. The certification process is also mapped out in detail in Part A of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

How much does it cost to become SQF certified?

There are several costs associated with becoming SQF certified, including registration with the SQF database, the certification audit, consultant assistance (optional) and SQF Practitioner training (optional). A list of fees can be found here.

What is a food sector category (FSC)?

An FSC, or food sector category, is a food industry classification established by SQF. A breakdown of each FSC can be found in Appendix I of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

Where can I find the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2 audit checklist?

The SQF Code, Ed. 7.2 checklist is available on the SQF website, under the Documents tab. This document is downloadable in Excel format and is currently free of charge. An easy to read, writable pdf version of  the checklist is also available in the SQFI store.

How do I schedule an audit?

Audits are conducted by licensed SQF Certification Bodies, on behalf of SQF. The first step in achieving certification is registering with the SQF assessment database if you have not yet done so. Once registered, you will be able to select a licensed Certification Body to carry out your audit. The audit can then be scheduled directly with the Certification Body you have selected. All SQF licensed Certification Bodies can be found here.

What is a SQF Practitioner and how can I become one?

The SQF Practitioner is an individual, designated by a Supplier to develop, validate, verify, implement and maintain that Suppliers own SQF System. The SQF Practitioner details shall be verified by the SQF Auditor at each audit as meeting the requirements specified in sections and of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

How long does an audit take?

This depends on the nature and size of the organization and the level of certification requested. Audit duration for desk and facility audits can be found in Part A of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

What is the benefit of hiring an SQF Consultant?

An SQF Consultant is someone who has undergone a rigorous application process to provide you with expert counseling on how to implement the SQF program within your facility. SQF Consultants are also a great industry resource should you have any questions that arise during your implementation of the SQF system.

Once certified, can I use the SQF Logo or SQF Quality Shield? If so, what are the rules and restrictions?

SQF Professionals and Level 2 and 3 certified suppliers are granted authorization to use of the SQFI logo on any internal materials. The SQF logo can be obtained from SQFI at The Rules of Use are specified in Appendix 3 of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

Level 3 certified suppliers are additionally granted permission to use of the SQF Quality Shield on any products and marketing materials. The SQF Quality Shield can only be obtained from your Certification Body.

What is the SQF International Conference and how can I attend?

The Safe Quality Food International Conference is your opportunity to enhance your food safety and food quality assurance programs. The SQF International conference is designed to introduce attendees to new technologies, tools and potential partners to further increase their ability to protect their customers, branding and bottom line.

Conference participants leave with actionable insights, plans, connections, and a clear understanding of how they can improve or implement a food safety and quality program. Designed for current and prospective SQF users, the SQF International Conference includes many professional development opportunities.

Save the date! The 2016 SQF International Conference will be taking place in Orlando, Florida from October 25th-27th.

Questions concerning future conferences? Contact us.