December 14, 2017
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.”
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