After registering in the SQF Assessment Database, there are five steps to preparing for your SQF audit, which are outlined below.
Depending upon the program chosen, you may be required to designate a suitably qualified employee or SQF Practitioner to oversee the development, implementation, review, and maintenance of your SQF system.
The specific requirements for an SQF Practitioner are described in the System Elements, Part B: 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. You may also be required to have a substitute practitioner to cover all shifts or when the main practitioner is otherwise not available.
Before implementing the SQF Code, you must decide the scope of certification – in other words, the food sector categories, products, and processes to be included in your SQF system.
The scope of certification determines which requirements in your designated SQF Code are to be documented, implemented, and what your certification body will use to audit your food safety practices. The scope will need to be agreed upon between your site and the certification body before the initial certification audit. Once the scope is decided, ensure it is accurately reflected in the SQF Assessment Database.
To achieve SQF Certification, you need to document and implement the System Elements and relevant Good Industry Practices (GIP) requirements of the SQF Code you are being audited against. This is a two-stage process. First, you must prepare the policies, procedures, work instructions, and specifications that meet the system elements and GIP modules of your SQF Code. In other words, “Say what you do.”
Next, once you are satisfied that the policies, procedures, work instructions, and specifications are in place to meet the SQF requirements, you need to ensure that all documents are being followed and all records demonstrating compliance to the relevant modules of the SQF Code are being kept. In other words, “Do what you say.”
The SQFI recommends that a minimum of 90 days of records are available before a site audit is conducted.
A pre-assessment is not mandatory but can be helpful to identify the gaps in your programs prior to the initial certification audit. Either an SQF Consultant or your designated employee or SQF Practitioner can conduct an assessment using your own or SQF-provided checklist in our Resource Library.
This e-book explores how the HACCP and SQF systems are interrelated, including the following: