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Getting Started on Your SQF Journey

October 12, 2021

So, you decided to get certified to the Safe Quality Food standard, the rigorous food safety and quality program recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and retailers, CPGs and foodservice operations around the world.

Now what? How do you certify?
Most people that are new the certification process want to know, how long the certification will take. The timeframe really depends on your initial risk assessment. The process from opting in for the SQF program to earning your certification generally from four to eight months on average. Much of that time will be spent preparing for the actual audit, which is a rather short process in and of itself.

 

Here are some of the first steps to take on the road to SQF certification:

Learn: Plan your journey. Learn as much as you can about the latest SQF Code. SQFI has published a comprehensive downloadable review of the code on our website, and we offer both instructor-led and online courses and informational seminars outlining the program and what’s entailed for participating businesses. You can also work with independent food safety and quality SQF consultants who are well versed in the SQF program.

Register: To make it official, you must register your organization in the SQF Assessment Database under the proper and most fitting classification and industry. Choosing your type of certification will get the process moving.

Prepare for Your Audit

Enlist a staff lead: You need to identify a team member at your company who drive and lead you forward and who will be one of the needed SQF Practitioner on your site. That person must be a full-time employee who has completed a HACCP-based training course and who can clearly implement and maintain Good Manufacturing Practices for your industry. A thorough understanding of the relevant SQF Code, of course, is also needed for the role. An SQF Practitioner can be enlisted to conduct a pre-audit assessment to see where you currently stack up in the requirements.

Find your co-pilot: One of the choices your organization and its SQF Practitioner must make is the certification body that will conduct and review the audit to the SQF standard. Certification Bodies are licensed by SQFI to conduct SQF audits and issue the SQF certificate. Certification Bodies are the businesses that employ the auditors who conduct site audits.

SQFI partners with licensed Certification Bodies that operate both nationwide and around the globe. SQFI can help you find a licensed certification body that aligns best with your needs, both from a business and location standpoint; begin that selection process by using the website’s interactive map. Once you identify your certification body, you can schedule the audit and start preparing your organization and team.

How long does it take to gain SQF certification?
The certification process varies based on your organization’s size and operations. Also consider the time it will take to prepare for the audit. Your CB will help you determine a target date for completion based on your company’s unique circumstances.

How much does SQF certification cost? There are several costs associated with becoming SQF certified, including registration in the SQF database, the certification audit, consultant assistance (optional) and SQF practitioner training (optional). Your Certification Body will be able to give you an estimate.

No matter where you are in the route to enhanced food safety and quality, SQFI’s experts are here to help. If you can’t find answers to your questions on our resource pages, reach out to us online or call (202) 220-0635.

Download Flyer and Brochures

SQF Food Safety Certification Overview Flyer
SQFI Guide to Food Safety Certification Brochure
SQFI Guide to Food Safety Certification Brochure – Spanish

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