Don’t Count the Days – Make the Days Count

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.”

-Muhammad Ali

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


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GFSI Global Market Awards…Apply Today! Deadline to Apply is December 14, 2017

GFSI is reiterating its Global Markets Awards for a second edition. And they are better and bigger this year! The GFSI 2018 Global Markets Programme Awards will recognize five companies from across the globe, that have leveraged the GFSI Global Markets Programme in an exemplary way on their journey towards a world class food safety system. The awards include travel and attendance at the 2018 Global Food Safety conference and at the discovery tour (to know more about GFSC 2018:

Safe food for consumers, everywhere by rewarding food and beverage companies from all over the world!

GFSI’s vision is to provide safe food for consumers, everywhere. As such, Global Markets Programme Awards intent to highlight the food safety journey of companies from all over the world who have used the Global Markets Programme Awards to create an enabling environment for food safety in their organization, their plants, their farms. Therefore, GFSI has created this award which will apply to four different regions of the world: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Rest of the World. Additionally, GFSI will give a special recognition each year for a company in the country hosting the Global Food Safety Conference. This year, this special recognition will go to a Japanese company who has used the Global Markets Programme to create an enabling environment on food safety, based on the same criteria as the four awards, as GFSC 2018 is taking place in Tokyo from March 5th to 8th 2018.

A new edition with a selection committee!

During the summer a dedicated steering committee made of industry members has worked on new criteria and scoring to launch this new edition of the Global Markets Awards. Members gave a specific attention to the inclusivity of the criteria and scoring to have the most diversify applicants from around the world.

A dedicated selection committee made of food safety personalities and academics from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and North America will judge the Global Markets Awards. Mike Taylor, former US FDA commissioner is chairing the selection committee.

Show us your food safety journey, your food safety efforts and your food safety improvement by using the Global Markets Programme!

The Global Markets Awards intend to reward the change that a company, a farm, a plant has made by creating an enabling environment on food safety by using the GFSI programme to certification. GFSI wants to reward companies’ engagement all over the world to improve their food safety journey. The GFSI Awards Selection Committee will focus on the size of the steps of the journey that the company has made and the efforts made. Show us how the Global Markets Programme has encouraged and accelerated your food safety journey by providing an enabling environment for safer food!

The awards have seven criteria, five eligibility criteria and two additional criteria. The mandatory eligibility criteria (for the full eligibility criteria description, please see the dedicated table below) specify that a company:

–          is a food and/or beverage company

–          Has an annual revenue below $250 000 000 USD

–          Is on a food safety journey with noticeable developments

–          Has an Food Safety Management System and implementation evidences of this FSMS

–          Has a third-party conformity assessment

The additional criteria are not mandatory and any applicant can be eligible to participate with no additional criteria submitted. Eligibility criteria account for 100 points of the total possible scoring and the additional criteria account for 20 additional points of possible scoring.

To apply and to know in details the awards requirements,

GFSI is pleased to partner again with greenfence, who is generously sponsoring these significant awards for the second year in a row.

Thank you for your support.

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Another Successful and Valuable SQF International Conference in the books!

The 2017 SQF International Conference opened with a bang! With a record attendance of 862, the next few days were an engaging experience that sharpened skills and gave the attendees tools and resources needed to implement, maintain and strengthen their food safety and quality systems.

Robert Garfield, Chief Food Safety Assessment Officer& Senior VP for SQFI kicked off the conference with encouraging words for the audience and announced the ten 2017 FMI Foundation Scholarship and Travel Grant winners and the 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award winner. Rocio Salgado from AIB International won the well deserved 2017 SQFI Auditor of the Year award. Eva Lauve from Stemilt Growers, LLC was awarded the 2017 SQFI Distinguished Service Award, an award that is given to an individual for their countless hours of dedication and hard work in the food safety industry.

Walter Bond delivered an emotional opening keynote session that set the stage for the conference with the passionate deliverance of his life story, woven with key takeaways about thinking, executing and winning in both your personal and professional worlds. He spoke to the audience about changing your mindset and that success is a team sport.

The afternoon was spent with peers gathered at the FSC Roundtables, learning about food fraud and vulnerability and Ethics, Intuition and Reasonable Suspicion when it comes to violence or the contamination of food in the workplace. Dr. John Spink and Rod Wheeler gave compelling presentations and examples that resonated with the audience.

Attendees ended the day with a fun a lively happy hour sponsored by Tri Air Testing!

Day 2 of the SQF International Conference had been well anticipated for many months. The conference opened with the announcement of the 2017 SQFI Practitioner of the Year Award and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times Business Reporter, Charles Duhigg, and his fascinating keynote on the Power of Habit. Duhigg enlightened the audience with scientific research and real-life examples of how habits form, manage our lives and influence everything we do. Changing habits and discussing how the food safety and quality industry need to understanding them was explored by the expert panel discussion that followed Duhigg’s presentation.

The meat of Wednesday’s agenda was seasoned with breakout sessions and workshops that ranged from topics on best practices of allergen labeling management to having hard conversations about culture change, to the SQFI’s new assessment database, to understanding and trusting your gut instincts.

The day closed out with the well-anticipated SQF Town Hall general session, where SQFI’s Vice President of Technical Affairs, LeAnn Chuboff, presented on the technical and business developments SQFI has rolled out in 2017, as well as plans and goals for SQFI in the future. The session was mainly dedicated to explanations and questions surrounded by the launch of the SQF Code Edition 8 and implementing it, and keeping current with global regulatory processes.

The day closed out after an extremely fun social event where attendees put on their party hats and enjoyed old school arcade games, karaoke, and dancing while sipping on refreshing and relaxing cocktails. The event was generously sponsored by EAGLE Certification Group who won the best-dressed contests with their tide-eye t-shirts. Thanks to everyone that participated!

The final day of the SQF Conference started with a live broadcast of the webinar series put on by 3M and Neumann Risk Services, LLC about the link between food safety culture and audit preparedness. Attendees then split up into breakout sessions that included topics such as complying with FDA’s Sanitary Transport Rule, using environmental pathogen surveillance to prevent foodborne illness, and a brand owners journey implementing and using SQFI’s Ethical Sourcing standard. The conference closing keynote was given by Chipotle’s William Espey on the very important and relevant topic of maintaining brand integrity through a crisis.

As I sat and listened to William speak, his messages resonated and rang true to me. As the brand manager for SQFI and the SQF Conference, I looked around the crowded room of my engaged stakeholders and wondered how they perceived the SQFI and the SQF Conference brand. I reflected on all the hard work and long exhausting hours it took so many to put on the SQF International Conference and make it a huge success. One of many inspiring lines William said really stuck with me. He said “Be true to who you are as a brand. Be something to someone…not everything to no one.” At SQFI we are truly focused on delivering the safest and highest quality products to buyers and consumers.  I want to sincerely Thank everyone that attended the 2017 SQF International Conference, the generous sponsors and exhibitors, and the dedicated SQF Conference planning committee and FMI/SQFI Staff for delivering a fantastic conference!

Don’t forget to Save the Date for the 2018 SQF International Conference, October 23-25th…we’ll see you next year in Atlanta.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

—-John Quincy Adams


Announcing the 2017 SQFI Quality Achievement Award Winners

Arlington, VA– The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) recently announced the SQFI Quality Achievement Awards at their 2017 International Conference in Dallas, Texas.  These awards recognize individuals and organizations that contribute to and improve the SQFI program’s global mission to provide a rigorous and credible food safety management system. Finalists in each category were honored and recognized during the conference.


“Producing safe food from farm to fork is a top priority for all food retailers and manufacturers,” said Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President of SQFI. “This year’s winners of our Quality Achievement Awards demonstrate how SQF Certification goes beyond a simple food safety audit to inspire a comprehensive food safety system with checks and balances along our global supply chain.”


SQFI Auditor of the Year

Awarded to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding performance as a credentialed SQF Auditor.

  • Rocio Salgado, Certification Manager, AIB International


SQFI Practitioner of the Year

This award is given to an SQF Practitioner or an Individual within an SQF Certified facility or company, who has demonstrated accomplishments in driving continuous growth and has taken their facility or company above and beyond the SQF Program.

  • John Novak, President, Sokol & Company


SQFI Distinguished Service Award

This award is given to an individual who has freely shared his/her time and expertise throughout the industry in the areas of food safety.

  • Eva Lauve, Scheduling and Food Safety Manager, Stemilt Growers, Inc.


Congratulations again to all the winners!  You have gone beyond above-and-beyond portraying extraordinary understanding and commitment to global food safety and the SQF program!

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10 Extraordinary Students Recognized with 2017 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship

10 Extraordinary Students Recognized with 2017 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship


November 9, 2017—DALLAS – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation in conjunction with the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) recognized 10 recipients of the 2017 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship and Education Travel Grant  today at the SQF International Conference .


The scholarships recognize extraordinary students enrolled in a university food and agricultural science program interested in pursuing a career in food systems auditing. The FMI Foundation received over 80 scholarship applications this year, among them included 30 PhD candidates, 40 pursuing Masters and 13 in their junior and senior university programs.


“By partnering with SQFI on this scholarship, tour goal is to expand the pool of qualified food safety auditors and support the integrity of the safest food supply in the world,” Susan Borra, RD, executive director, FMI Foundation. “This scholarship program offers these students financial assistance to pursue a food systems auditor career path, but we also expose recipients to a networking opportunity like no other—the chance to meet and connect with food safety experts across the food industry.”


Senior Vice President of the Safe Quality Food Institute Robert Garfield commented “Auditors are on the front lines of maintaining food safety and quality at all operations and manufacturing facilities around the world.  Fostering the next generation of food safety auditors not only benefits the SQF Program, but global food safety as a whole, which in turn benefits us all as consumers.”


The recipients of the 2017 FMI Foundation Food Safety Auditing Scholarship are:

  • Ilan Arvelo-Yagua, Texas Tech University
  • Cameron Bardsley, Virginia Tech University
  • Sabra Billups, Oklahoma State University
  • Sarah Bock, The University of Georgia
  • Diego Casas, Texas Tech University
  • Emily Griep, Cornell University
  • Robyn Miranda, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Jennifer Norka, Purdue University
  • Cole Perkins, Texas Tech University
  • Kristen Saniga, North Carolina State University


Each winner receives a $3,000 scholarship with an all-expense paid trip to the SQF International Conference to network with more than 850 food safety professionals in attendance. For additional information about the FMI Foundation and the Scholarship program visit For information about Safe Quality Food Institute visit

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Food Safety Has No Borders

With the 2017 SQF International Conference right around the corner this is a good time to reflect on the fact that food safety has no borders.  In today’s world people are migrating rapidly, requiring more diverse products in their diet, and obtaining their food through a variety of different vehicles.  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 recognized by retailers and foodservice providers around the world as a rigorous, credible food safety management system. It is the only certification system recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) that offers certificates for primary production, food manufacturing, distribution and agent management. With the release of Edition 8 we now also have a certification for retail and wholesale grocers.  This enables suppliers to assure their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled according to the highest possible standards, at all levels of the supply chain. Additionally as a division of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the SQF program incorporates continual retailer feedback about consumer concerns. This information is passed on to SQF certified suppliers, keeping them a step ahead of their competitors.

Improved food safety standards, international trade and market integration are all required to address critical issues arising from the globalization of the food supply.  As countries increase their demand for food ingredients and raw materials globally, the need to protect the consumer while promoting food safety, security, and quality throughout the supply chain is imperative.

Tell us how your organization is involved with international food safety

SQFI has developed lots of great resources and tools you can use to help keep food safe globally.  We work with 33 Certification Bodies and 35 official licensed training centers globally. Our website and code can be read in 5 different languages.  We have a dedicated FSMA resource page where stakeholders can go to view information about the rules and regulations, check out our SQF Preventive Control Audit Checklist and SQF Produce Safety Rule Audit Checklist and get the latest updates on the FSVP rule.  We have multiple trainings and events globally, as well as free learning lunch webinars that are done in other languages.

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

–Christopher Columbus

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SQFI Launches Food Quality Code eLearning

WASHINGTON D.C., (October 3, 2017) – The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), owner of the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), announced the launch of it’s official online Food Quality Course. The SQF Quality Systems for Manufacturing online course helps quality, technical and managerial staff at food manufacturing facilities meet the requirements of the new SQF Quality Code (formerly SQF Level 3) that will come into effect in 2018.


“We know how important training is for suppliers, and creating this online course will help suppliers reach the next level of food safety and quality to better protect their brands and buyers,” said Robert Garfield, Chief Food Safety Assessment Officer & Senior Vice President of SQFI.


SQFI partnered with Alchemy Systems to develop the Food Quality course. Alchemy is the food industry’s largest training company and SQFI’s exclusive online training partner.  The official SQF Quality Course is available on Alchemy Academy – the leading professional development resource for food leaders.


“Alchemy is delighted to combine the knowledge SQF’s Quality Code experts with our interactive learning skills to provide a low cost, high-quality training option for food professionals,” said Raj Shah, Chief Strategy Officer of Alchemy. “Food companies can now have the peace of mind knowing that their staff will receive consistent and official SQF Quality training.”


The course’s online design enables learners to take the course at their own pace and convenience. The course modules cover: Quality Concepts, the SQF Quality Code, HACCP for Quality, Statistical Process Control, and Quality Management.


To learn more: please visit:

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Tell us your story…be apart of SQFI history!

At SQFI, we are constantly improving and evolving.  Not only are we keeping a watchful eye on the safety and quality in the industry, we are always updating our program.  Our reach – and outreach – are keys to the success of the SQF program and to the industry’s goal of providing safe food to consumers.


We are currently producing a video that will speak to the mission of SQFI, SQF accomplishments, and who SQFI serves.  It will also convey the efforts of food safety and quality professionals who ingrain a culture of food safety at every level of the food chain.


The video will be unveiled at our SQF International Conference on November 7.  It will kick off the event, and powerfully convey the theme, “A Safer World.  A Smarter You.”  After the conference, the branded production will be shared with broader audiences through our website, email campaigns, and social media channels.


The piece will include eye-catching visuals and graphics, music, and professional narration.  But, what will really engage the audience are remarks from professionals who support and utilize the program.  So, we want to spotlight individuals that are going above and beyond for their organization, community and industry.


If at all possible, we would love for you to be involved in this production.  We would work with your schedule – and also ensure you are comfortable with the content.


Ideally, we are hoping all filming can take place from September 27 through October 6, 2017 – but there is definitely some flexibility with that timeframe.


Due to the multiple locations involved in interview filming, we are asking that each on-camera subject complete their own filming.  We recognize that different organizations will have access to varying equipment and resources.  With our partnering production company, we’d provide interview talking points, filming tips (ideal set-up, framing), and wardrobe guides.   Video taken on your smart phone or tablet is completely acceptable as well!


Please let me know by September 26th if you might be available to participate in this project with us.



Sarah Malenich

Director, Sales & Marketing

Phone: 202.220.0660

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It’s Time To Focus On Quality

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Continuous improvement is not just something we preach at SQFI…it’s something we practice.  Keeping a diligent watch on the food safety and quality industry and creating relevant and timely updates to our program is the cornerstone of the SQFI mission and vision.  That’s why we’ve updated The SQF Code edition 7.2 to edition 8 and have modified our approach to food quality certification.   The September Edition of the SQFI Newsletter is focused on the new Quality Code.  We decided to modify the Quality Code because we found that the interpretation of quality elements wasn’t being addressed and we wanted to address that concern and find a solution for the suppliers.    We also learned suppliers were hesitant to go to level 3 because they didn’t want their food safety certification affected.

The SQF Quality Code provides the opportunity for companies to implement a comprehensive Food Quality Plan, with identified controls to reduce complaints and improve product consistency. Suppliers currently certified at SQF Level 3, will need to be certified in the SQF Quality Code.   We encourage all suppliers to consider this certification to improve their food safety and quality systems.

We are also excited to launch our new official SQFI on line Quality Code training class!  The SQF Quality Systems for Manufacturing training course is intended for quality, technical and managerial staff working in food manufacturing who seek to understand and differentiate between food safety management and quality management, and who are intending to implement the SQF Quality Code or update their current quality system to Edition 8.  A certificate of attendance is issued upon successful completion of the course.  The online version eliminates travel costs and gives you 30 days to complete the course.  To register for the online course click here.

There are 5 main points to remember regarding our Edition 8 Quality Code:

  • Formerly Level 3
  • Sites must remain certified to the SQF Food Safety Code related to their industry
  • Can be audited as an extension of the food safety audit or stand-alone
  • Quality audit is not scored or rated
  • Outcome of the quality audit does not affect the score or rating of the food safety audit


Tell us about what role Quality Certification plays in your facility?

Download a copy of the code

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“Audit Ready All the Time” – What it means to become an SQF Select Site

It’s essential to be audit ready. Hence the phrase: “Being audit ready all the time.” In fact, good food safety and quality practices should be adhered to and practiced on a consistent basis. Not just when your auditor or inspector is scheduled to arrive. We have created a program that takes suppliers to the next level of commitment and readiness, The SQFI Select Site program.

The option of becoming an SQFI Select Site isn’t available until January 2, 2018 but we would like to formally introduce the new program and get you acclimated to it. It’s important to start thinking about participating in the program.  Sites may continue their annual announced recertification audit schedule or, new under SQF Edition 8, may choose to participate in an annual unannounced audit which, upon successful completion, will designate the facility a SQFI Select Site.  Below is the explanation and definition you’ll find in the SQF Edition 8 code.

Transparency is the new black.  Meaning, everyone wants to look good in it!  However, being transparent about your food safety and quality processes isn’t something that is achieved overnight.  If truth and candor were systematic in corporate practice and in the regulatory protocols, your buyer could make informed decisions about purchasing your product. It takes a strong food safety culture followed by effective training and engaging communication, to tell the story to your stakeholders that you’re committed to food safety.  By volunteering in the SQFI Select Site program, it communicates to your stakeholders that you are committed to food safety and the transparency of your processes.

More information about the SQFI Select Site can be found in any SQF Edition 8 code, or you can email SQFI Customer Service at to submit an inquiry or ask questions.


Take our survey and let us know if you’re interested in participating in the SQFI Select Site Program.

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