Fundamentals Program

The Fundamentals Program helps smaller facilities or organizations protect their brands from the risk of a recall and satisfies buyer requirements. This program helps to facilitate retailer acceptance of entrepreneurs, providing food safety management and uniformity along the supply chain.

Who It's For

The SQF Fundamentals Program, also known as the SQF Fundamentals Code, is designed for small food businesses seeking a simplified and streamlined approach to food safety and quality management. While it shares similarities with the full SQF Certification Program, the SQF Fundamentals Program has specific features tailored to the needs of small-scale operations such as:

  • Entrepreneurs.
  • Emerging, early-stage, small to medium-sized manufacturers.
  • Producers looking to meet retailer/wholesaler requirements and get products to shelves.

Program Goals

Built as a lower level approach, the Fundamentals Program helps integrate robust food safety standards into your existing practices while creating a pathway to achieving globally accepted SQF Certification recognized by GFSI.

While the program simplifies certain aspects of the full SQF Certification, it still provides a framework for establishing effective food safety management systems and building trust with customers and stakeholders.

The Codes within the Fundamentals Program provide a seamless transition to our Food Safety Program, which is benchmarked to the GFSI requirements. The Fundamental Codes were developed using the GFSI Global Markets Program toolkit, which meets many retailers’ and buyers’ requirements for small and medium food producers. This program creates a scenario where all parties benefit from safer food and increased brand protection. 

Program Features

Some of the key program features of SQF Fundamentals include:

  • Fundamentals has Codes for both the manufacturing and primary production food sectors, with basic and intermediate levels for both.
  • The program incorporates the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) to systematically identify and control food safety hazards. While the HACCP principles are simplified in the SQF Fundamentals Program, they still provide a structured framework for identifying and managing critical control points.
  • The Basic Codes focus on the implementation of the Code requirements and less on documentation. Within the Intermediate Codes, the main focus is still on implementation, but there is also an introduction to documentation.
  • The technical requirements in all the Fundamental Codes meet the requirements in the GFSI Global Markets Program.
  • The Code development uses retailer and public review and feedback.
  • Only licensed SQF Certification Bodies issue a certificate against the Fundamentals Code.
  • Certification Bodies qualify SQF Fundamentals auditors by providing an entry point for food safety auditors.
  • No score is issued upon completion of the certification or certification audit; there is an option for scoring to meet the retailer’s requirement. Instead, the program places emphasis on the level of non-conformance and the number of deficiencies issued instead of a final score, which drives continuous improvement. There is no unannounced audit requirement in this program.

SQF Fundamentals Certificate: Upon successful completion of the certification process, organizations receive an SQF Fundamentals Certificate. This certificate demonstrates their commitment to food safety and quality management and may be used to enhance their credibility with customers and stakeholders.