Embrace the New Possibilities with the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment for Very Small Businesses – A Remote Assessment
Discover a powerful new tool – the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (FVA). While it isn’t classified as a standard SQF certification program, it introduces an innovative approach to advance food safety capabilities.
To learn more about the new SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment, join us for a free digital seminar on Thursday, September 28, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Featuring an independently verified SQF Fundamentals remote assessment.
- An affordable program for demonstrating readiness to supply safe food products and ingredients to retail, food service, and major brands.
- Low cost of adoption: ~ 60% less than the cost of a typical onsite audit.
- No onsite audit. Site conducts an internal audit or self-assessment using the SQF Fundamentals code to demonstrate the site’s ability to effectively assess food safety risks and implement corrective and preventive measures.
- Internal audit or self-assessment identifies improvements needed and the implementation timeline.
- A third-party review of results evaluates the effectiveness of the internal audit and site’s readiness to supply products to retailers accepting this assessment.
- Site is issued a Verification Declaration Letter for use to promote their status under this program.
The SQF Remote FVA is distinct from traditional certifications like the SQF Fundamentals Certification or SQF Food Safety Code GFSI Benchmarked Certification. It is designed to showcase your facility’s ability to proactively identify, address, and manage potential food safety risks. While it doesn’t replace onsite audits, it offers a unique third-party verification process that demonstrates your dedication to maintaining a safe food environment.
This assessment becomes a steppingstone for initial qualification of very small businesses for supplier approval by your discerning customers who recognize the value of the SQF Remote FVA program. Your commitment shines through as you embrace this opportunity to elevate your practices.
Upon completing this empowering process, you’ll receive a Verification Declaration Letter (check out our template below) that holds the potential to strengthen your relationship with your customers. They can be assured that this declaration has been thoughtfully verified by assessors at EAGLE Certification Group.
How Does It Work?
1. SQF Assessment Database Registration – Contact EAGLE Certification Group (EAGLE Certification Group Quote Request) to register for the SQF Remote FVA program.
2. Use the SQF Fundamentals Basic of Intermediate standard requirements to document your self-assessment or internal audit. Download the SQF Fundamentals Code and review the Fundamentals Resources.
3. Correct any non-conformance identified in the internal self-assessment prior to the remote verification assessment.
4. Submit the self-assessment checklist to your assessment coordinator with corrections, supporting documents, and photos of the facility operations.
5. Half-day remote review – Assessor conducts a review of the submitted materials and provides feedback. The assessor will schedule the date with your site to facilitate preparation, document review, and remote observation of facility.
6. Respond to feedback to correct any outstanding major issues within 30 days.
7. Once complete, the assessor will issue a Verification Declaration for the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment program. See Exhibit 1 for requirements of the Verification Declaration.
This assessment becomes a steppingstone for initial qualification for supplier approval by your discerning customers who recognize the value of the SQF Remote FVA program. Your commitment shines through as you embrace this opportunity to elevate your practices.
Upon successfully completing this empowering process, you’ll receive a Verification Declaration (check out our template below) that holds the potential to strengthen your relationship with your customers. They can rest assured that this declaration has been thoughtfully verified by reaching out to the esteemed experts at EAGLE Certification Group.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the difference between SQF Fundamentals and the new SQF Fundamentals Assessment (SQF Remote FVA)?
SQFI offers two options for small manufacturers –
- SQF Fundamentals Certification
- SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (FVA)
|SQF Fundamentals Certification||SQF FVA|
|Type||On-site Audit||Remote Assessment|
|Duration||1 Day||0.5 Day|
|Report||Audit Report & Corrective Actions||Executive Summary & Corrective Actions|
Who is eligible for the SQF FVA program?
Operators who meet the definition of a Qualified facility according to US 21 CFR 117.3 are eligible for the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment; paraphrased here;
A Qualified facility means the collective sales of the business entity to which the facility is associated as a sole operating site, or as a subsidiary or an affiliate to, is a very small business, where ‘very small business” means a business (including any subsidiaries and affiliates) averaging less than $1,000,000 USD in US market value, [or the equivalent local market value for sites located outside of the US] per year on average over the prior three years in sales including the value of human food held in inventory without sale, and is subject to 21 CFR 117.201 Modified requirements that apply to a qualified facility;
or to which both of the following apply:
(1) During the 3-year period preceding the applicable calendar year, the average annual monetary value of the food produced for sale that is sold directly to consumers (not businesses) or to local food-service establishments, exceeded the average annual monetary value of the food sold by such facility to all other purchasers; and
(2) The average annual monetary value of all food sold during the 3-year period preceding the applicable calendar year was less than $500,000 USD, adjusted for inflation.
What records and documents do I have to show?
At a minimum, you would need to supply the following;
- Product and process descriptions,
- Documented food safety risks and control measures,
- Process flow charts, facility map, sanitation procedures, pest control procedures, regulatory inspection report issue in the past 24 months where applicable (federal, state, or local reports), and the associated corrective actions, (remote audits included)
- Evidence of corrective measures such as pictures, work orders, and documents and records corrective action evidence if applicable,
- and qualifications of the person responsible for the food safety plans.
Will I receive a certificate?
No, this program is not a certification and does not satisfy requirements for onsite audits such as SQF Fundamentals Certification or SQF Food Safety Code GFSI Benchmarked Certification.
The SQF FVA demonstrates your site’s capacity to identify, correct, and control any risks to food safety in the facility as documented in the required self-assessment. The verification provides a basis for initial qualification for supplier approval by your customers who accept the SQF FVA program.
Upon successful completion of the process, you will receive a Verification Declaration Letter (see template below) that you can supply to your customer who accepts it, which your customer can validate by contacting EAGLE Certification Group.
Which retailers accept the remote SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment?
This program assesses readiness against the SQF Fundamentals Basic or Intermediate checklist and standard, which includes expectations regarding GMPs, risk assessment, and preventive controls. Contact your customer’s supplier management representative to inquire if your facility qualifies to use the program for initial supplier approval according to their supplier qualification program Supplier must indicate on the application form which level they wish to be assessed against, basic or intermediate.
Is an on-site audit required?
An onsite audit is not required to achieve the SQF Fundamentals Verification Declaration. The assessment, approximately five hours long, is completed remotely using a virtual meeting platform, such as MS Teams or Zoom, and live stream connection through your mobile device.
How long does the process take?
If you’ve already established your written food safety plan and procedures, completed a thorough internal audit or self-assessment of the SQF Fundamentals code, and corrected any issues, you can schedule your assessment. We recommend calling to schedule several weeks in advance so you can receive your SQF Fundamentals Verification Declaration, taking into account time required to correct any major issues that arise during the remote assessment.
What is considered a Major Non-Conformance?
A major non-conformance would be cited for conditions or practices that pose a direct threat to food safety and has a moderate to high likelihood to cause a food-borne illness or injury from chemical, physical, or microbiological hazard. The assessor may also issue a major non-conformance if there are several minor issues that do not pose a direct threat to food safety, but that add up to indicate a failure to properly identify and implement management practices necessary to maintain food safety.
What kind of evidence do I have to provide to show correction of non-conformance?
Depending on the issue, different kinds of objective evidence are appropriate for demonstrating corrective action. Here are some examples:
A revised procedure may be sufficient to demonstrate you understand the requirements. Other issues may require you to submit photographs of a corrected area of the process or facility. Records demonstrating a process change may be appropriate for a corrected process monitoring.
You might provide email communications or training records as evidence of communication of requirements to employees, accompanied by a record showing you observed the new practices being conducted by the employee.
Work orders, quotes, and contracts for work or materials required for correcting a physical issue may be provided to demonstrate action being taken.
Can I fail the assessment?
Depending on the assessment level chosen, Basic or Intermediate, the assessor will evaluate the site accordingly. Suppose the site applies for Intermediate level but only meets Basic level expectations. In that case, the assessor may issue a Declaration in favor of Basic but will provide information on the areas for improvement required for the site to achieve Intermediate level. If the site can correct the areas within thirty days satisfactorily, the assessor may issue the Declaration in favor of the Intermediate level.
If your self-assessment does not demonstrate the ability to identify and control food safety risks required according to the assessment level requested, or you are not able to effectively correct issues identified, the Verification Declaration will not be issued. However, you would be responsible to pay program fee to the CB associated with the work conducted in the process. A site may apply again at any time as new applicant.
Your customer may request you engage a consultant to improve the operations practices or may require an onsite customer audit if your SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment results indicate a higher risk level that necessitates an in-person visit. This would be scheduled as a separate event, whether a simple surveillance visit to check GMP or even a GFSI-level certification if your customer requires it. These activities would be voluntary and not required by SQF or the CB as part of the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment process.
Hosted by: SQFI in collaboration with EAGLE
To get started, contact EAGLE Certification Group (EAGLE Certification Group Quote Request) to register for the SQF Remote FVA program.