SQF Policy on Extending Certifications

This is our written policy as of today (April 6, 2020). Updates could be made at any time due to the fluidity of the pandemic.  

SQF has in place a means to defer certification due to extenuating circumstances, allowing for a one-time six-month extension, aligning with GFSI. We’ve updated our procedure on approving date change requests, referencing the IAF Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting ABs, CABs and Certified Organizations.  Certifying bodies (CBs) are required to conduct a risk assessment to determine if a certificate extension is needed.

The unannounced audit policy has been waived for all audits scheduled to be conducted on or before December 31, 2020.

The SQF policy also requires the CB to assess the risk for continuing certification during an extraordinary event and request information from sites, as applicable. If you are seeking a delay in your site’s certification audit, then you should contact your CB to understand your options.

There are many questions regarding the use of ‘remote auditing’, and it appears that term is being loosely interpreted. A more accurate term would be “remote activities,” which would include document reviews, interviews, etc. It is SQF’s policy that a risk assessment be conducted by the CB to understand the risk level to extending the certificate. If that risk assessment indicates that remote activities are to be conducted, then the CB should follow the outcomes of the risk assessment. Remote activities are to be used to maintain the site’s certification. If remote activities are conducted, this is not to be considered a replacement for the recertification audit.

Requesting Audit Extensions

Sites should reach out to their CBs to request an extension. We have been informing our CB’s that they are responsible for communicating to the sites when certificate extensions are approved.  Please contact your site’s CB to determine how they are providing confirmation of the certificate extension request. They should also provide you with how they are communicating the approvals, which could include an e-mail, letter or updated certificate.

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