SQF Fundamentals Program

Your goal is to sell product to a food retailer. You’ve heard they require a robust food safety program to protect their retail brand and maintain consumer trust. Now to get their business you must deliver!

  • What does your company need to do to get started?
  • What are the potential food safety risks?
  • Will food safety help you define a path forward, or curb your initiative?

Food safety is a critical component of a successful supplier/buyer trading partnership, and you need an approach that satisfies the retailer’s concerns.

Our solution is the SQF Fundamentals Program:

SQFI has created a solution for small and medium sized suppliers who don’t have a robust food safety management program in place or want to take their existing program to the next level.
SQFI has developed the Fundamentals Program for Food Manufacturing and the Fundamentals Program for Primary Producers, just for business owners like yourself.


Each program has both basic and intermediate levels, and provides a step-by-step approach to improve food safety management.  Watch these videos to learn more about the program:

Download the Codes and Get Started:



Are you interested in the program but not sure where to start?

Check out our library of resources to help you get started!

About the SQFI Fundamentals Program

Program Goals

The goal of the SQF Fundamentals Program is to help protect your brand from the risk of a recall and satisfy your buyer’s requirements. The SQF Fundamentals Program helps to facilitate retailer acceptance of entrepreneur’s like you, providing food safety security and acceptance along the supply chain.

Built as a step-wise approach, The SQF Fundamentals Program is designed to help you integrate robust food safety standards into your existing practices, while creating  a pathway to achieving globally accepted GFSI certification.

The codes within the fundamentals program provides a seamless transition to the SQF Food Safety Program, which is bench-marked to the GFSI standards. The SQF Fundamentals Codes were developed using the GFSI Global Markets Programme toolkit, which meets retailers and buyers requirements for small and medium food producers. This new program will help to create a win-win scenario where all parties can benefit from safer food and increased brand protection.

Program Features


  • The focus for the Fundamental Code is for the small to medium sites
  • There are different Codes for the manufacturing and primary production food sectors. Each of these Codes is broken up into two different approaches- Basic and Intermediate. The Basic Code focuses on the implementation of the Code requirements and less about documentation. Within the Intermediate Code, there is an introduction of documentation however; implementation is still the main focus.
  • The technical requirements in all the Food Safety Fundamental Codes meet the requirements in the GFSI Global Markets program.
  • The Code development uses retailer and public review and feedback


Program Advantages
  • Only CBs licensed to SQF can issue a certificate against the SQF Fundamentals Code
  • Only auditors that are registered with SQF can audit against the SQF Fundamentals Code
  • The requirement for the desk audit for initial certifications was removed for this program. The desk audit can still be conducted however, it is not mandatory and the document review can be part of the initial certification audit.
  • There is no score issued upon completion of the certification or certification audit. However, for those sites that need a score to meet a retailer requirement, there is an option for scoring. The goal was to place the emphasis on the level of non-conformance and the number of deficiencies issued. A site passes and receives a certificate all non-conformances have been closed out and a surveillance audit is required for those sites that received 2 major or 10 minor non-conformances.
  • The time frame for the site to have their re-certification audit was extended to 45 days either side the anniversary date (for the Food Safety Code, that date is 30 days +/- the anniversary date). This provides flexibility for the CB and scheduling audits with available auditors.
  • The unannounced audit requirement was removed.

Fundamentals Program Training

Overview of Training Options:

SQFI will be using a three pronged approach to adeptly address the learning and access needs for a varying audience:

  • Online course (focus is on the Intermediate level)
  • Paper-based, self-directed learning tools
  • Instructor-led training

 The self-directed learning tools can be used alone or in conjunction with online or instructor-led training.

Advantages of the Different Training Options:
  • Online course – easy access via a laptop; no need for travel; self-paced; ability to repeat lessons; knowledge checks for understanding.
  • Instructor-led training – knowledge sharing and problem solving among industry peers; immediate expert advice and guidance; activities used to aid understanding.
  • Self-directed learning – accessible and approachable; self-guided; low cost; guided activities allow for progressive development of a food safety system; modular – learn as much or as little as needed; can be accessed online or printed.

Fundamentals Program Resources

Tip Sheets

Tip Sheet 1 – Getting Started
Tip Sheet 2 – Choosing the right SQF Certification
Tip Sheet 3 – Preventing Food Safety Risks
Tip Sheet 4 – Management Commitment
Tip Sheet 5 – The Site Audit
Tip Sheet 6 – HACCP Overview
Tip Sheet 7 – Approved Supplier Program
Tip Sheet 8 – Specifications
Tip Sheet 9 – Document Control and Records Management
Tip Sheet 10 – Legislation
Tip Sheet 11 – Correction, Corrective Action, and  Preventative Action
Tip Sheet 12 – Conducting a Risk Assessment
Tip Sheet 13 – Employee Training Program
Tip Sheet 14 – Food Defense Plan
Tip Sheet 15 – Product Identification, Traceability, Withdrawal and Recall
Tip Sheet 16 – Verification and Validation
Tip Sheet 17 – Allergen Management
Tip Sheet 18 – Internal Audit Plan
Tip Sheet 19 – Environmental Monitoring
Tip Sheet 20 – Crisis Management
Tip Sheet 21 – Pest Prevention
Tip Sheet 22 – Personal Hygiene Plan
Tip Sheet 23 – Housekeeping
Tip Sheet 24 – Cleaning
Tip Sheet 25 – Equipment Selection and Maintenance