“Why Does Having an SQF Certification Matter?”

The Safe Quality Food, or SQF, certification covers all aspects of the food supply chain. From the growth of produce to leaving distribution centers, the GFSI uses SQF certifications to ensure product quality and high standards. Receiving this achievement signifies to buyers that a company’s products have been held to the appropriate requirements. Those requirements must be met in order to allow the selling and distribution certain types of products.

What Areas Do SQF Certifications Cover?

SQFs focus on the agricultural food system. They look at the processing of produce, packaging, retail use, and storage and distribution of members in the food supply chain. Under an SQF certification, small and mid-level businesses can utilize the SQF Food Safety Fundamentals division to increase the quality of their food safety management system. The SQF Quality Program is also available as an added accolade for food quality plans that have received successful results.

The SQF Certification Process

Like the other certification programs, the GFSI has trained individuals and companies like QIMA who have been approved to conduct this certification audit. A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system is also used during these audits. An article by SafeFoodAlliance.com reports that SQF certifications can take “anywhere from 6 months to 2 years or more” to receive.

Some of the required areas of a SQF audit include:

–          Management

–          Food Safety Plans

–          Records of Product Recalls and Rejections

–          Monitoring of Allergen Products (including pet food if applicable)

–          Employee Training

The list of mandatory sections an auditor must go through for this certification is much longer than other GFSI certifications. Due to the wide range of production elements an SQF addresses, there are only a small number of sections that aren’t required to pass an audit.

Benefits of Obtaining an SQF Certification

GFSI, or Global Food Safety Initiative, certifications are known for their high standards and the SQF is no different. Receiving one indicates to other members of the supply chain, as well as consumers who use the products, that a company maintains those standards. Comfort and trust in auditors and the food supply chain as a whole keeps the economic cycle running.

Other benefits of this certification are:

–          Eases ‘audit exhaustion’

–          Gets companies ahead of their competition

–          Encourages continuous maintaining of high standards

–          Helps reduce risk of recalls, rejections, and dissatisfaction with customers

It Concerns Companies and Consumers

When it comes to food safety, consumers should care about the systems that members of the food supply chain use for their products. The results of any food quality standards will reach homes of consumers. If employed poorly, mishandled food products could lead to sickness or even fatalities. No rotten food or harmful, chemical-laced products, for example, should be eaten by customers and GFSI certifications help prevent that. Additionally, as members of the food supply chain, brands who settle into the habit of maintaining the high standards set and enforced by the GFSI will see a positive difference in their business.