If you are reading this, I am going to take a good guess that you are heavily involved in the food industry. Yet, no matter how long you are in the industry, food safety regulations and guidelines are always confusing.
I decided to blog about SQF steps, because someone needed to break this down into layman terms.
1. So I am assuming you need to become certified per your supplier. First step is going to be to learn the SQF code. Luckily, ASI Food Safety provides that for free on their website here. http://www.asifood.com/sqf-audit-forms.html You just need to figure out which book(s) you will need to learn. Call them and they will let you know for no charge, as well. (800.477.0778 or instant chat on the website ASIFood.com )
You can also attend SQF’s Information days. Let your rep. know that you want the information on when these are coming up. Once you learn the SQF code you need to implement it in your facility.
2. Assuming you have done step one, you need to now register in ReposiTrak. This is the system that you have to be in, to have an audit conducted. This needs to be done right away because your certifying body can’t do anything until you are registered in the system. No scheduling, no preparing, nothing. So register.
3. You have to have an SQF Practitioner, someone that knows the code in their sleep. Pick this person out and don’t forget to pick a backup person, in case they ever get hit by the bus. You have to have a backup.
4. Figure out what level you want to be. Most people start with level 2 because level 1 isn’t recognized and costs the same amount as level 2. Level 3, which is going to be called the “Quality Code” in 2018 I will provide an example for. So a green bean manufacturer can have a level 2 SQF audit and we know that their food is safe. If the manufacturer has a level 3 audit, then customers are assured that all the green beans in the cans are 3 inches long as well. The food is not only safe, but is of a certain quality.
5. Do your research on Certification Bodies and get quotes. These are going to be the people that are with you every step of the way. Check how their customer service is. Is there a technical director there for you at any given time, how easy are they to get to a real person at 9 at night, how quick does the quote get back to you? All these things are important because once you start with the company, it is a pain, if not impossible, to switch companies half way through this process.
6. Figure out if you want a Pre-Assessment. This is a non-documented audit, which is conducted before the real, documented audit. It will tell you where you still need work in your facility and the best part, the auditor that conducts the Pre-Assessment, also will conduct the real audit.
7. Pick a Certification Body that will conduct your audit and then be the company that certifies you to the SQF standard. Sign the quote. A company cannot hold audit dates for you unless they have a signed quote. I can’t stress enough, sign and turn in the quote so you have your dates that you actually want.
8. Get your audit. This will include the Document Review, Pre-Assessment and Facility Audit.
There are a lot of little details that I would be happy to answer for you if you want to write, call or comment on this.
With a little teamwork, we will get though all of these hoops that are needed to be jumped through.
Shannon Nute, MBA
Director of Communications
ASI Food Safety
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