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Contract Packaging: Why We Are An SQF Family Today

Safety and quality are goals for everyone in the contract packaging industry. That’s definitely true for the Wheelhouse family of companies: South Atlantic, Versatile and ProStar.

Compliance with recognized national and international standards is essential to what we do and how we do it. Demonstrating compliance with those standards comes via a rigorous certification process no matter the audit protocol: they require a competently implemented, regularly evaluated, continually improved, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) -based food safety management and quality system.

At one point, we held certification from AIB International at one of our warehouses and the more rigorous Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification at another. Both audit processes are respected. Ultimately, though, we felt having the higher grade and uniform quality standards, no matter the warehouse facility our customers engaged, provided flexibility for them.  Having a shared SQF standard also created efficiencies for us as we implemented best practices across our family of companies.

In 2021, we focused on SQF and now hold SQF certifications at our Reading, Tampa and Winston-Salem warehouses (all with scores of 97 or above for an excellent rating).  Our just-opened South Atlantic warehouse in Indianapolis is implementing all of the SQF standards, so while it’s not yet SQF certified, it is SQF compliant.

What’s involved In SQF Certification

The SQF audit is in two parts: Evaluation of documentation & Evaluation of facility.

The comprehensive evaluation involves a complete examination by the auditor of written programs to see if you are ready for the full audit. SQF standards incorporate the complete supply chain, so suppliers can assure their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled to the highest possible standards each step of the way.

SQF integrates both a quality component and emphasis on food safety. So, it eliminates the need for multiple, redundant audits. It also helps protect our customers’ brand integrity and creates transparency for the consumer.

Prior to conducting a facility walkthrough, SQF auditors review all of our programs and processes. If they identify non- conformance, they will review the documentation to ensure that the appropriate process is in place to address it, training is completed and the non-conformance is corrected. Every instance of non-conformance is published and available to the public for examination.

SQF Certification Provides

  • Written verifications provided over a period of time (not just a spot-check)
  • Review of hundreds of documents
  • Stringent desk audit followed by a multi-day physical verification
  • Verified correction of any non-compliant issues
  • Public disclosure
  • Detailed audit, strict guidelines and high level of oversight