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The Top Q&A on SQF

1. What is our Quality Management System, and how does SQF tie in?

2. Why are we using SQF as our standard for certification?

Nothing is more important for the food we eat than quality and safety.  We believe SQF is the benchmark and global standard for food quality, and it is recognized by leading retailers and brands internationally.  SQF is all-encompassing and addresses how we handle customers’ products, and manage, control, package and store their inventory.

While it’s focused on food safety, the fundamentals are relatable to everything we package.

By achieving SQF standards, we provide total transparency year-round, and our customers (and their customers) are able to validate that all of our team members maintain good quality habits at all times, not just when an auditor or customer representative pops in for a visit.

For us, achieving SQF is about enforcing a quality-centric culture and maintaining good habits, all of which enables us to operate consistently, reduce errors, avoid risks, speed up delivery and reduce our cost of production.

3. Who is driving adoption of GSFI / SQF?

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and is bringing together world-class retailers, manufacturers and an extended food safety community to oversee food safety standards for businesses and help provide access to safe food for people everywhere.

Retailers of this initiative include Amazon, Costco, IGA, Kroger, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Wegmans.

Brand owners include BumbleBee Seafood, Cargill, Clorox, Colgate Palmolive, Dole, Driscoll’s, General Mills, Godiva, Hormel Foods, JM Smucker’s, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Lamb Weston, Land O’Lakes, Mars, McCormick & Co, Mondelez, Naturipe Farms, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, S.C. Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company, The Kraft-Heinz Company, Tyson Foods and Wonderful Brands.

4. Why should other consumer goods companies care about SQF?

Requiring SQF certification from suppliers helps protect brands by focusing on hazard analysis, risk assessment and proactive prevention strategies. This, in turn, increases consumer confidence and loyalty.

SQF certification meets regulatory food safety requirements and enables buyers to demonstrate due diligence in food safety matters by requiring their suppliers to implement just one program and one standard. Because SQF is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative, it is trusted by buyers around the world.

5. How does SQF compare to other quality standards, registrations and certifications?

6. Why should a non-food brand care about SQF?

We believe the culture and habits achieved by SQF are universally appreciated by all types of brands and products.  All leading brand owners want fewer rejections and customer complaints, appreciate complete transparency and product traceability, and understand that having third-party certifications in place will reduce their legal liability with customers.

7. What does it take to get SQF certified?

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, multi-day physical verification
  • Verified correction of any non-compliant issues
  • Public disclosure
  • Detailed audit, strict guidelines and high level of oversight
8. What are the different categories / levels of SQF, and what category or level are South Atlantic, Prostar and Versatile?

As of SQF Edition 8.0, there are no longer levels within SQF.  As a frame of reference, however, the Category 26 practices that we follow at all of our facilities today would have been consistent with SQF’s former Level 2, as we follow food safety codes in modules 2 and 12.  

9. How does SQF change a co-packer’s cost structure or agility?

Achieving SQF requires a significant investment in people, processes, systems and facilities.

However, by instilling a culture of excellence, the right daily habits for all team members and total transparency as an organization, we believe we co-pack more consistently, avoid errors and rework, and curtail mistakes and costly liability.

We believe that having the right discipline, processes and systems in place on day-to-day basis then allows our management team to better focus on unique customer challenges and helps us deliver quicker with solutions that meet those challenges.

10. How do we measure up?

We are proud to say, we are excellent, thank you. Our commitment to quality and food safety is reflected in our most recent annual audit results: each of our four SQF-eligible facilities received grades well above 95, which is the boundary between “good” SQF scores and “excellent” ones on the SQF scale. Our impressive 97.75 average SQF score, is nearly three-and-a-half points greater than the average score of 94.30 received on 7,500 SQF audits reported worldwide in 2021. The data is according to the SQF Audit Certification Grading Criteria and analysis presented by Sirocco Consulting’s SQF 9 Code Certification Updates. https://www.siroccoconsulting.com/sqf-9-code-certification-updates/