What Is the SQF Quality Code?

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Jennifer Kinion
Contributing Writer

SQF (Safe Quality Food) is the most popular GFSI scheme in North America. Unlike other GFSI schemes, SQFI is the only certifying body which has an optional quality code. Here, we take a look at some SQF quality basics to help you determine whether becoming certified in this code is right for your organization.

What is the Quality Code Based On?

The quality code of SQF emphasizes CODEX HACCP principles and guidelines for the control of food safety and quality hazards. In order to be eligible for the quality code, a facility must be certified to the applicable SQF Food Safety Code. It pertains to all primary, manufacturing, storage and distribution, and food packaging sector categories.

Why Pursue Quality Certification?

Becoming certified in a GFSI benchmarked scheme can help food manufacturers stay competitive, as certification is a supplier requirement for many purchasing companies. SQF’s quality code can take the competitive edge a step further, as it is an added accreditation which demonstrates a company’s commitment to implementing and maintaining HACCP principles.

SQF Code Edition 9 Conversion Guide

What Are the Steps for Becoming Certified?

If you think your company could benefit from being certified in the quality code offered by SQF, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how they recommend pursuing certification:

  • Become certified in SQF Food Safety

  • Learn about their Quality Code by attending a training course

  • Appoint a Quality Practitioner in your facility

  • Pursue SQF Training

  • Document and implement the code

  • Select a certification body

  • Perform a pre-assessment audit of your site

Once these steps have been completed, you can then undergo the initial quality audit to pursue certification.

As with any food safety or quality program, becoming SQF certified requires companies to manage a significant amount of program data and requirements. Quality assurance software can help manufacturers gain control over their quality programs by providing the ability to identify and eliminate variability, act on issues sooner, and reduce waste. With features like real-time analytics and mobile data tools, this technology can improve QA and increase throughput to support compliance efforts and control the cost of quality.