SQF is a Food Safety Management Certification Scheme, created and managed by SQF Institute.

The Food Safety Certification requirements provide a rigorous system to manage food safety risks and provide safe products for use by companies in the food industry.

It is a GFSI recognized food safety certification. This allows your customers to have confidence in your food safety program and know that you have a rigorous food safety system in place.

What does SQF Stand For?

It stands for Safe Quality Food.

What are the Benefits of SQF?

Managing Risk

First and foremost, building an SQF System will provide your company with effective management of food safety hazards by creating an environment capable of producing safe product and a management system to continually manage, monitor, validate and improve the system.

Maintain Current Customers

Statistics show that approximately 1 out of 4 certified companies are asking their suppliers to achieve certification. Chances are that if you have not been asked yet, you will be asked in the near future. Starting on your certification can help you stay competitive and qualified to work with your current customers.

Increase Your Market Reach

Large retailers and multinational manufacturers or processors are also demanding certification of their suppliers. Having SQF Certification means you are qualified to supply these organizations or their suppliers, opening up a large market for your products.

Prepare for New Regulations

Countries across the globe are making changes to food safety regulations, including the United States and its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). SQF prepares your organization to meet many or most of the FSMA requirements.

Download Free SQF Quick Start Guide

What is Edition 8?

Edition 8 is the newest version of SQF.

This version of the code, SQF Edition 8 became effective January 1, 2018. Companies are expected to begin their transition to the new edition.

What is New? An overview summary of the changes

SQF has updated the code with 4 goals in mind.

  • to better fit the needs of industry sectors,
  • to take into account the latest regulatory requirements such as FSMA,
  • to encourage continuous improvement
  • to meet requirements in the new GFSI Benchmarking Requirements in GFSI V. 7.
Learn more about the change to Edition 8.

What is SQF Edition 7.2?

SQF Version 7.2 is no longer the current version of the SQF code and is no longer used for certification audits. SQF 8 is the current version and is used for certification audits.

What are the SQF Levels and Modules?

SQF 8 has 3 Levels of Certification

This has changed since Edition 7.2 (changes noted below)

  • Food Safety Fundamentals: This level does not require HACCP and is not recognized by GFSI.
  • Food Safety Code (Previously known as Level 2)
  • Quality (Previously known as Level 3). This is for those who are already certified to an SQF Food Safety Code.

SQF Modules are different sets of requirements based on industry sectors.

You will choose the Food Safety Code that is specific to your industry and then follow the Module 2 requirements in that code along with the Module that applies to your industry sector. For example, if you process food, you would choose Manufacturing and use Module 11 along with the included Module 2. If you manufacture a packaging product that is used for food production such as cans, film etc., you would select Manufacture of Packaging Materials and use Module 13 along with the included Module 2. If you have any doubts at all about which to choose, we recommend confirming with your certification body that you have selected the correct Code for your business.

The SQF Code for all of the segments can be downloaded for free from SQFI.

How Do We Get SQF Certified?

Basic Steps to SQF Certification

  1. Download the Code and Guidance documents free at www.SQFI.com
  2. Learn what is required for the food safety management system
  3. Select the applicable modules for your industry segment and activities
  4. Register in the SQFI database (Reliance database at www.SQFI.com)
  5. Designate your SQF Practitioner
  6. Design, document and implement the required processes and food safety fundamentals
  7. Train your internal audit team
  8. Run your system, collect records, perform internal audits, management review and HACCP team meetings.
  9. Make corrections and improvements to your system.
  10. Select a certification body
  11. Schedule and complete your audits

How Long Does it Take to Get SQF Certified?

Getting ready for registration involves building your Food Safety Management System, documenting that system, and implementing it throughout your organization. A 2012 survey of certified companies showed an average of 8-12 months to prepare for certification. Based on information from our visitors and customers, the average time for implementation is approximately one year, however the time frame will vary depending on your organization's specific circumstances. Your timeframe maybe shorter or longer than average.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have a Food Safety Management System or parts of a system in place?
  • How much time can personnel devote to working on the Food Safety Management System development each week?
  • What tools or assistance will you use?
  • How many products, product groups or process lines do you have?
  • How complex are your processes?
  • Read more about how long it will take.