SQF Code Changes

Back in 2020 Global Food Safety Initiative released an update to GFSI Guideline. Certification schemes including SQF updated their audit codes to account for revised and additional requirements. BD Food Safety Consultants helped number of clients by consulting on revising their SQF and BRC food safety systems.

SQF code was updated to version 9.0 that went into effect in May of 2022. One of the major changes was to eliminate the desk audit for sites that attempt their initial audit. This will result in slightly longer site audits as now the auditors must spend more time reading the Programs during site visit.

There were several changes to various sections of the code. The most important ones are listed and explained below:

  1. Food Safety Culture. According to the new version of the code site Management must establish and implement food safety culture along with measurable food safety objectives. Policy statement must now account for management commitment to food safety culture and management must include food safety culture in annual system review. Some of the methods for assessing food safety culture we’ve seen include documented review of resources and tools provided by senior management to assure food safety objectives are met. Other companies implemented employee surveys to measure the culture and employee empowerment to report and resolve food safety issues.
  2. Crisis Management was moved down the code in Food Safety Fundamentals and additional considerations were included in site risk assessment. Those additional crises to assess are viral outbreak, computer system outage and civil disturbance.
  3. Label reconciliation and label review as part of product release. Labels must be reconciled to assure the right number of labels were used per product and that the right label was applied to the product. Label verification must be considered for pre-shipment review before releasing product to the commerce.
  4. More emphasis on adequate ventilation to prevent cross contamination and cross contact. Facilities must have adequate ventilation to prevent condensation and allergen cross contact.
  5. Ambient Air testing in high-risk facilities. High risk facilities must have positive air pressure to avoid cross contamination with pathogens from adjacent areas.
  6. Contingency plan for contaminated water. This is especially important for facilities that use water as an ingredient in product formulation.

Aside from code changes the auditors are now focusing more on assuring that facilities follow relevant legislation in country of manufacture. This means that auditors are verifying that facilities covered under Preventive Control for Human Food have PCQIs available. More often auditors ask if FDQIs are available, and sites established risk-based Food Defense Plans with vulnerability assessment as required by Intentional Adulteration Rule.

Code changes and additional training may be challenging to food businesses, especially small firms. BD Food Safety Consultants LLC provide complex assistance with SQF and BRC audit preparations and we are a one stop shop for all your training needs. Visit us at www.bdfoodsafety.com for more information, to book your class and to make an appointment.