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SQF Certification Requirements & Levels | JP McHale
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SQF Certification Requirements

In the pest management field, a pest remediation company needs to have SQF certification before they can provide their services within a food business. SQF is recognized by retailers and food service providers as a rigorous, credible food safety management system, while the SQF Program is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as the primary production certification in the fields of food manufacturing, distribution, and agent/broker management.
But, what how does one acquire SCF certification? This guide will provide you with a more thorough understanding of the process.

Step 1: Learn About the SQF Code
Before you can be SQF-certified, you first have to learn about the program and the SQF Code. You can do this is a number of different ways, including:

  • Take an online “Implementing SQF Systems” training course
  • Attend an on-site “Implementing SQF Systems” training course through a local licensed SQF Training Center
  • Train yourself by utilizing the free SQF documents
  • Attend an SQF Information Day; a day-long informational seminar in which food suppliers at all levels of the food chain are introduced to the benefits of food safety and quality certification
  • Take the “Implementing SQF Systems” online examination

Step 2: Register Your Company with the SQF Institute’s Assessment Database
The next step to acquiring SQF certification is to register your company with the SQF Institute’s Assessment Database. There is a registration fee, but it varies based on the gross sales of the company applying for registration. Click here to view the Institute’s current registration fee structure.

Step 3: Designate an Employee as Your Company’s Chief SQF Practitioner
One of the SQF requirements for certification is for one individual in the registering company to be selected to serve as its internal expert on SQF. This individual’s role will be that of “SQF Practitioner.” Further information on the requirements for an SQF Practitioner are available in sections and of the SQF Code, Ed. 7.2.

Step 4: Choose Your Level of SQF Certification
There are three SQF certification levels a company can choose from and they include:

  • Level 1: SQF Level 1 is for low risk products and it incorporates fundamental food safety controls
  • Level 2: SQF Level 2 is a certified HACCP food safety plan that is benchmarked by GFSI
  • Level 3: SQF Level 3 is a comprehensive implementation of safety and quality management systems. This level also includes Level 2

Step 5: Obtain Proposals from SQF Licensed Certification Bodies
The next step toward certification is to contact a licensed Certification Body to obtain quotes and details about the SQF certification audit.

Step 6: Conduct a Pre-Assessment
This is an optional step, but one that can benefit the company applying for certification. A pre-assessment of your company can be performed by either an SQF auditor or your company’s SQF Practitioner. The goal of this pre-assessment is to identify any gaps that could stand between your program and your desired level of SQF certification.

Step 7: Schedule an Audit with a Licensed Certification Body
Choose a licensed Certification Body in the country in which you reside from the SQF Institute’s directory and contact them to perform an audit on your company.

Step 8: Undergo Initial Certification Audits by the Certification Body
When your company is audited by the Certification body, the initial audit will focus on document reviews and a facility assessment.

Once all of these steps have been completed, an initial certification decisions will be made. SQF certification is awarded to companies that achieve a “C – complies” audit rating or greater with no outstanding non-conformities. The certification decision shall be made within forty-five (45) calendar days of the last day of the facility audit. Once SQF certification is awarded, the SQF Institute will issue a unique certification number which is specific to that company’s site.