By Allen Sayler, EAS Senior Director for Food and Cosmetic Consulting Services
The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) is coming close to releasing its long-anticipated Edition 8.0. While many things could change during the final review and “sign-off” by the SQFI Technical Advisory Committee and SQFI staff, it is likely that the new SQF Edition 8.0 will have the following formatting and content changes. Some of these changes make the new Edition 8.0 more closely aligned with the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Foods (PCHF) regulation.
SQFI has indicated that Edition 8.0 will be enforced by SQF certification bodies six months after the implementation date (expected April 1, 2017). If SQFI meets its final publication schedule, all SQF-certifications after October 1, 2017 will have to have incorporated all Edition 8.0 changes.
- Edition 8 has divided the food safety requirements in Edition 8 into specific food sectors as follows:
- SQF Food Safety Fundamentals (applies to all food processors)
- SQF Food Safety Code for Primary Production
- SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing
- SQF Food Safety Code for Storage & Distribution
- SQF Food Safety Code for Food Packaging
- The SQF Retail/Wholesale Grocery Code
- The SQF Quality Code (Formerly Level 3)
- All food quality requirements have been incorporated into a separate “SQF Quality Code” and all previous food safety items have been relocated into the specific “SQF Food Safety Codes”.
Specific Operational or Substantive Changes:
- Levels #1, #2 and #3 have been eliminated.
- A food processor may forgo the unannounced certification audit once during each three (3) year cycle and voluntarily choose to move to annual unannounced recertification audits. Locations with annual unannounced recertification audits shall be recognized on the SQFI Certificate as an “SQFI Select Facility.”
- All products produced, stored or processed on site shall be included on the site’s certificate, unless exempted. The site must demonstrate that exemptions that are either site or product specific as part of the scope of certification do not put certificated product at food safety risk.
- The requirements for a food processor’s “Environmental Monitoring” have been expanded, similar to the FDA FSMA “Preventive Controls for Human Foods (PCHF)” requirements:
- SQFI and the certification body must be notified by the food processor in writing within 24 hours of becoming aware of a food safety problem that requires public notification. SQFI can be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The site and the certification body shall agree on the audit scope before the certification audit begins. The agreed upon audit scope cannot be changed once the audit has commenced.
- The certification body must advise the supplier (food processor) of the name of the SQF food safety auditor at the time that the SQF audit is scheduled.
- In instances where a food processing plant has some operational written procedures or records kept or managed by the corporate office, the SQF audit may need to be conducted at the corporate office location as well as at the food processing plant location.
- The definition of “critical nonconformity” has been slightly expanded to include the failure to meet food safety regulations such as state, USDA or FDA regulatory actions.
- The section on “Food Defense” is now titled “Food Defense and Food Fraud”.
- Significant new requirements on allergen management have been added, consistent with the FDA FSMA “PCHF”.
- If a food processor chooses to not implement any Module 11 GMP-like requirements, the reason for not implementing must be submitted in writing to the certification body prior to the audit.
- Water requirements have been strengthened. Water stored on-site must be routinely monitored and water used as an ingredient in processing or for equipment cleaning and sanitizing must be treated, with water microbiological samples be taken annually.
- Lighting in food processing and handling areas and at inspection stations shall be at an average illuminance of 200 lux, or as required by applicable regulations.
- A current list of all chemicals used in the food processing plant is now a requirement.
- All ventilation equipment and devices in product storage and handling areas shall be adequately cleaned to prevent unsanitary conditions.
- There are significant new written and operational requirements related to maintenance of the processing facility and processing equipment.
EAS Consulting Group is a licensed SQFI Training Center and has scheduled SQF Edition 8.0 training sessions. EAS can also provide on-site SQF-based assessments by SQF-registered consultants.