By Laurel Maloy, contributing writer, Food Online
Based in the U.S., SQF certification offers benefits for every member of the supply chain — from harvesters, to processors, all the way down to the consumer.
The first, and some would say foremost benefit of becoming certified by Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) standards, is the assurance that your facility complies with regulatory requirements. For the processor, it demonstrates a commitment and due diligence toward food-safety requirements. This equates to increased consumer confidence and loyalty from those you serve. For the buyer, a supplier’s SQF certification is one of the first steps to ensuring brand protection. When a supplier maintains SQF membership and certification, you know its commitment is as strong as your own. And when the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) comes calling, that SQF certification serves to demonstrate your desire to comply with the regulations.
Secondly, due to its worldwide recognition, achieving SQF certification will increase your marketability, both domestically and globally. A processor or supplier advertising its SQF certification is, through this affiliation, known to have safer, higher-quality products. This global recognition also means that depending and relying upon overseas suppliers is less risky. It’s a two-way street.
Consider this — today’s food-savvy consumer would welcome the inherent knowledge and obligation to food safety demonstrated through your SQF certification. Market your involvement; label your packages and inspire an increased level of consumer confidence through a transparent marketing program.
Financially, SQF certification is a no-brainer. The costs are minimal while the benefits are astounding. A culture of food safety does not occur naturally; there are just too many variables and personalities involved for it to do so. However, an atmosphere of food safety can be fostered, simply by providing training and encouraging teamwork and communication involving all levels of your workforce. The results from the Second Annual Global Food Safety Training Survey highlighted the “sustained positive food-safety behaviors” evidenced through training and coaching. Basically, engaging your workforce will make your food-safety objectives that much more obtainable. That, in and of itself, will result in cost advantages, such as mitigating risk and improving process management. SQF provides a platform for consistent, up-to-date, forward-thinking procedural enhancements which lead to a safer and superior-quality food product.
Finally, you don’t want to get left behind. The SQF program is endorsed by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and is recognized internationally. That is no small undertaking. The initiative is a collaboration of some of the brightest and finest food-safety experts from all sectors of the global food supply chain. In fact, a growing number of food processors and retailers, such as Walmart, Hershey, Kellogg, Kraft, Target, and Safeway actively support SQF certification. You may want to consider adding your name to the SQF list of supporting organizations. You can get started here.