Do You Know What to Expect and How to Prepare for SQF Code Edition 9?

The SQF Institute recently updated Edition 9 with several intended outcomes. Primarily, they wanted to gain compliance with the GFSI 2020 Benchmarking Requirements. They also wanted to take the opportunity to make the codes more readable and user friendly, create more risk focus in audits, while also addressing industry specific risk and issues. Finally, they wanted to group common food sector activities together.

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During her Jan. 27 “SQF Code, Edition 9: What to Expect & How to Prepare” webinar, Tammy Svoboda, Certification Manager, AIB International – Certification Services, talked through changes to the scheme, including changes to both the requirements and changes to the structure of the codes within the scheme.

When Do These Changes Take Effect?

The codes were released in their final form in Oct. 2020, with an implementation date of May 24, 2021. The only audits that will be performed to Edition 8.1 after May 23 are surveillance audits that support recertification audits conducted to Edition 8.1. Notably, there is no longer a desk audit requirement in Edition 9.0.

What Changes Were Made?

SQFI has categorized the changes into two groups:

Structural – pertaining to the readability, streamlining of the requirements, and relations to the industry sectors.

  • Structural changes include breaking out industry sectors into specialized codes, including those for animal feed, aquaculture, dietary supplements, livestock, and pet food
  • They also added and consolidated requirements, resulting in a 34 percent reduction of sections and a 15 percent reduction in elements across all of the various codes

Technical – relating to the compliance to the GFSI Requirements and to Feedback from retailers and other stakeholders.

  • Changes to the technical content of the requirements based on GFSI requirements included changes to HACCP requirements in storage and distribution, internal laboratory requirements, clarifying the need for a food safety culture, and adding the rules for remote activities during audits
  • Additionally, based on stakeholder feedback, requirements were added for ambient air testing, audit scoring changes, and co-manufacturers

For more detail, please watch the full webinar and extensive Q&A with attendees. To learn more, you can also register for the March 23-25 “Transitioning to SQF Code Edition 9” virtual seminar. If you have additional questions or would like more information about SQF Code Edition 9, please email Tammy directly at tsvoboda@aibinternational.com.

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